We’ve all done it. Programmatically it makes perfect sense. We take something as complex as the Gospel and simplify it in an attempt to discover the “formula”—the silver bullet—for effective ministry. Because if we can do that, we can easily follow and replicate the pattern to successfully create Christ followers anywhere. We don’t have bad intentions—in fact, we have good ones.
But there is great danger in this reductionist approach. We start to view a decision made and a prayer prayed as the end game rather than the starting point for a lifetime of growing in Christ. We inventory the raised hands during altar call, and count the baptisms on a Sunday morning as proof of ministry fruitfulness.
But anytime you reduce something, it becomes thinner.
There is no greater danger to the eternal destinies of young people than for their entire faith foundation to rest on a cursory, thin introduction to the Gospel. One that fails to plumb the deep well of understanding the Scriptures provide. When initial belief becomes transactional, instead of being based on a relationship with the inscrutable person of Jesus Christ, we risk inviting people to become nothing more than shallow, nominal Christians, whose faith has no bearing on life’s real problems and challenges.
Young people need to know the Who, what, when, where, why and how of the God who saves them, and wrestle with what a relationship with such a Being looks like.
So how do we take a new believer from repeating the sinner’s prayer to embracing a deeply rooted, mature faith? The Bible instructs that, “if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” I Peter 3:15
The relativism, which is not willing to speak about truth but only about ‘what is true for me’ is an evasion of the serious business of living. It is the mark of a tragic loss of nerve in our contemporary culture. It is a preliminary symptom of death. —Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
Any time or place that a new believer’s faith is challenged—even by their own doubts—they need be prepared with a strong apologetic.
A steady diet of milk will not nourish spiritual maturity. It will only produce a weak anemic faith (1 Cor. 3:2). Faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Discipleship is a critical component to everything our team at OneHope develops. Every product, program and outreach is intentionally designed to be done through the local church, where a new believer can be plugged in and begin to grow in their faith.
As individuals learn who God is and what He’s said and done for us, they understand what they need to do to become more like Christ. And with a thick Gospel forming a firm foundation, the believer will be able to withstand any attacks, storms, questions or doubts that are sure to come as they live out their divine destiny.