Having clearly dealt with what follow-up is, we now face the question, Why is personal follow-up important? That the Bible commands us to follow up new believers has already been shown. But since the work of follow-up takes three forms, I would like to propose four reasons why we should not be content to simply abdicate our personal responsibility in follow-up to the group or to the initiative of the new believer but should rather consider personal follow-up a priority.
- The Vulnerability of a New Christian. A new Christian is more easily deceived by Satan than a more mature Christian. In fact, a believer is more vulnerable in the fight against Satan’s temptations at the beginning of his walk of faith than at any other time of his life. It is common for a new Christian to experience doubt regarding the validity of his decision for Christ. He needs the protection that a more mature believer can help to give him. Victory against Satan’s deceptions is to be found only in the truths of God’s Word. Christ taught us this by using the Bible to answer Satan’s temptations in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1; Luke 4:1-13). Knowing little of the Word of God makes a new Christian quite defenseless. This vulnerability is a strong argument for involvement in personal follow-up.
- The New Christian’s Potential for Change. A Second important reason for personal follow-up involves the new Christian’s rate of growth. A new Christian is at a pivotal point in his For the first time, he has the potential for real change in his lifestyle. The direction and guidance offered through personal follow-up greatly increase both the chance and speed of this transformation. Whether one is a young person or an adult, personal follow-up greatly speeds one’s growth in Christ. A mature Christian working in such a close relationship with a new Christian is able to detect the areas in his life that need the most urgent change. He is also able to assist in the application of pertinent biblical truth. Without this personal guidance, many new Christians are not able to take full advantage of this crucial period of their lives and do not grow in Christ as rapidly as they could.
- Disciples Are Produced Most Effectively Through Personal Follow-up. A third important reason for doing personal follow-up involves the development of disciples. Personal follow-up greatly increases the speed and probability of discipleship development in a new believer’s life. An important and basic goal of your ministry in this area is the development of disciples. I t is important that the term disciple be clearly defined in our minds. My experience has shown that there are almost as many definitions of this term as there are For the purpose of this book, a disciple is defined as follows:
A disciple is a Christian who is growing in conformity to Christ, is achieving fruit in evangelism, and is working in follow-up to conserve his fruit.
Discipleship training should be a major goal in a total program of personal follow-up. When I use the term personal follow-up, I am using it in both a limited and an expanded sense. In the limited sense, I am referring to the initial work of grounding a new believer in the faith. In the expanded sense, I am using the phrase to refer to the entire relationship a mature Christian has with a new Christian over a period of time to help the new Christian achieve maturity. To prevent misunderstanding, I define discipleship training as follows:
Discipleship training is the spiritual work of developing spiritual maturity and spiritual reproductiveness in the life of a Christian.
Effective personal follow-up of a new Christian will go far toward conserving more of the fruit of evangelism but will not in itself speed the fulfillment of the Great commission. Only an increasing labor force can accomplish this task. The development of spiritual reproductiveness in the new believer’s life is the answer to this need. Stated differently, the new Christian must be taught not only to grow in Christ but also to witness and follow up others who respond to Christ. This alone will achieve a truly multiplying effectiveness in fulfilling the Great Commission. This fact brings us to the fourth reason for making the work of personal follow-up a priority in our life.
- Personal Follow-up Is the Most Effective Way of Achieving Spiritual Multiplication. The degree to which we can encourage a new Christian to be fruit producing has important implications for the fulfillment of the great commission. The previous section showed the truth of this statement. Our effectiveness in this work will determine whether we will be spiritual “adders” or “multipliers.” Will we only lead people to Christ, or will we also be responsible for their leading others to Christ (these who in turn will lead others to Christ)? Not only spiritual productiveness, but also spiritual reproductiveness should be the focus of our personal follow-up ministry. To be a multiplier should be the goal of every Christian. A multiplier may be defined as follows:
A multiplier is a disciple who is training his spiritual children to reproduce themselves.
In other words, a multiplier is a disciple who is able to produce other disciples. Only when this process occurs will we see true spiritual multiplication. I define multiplication as follows:
Multiplication is third-generation discipleship training.
To further explain, third-generation discipleship training is seeing someone we have personally discipled discipling another to disciple others. It is extremely important to understand the concept of spiritual multiplication, for it is the goal of this book to produce spiritually multiplying Christians.
– From “Dynamics of Personal Follow-up,” Gary Kuhne. Used by permission of the author.