“I was a stranger…..and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35 (Amp)
This Easter, across all our Northstar locations, we celebrated Jesus, His death, resurrection, and the hope that He has given us all who believe in Him. On Good Friday the world said, “No” to Christ. On Easter morning God said, “Yes” to the world. During the Easter weekend, a total of 253 people said “yes” to accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. Now the work really begins. Because as you already know, not all of those who come during Easter return the following week. And not everyone who gets saved during Easter services grows spiritually either.
So how do we make sure those who attend our Easter services return, become active in our churches and grow as a Christian? Helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ is as important as winning them in the first place.
One way is to look at what the early church did after winning large groups of people to Jesus. For example we can look at Acts 14:21-22: “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”
“And Judas and Silas, who were themselves prophets, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with many words. And after they had spent some time, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” (Acts 15:32-35).
“And (Paul) went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” (Acts 15:41). “After spending some time there, he departed and went from one place to the next through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.” (Acts 18:23).
Two important phrases come up over and over again when looking at how the early Church in Acts responded after reaching people for Jesus. They are strengthen and encourage. After reaching people for Christ—as we did on Easter—the early church focused on assimilating those they had reached. The definition of assimilate is to include into a larger whole; to involve; to make one. Ephesians 2:19 (TLB) says, “Now you are no longer strangers to God and foreigners to heaven, but you are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.”
It is easy to assume that new Christians will automatically connect to a church. It is a bad assumption. The process of making them a part of God’s community rests with the church, not the new Christian. It begins when they accept Christ and it is ongoing from that day forward.
If you invited someone to church, my hope is that you will follow-up with them. Let them know what the church is doing the following weeks, whether it’s a particular sermon series or starting point classes. I would ask that you follow-up, whether the individual just wanted to be in church on Easter, or made a lifetime commitment to Christ. Whether or not visitors return to Northstar has a lot to do with the contact you make with them.
Then try to get them involved in a Northstar Group. New Christians need to be connected to a small group of people. We can’t know everyone in the church, but we need to know someone. If someone comes to your church and they know six to 10 people, the chances are better that they will stay and grow. People come to church for many different reasons. They stay because of relationships within their own stage of life.
Last, see if you can interest them in serving. Nothing’s worse than feeling lost and left out at church. Make a concerted effort to match people’s skills, gifts, and interests to ministries within the church. Try to connect new people to some of our entry-level ministries.
Don’t allow the momentum of the Easter season to fizzle once the baskets are emptied and the chocolate has been eaten. Even a small effort at connecting with newcomers will go a long way in establishing lasting relationships and helping others grow spiritually, which will result in a thriving church community.
- What causes people to assimilate into the church? What is your role?
- What reasons can you come up with for people not returning to church after the first visit? What can we do corporately and individually to improve in those areas?
- Pray and ask God to connect you with those who made a decision for Christ to connect to a church.
- Pray for our church for the remainder of the year that God will use us to further His kingdom.