Arkansas Baptists stand firmly in the belief that God's love and plan for redemption extends to every person, while also affirming the Bible's definition regarding marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Read the full press release from our Executive Director J.D. "Sonny" Tucker, Ph. D
|New Members Matter - Structuring a New Member's Class||| Print ||
In part three of this series looking at New Member’s classes, we now need to look at the issue of structure and timeline. Churches and church families carry extremely busy calendars and sometimes it is difficult to add one more thing to the busyness. So how can a church begin to disciple new members and make sure their first steps are straight and true without overloading them or neglecting them? The church must see discipling new members as a priority or the new members won’t see it as a priority. Oftentimes the way a new believer/member starts has a large impact on how they finish.
Every church needs to understand that discipleship is not automatic and that discipling new members/believers is the church’s responsibility. This is an ongoing process that involves more than just curriculum. There needs to be intentionality in everything a church does and discipling their new members is no exception. So how can a church structure a New Member's class to begin the discipleship process with new members and be effective and intentional about it without overloading an already busy schedule?
The structure of the New Members’ class depends on the information you want to convey. Listed below are four basic approaches to structuring and scheduling a New Member’s class. There needs to be time for relationship building between the new members and the staff/key leaders in all four approaches. The identity of the church, expectations of the new members, and opportunities for ministry are important issues to cover as well. A plan for spiritual growth beyond the New Member’s class needs to be explained to each new member. New believers need instruction in the first steps of the discipleship journey and more seasoned Christians need to know the opportunities they have to strengthen their relationship with Christ.
Four Basic Models
1. Orientation luncheon/banquet - The orientation/luncheon model is a quick and easy introduction to the church and its ministries.
2. Two Hour Sunday Morning Class - This approach incorporates the New Member's class on Sunday morning during Sunday School and Worship.
3. Weekend Class - Doing complete new member training in a weekend retreat type format.
4. Multi-Week Class - The most comprehensive approach conducted over a four to eight week time-span either through Sunday School or as a small group study.
Regardless of which approach your church adopts, let experienced believers come alongside these new members to be encouragers to them. Those encouragers then become one more significant relationship the new members have. There is no replacement for life on life discipleship especially in the beginning with new believers and members. Jesus called us to make disciples and the better the start, the stronger the finish.
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