Four Major Crises New Believers Face
Four Major Crises New Believers Face
In a previous article, I underscored the importance of preventing dropouts by pointing to some practical steps to avert dropouts. However, in this article, I elaborate more on the topic by referencing some four (4) points explained by Evangelist Mark Finley, an experienced soul winner, in his book, Fulfilling God’s End-Time Mission. Says Mark, “After carefully evaluating the experience of new converts to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we have discovered that there are often four major crises in the lives of new believers. Just as the early stages of a baby’s life are critical, so are the first two years of a convert’s life. These years set a pattern of spiritual growth and development for the rest of his or her life.”
The Crisis of Discouragement
It is observed that, “this crisis occurs when individuals fail to live up to the high standards that they have espoused immediately previous to their baptism.” The baptism signals “a public commitment to accept certain biblical truths and live by certain biblical standards.” But following baptism, they are challenged, discovering “tendencies from their old life still present.” Accordingly, impatience, unkindness and a lack of Sabbath commitment may result thus leading to discouragement. The natural reaction is to isolate themselves from the church, for the church stands for commitment to standards and a lifestyle they feel incapable of maintaining. Therefore, guilt takes over resulting in absenteeism at church, and loss of excitement in the Christian life. To prevent this, it is important keep in touch with new believers by regular phone calls, reassuring words of encouragement, prayers and pastoral visits.
The Crisis of Integration
Finley notes, “This crisis takes place when a new convert fails to replace the old friends in their life with new ones.” It is not always easy to make new friends and assimilate into a new church, Sabbath school and /or young people’s meeting without the support of friends and others. Symptoms of this crisis may be seen with late arrivals at church, leaving immediately after the closing hymn and rarely attending the social activities of the church.
To address this, Mark suggests that “active attempts” need to be made to develop “new friendship within a church,” “to invite them to church, social functions,” and “to Sabbath dinner.” Without deliberate efforts to reach and maintain contact with new believers within the first six months after baptism, it is likely that they may leave the church because of the crises of discouragement and integration, argues Mark.
The Crisis of Lifestyle
“This crisis,” explains Mark, “generally takes place from a year to a year and a half after baptism. It occurs when an individual fails to integrate the value system of Scripture and the Seventh-day Adventist Church into their lifestyle.” Symptoms of this crisis may include absence from Sabbath school, prayer meeting; and persons tend to speak in generalities regarding the church, and there is little involvement. To counteract, there is the need to encourage a daily devotional life, provide adequate Adventist literature and encourage small group Bible studies.
The Crisis of Leadership
In this crisis, Mark notes that it “occurs after an individual has demonstrated faithfulness to Christ and His church.” Unfortunately, in this crisis, he points out that, if the church is small, it is likely that new believers would be chosen to serve on the nominating committee and, even placed into leadership roles. Thereby, they are exposed to the inner workings of the church, and soon discover that the members are not really saints when there is “frank evaluation of church members elected to office.” This can be shocking and perplexing for a new believer.
The obvious counteraction is not to place new believers in offices and in situations where they will likely to be affected negatively without being assimilated first. Additionally, it is good to counsel new members concerning the weakness and inadequacy of human leadership as well as the frailty of human beings in general.