Focal Passage: Romans 12:3-15
While our daughter Melanie was in
labor, Jack and I made ourselves “small” in her hospital room. We wanted to be
present to welcome this newborn with no past, only a future, into our family.
As Nathanael inhaled his first breath, the doctor and nurse
hovered to assist him in getting a healthy start in life.
The following Sunday, we returned to the church Jack served
as interim pastor. At the invitation, a woman named Janie responded.
She had just breathed spiritually for the first time. She,
too, was a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).
The members lined up and welcomed her into the church, but
because Janie was an adult, the church failed to recognize her as the spiritual
infant she was.
At first Janie was regular in worship, but soon her
attendance became sporadic.
In time, she stopped coming. Knowing how critical the months
are following an adult’s spiritual birth, we kept in touch, but in time,
without being assimilated, she dropped out of church.
Months later, a church leader asked me whether I remembered
a young woman who once sat in the middle of the worship center during church.
Snapping his fingers, he said, “Oh, you know, What’s-Her-Name?”
I compared Janie’s spiritual birth to Nathanael’s physical
birth. How impossible it would have been for his excited siblings ever to
address him as “What’s-His-Name.” But by failing to assimilate Janie, the
church silently communicated, “From now on, you’re on your own.”
Hopefully your church maintains a heightened alert to the
needs of new Christians as they find their place of service. Both church and
new members bear responsibility.
New members should introduce themselves, understanding that
members have forgotten how it feels to be new.
They attend every session of the new members’ class and
refer to the church as we, not they. They note activities listed in the church
bulletin that they can participate in and study the church’s pictorial
directory to put names with faces. They attend fellowships and meals, mingling
with different people each time.
The church’s responsibility includes introducing themselves
until new members can call their names.
They invite new members to socials, offer rides or
directions, and include new members in their conversations. The church draws
new members into tasks in the church so they can find their paths to service
through their talents and spiritual gifts (Romans 12:4-5).
Spiritual gifts are listed in Ephesians 4:11, 1 Corinthians
12:8-11, and Romans 12:6-8.
Reviewing these lists might reveal gifts you need to
rediscover and put to use for God’s glory.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Coming soon readers will see the Oct. 2
lesson for Explore the Bible lesson, a curriculum published by LifeWay. The
Sept. 25 Formations lesson will be the last lesson from Formations, a
curriculum printed by Smyth & Helwys Publishing. LifeWay’s Bible Studies
for Life will continue to be printed.)