The First Thing You Should Know As A New Christian or as
Someone Who Is About To Minister To Others
You have been called to follow Jesus as a disciple. You have been called to a ministry.
Now what? I used to wonder what kind of a Christian I would be if I wasn’t a pastor until finally
the Lord said, “That’s not a valid question.” What kind of a person we are is wrapped up in our
walk as a disciple and as someone with a life purpose for some type of ministry. So now what do
The first step for anyone who has decided to follow Christ is to get a good foundation in
being a disciple. Stop asking what your ministry is for a while and focus on the purpose of the
moment. Don’t worry about when Jesus is coming back. (A lot of people like to jump right into
prophecy.) Just know that it is soon. Your first job is to become what every Christian is intended
to become - a disciple, or follower and learner of Jesus Christ. That’s why we have the series in this
web site on discipleship. Until you have that established, it’s best not to run to other “hobby horses”
that may excite you. Before you can learn your specific purpose, you need to discover God’s purpose
for everyone. You’ll find that as you do this your specific ministry and purpose will start to emerge.
The lessons on discipleship that we have put together came from a recent intention to
simply study the Gospels to see what Jesus himself said about eternal life. In these lessons we
see that Jesus didn’t always answer the questions or take the directions that we have thought He
should. But they are given in the basic order that I found them in the Bible. For example, one of
the first things that the Gospel message impresses upon people is the judgement. It is the natural
response to this that will establish some of the next steps in discipleship.
The next thing that I would encourage you to focus on once your basic discipleship has
been accomplished is to look at the teaching in the school of practical ministry. Some of it may
be more than you are ready for, so absorb it as you can. I have found that most problems and
failures in ministry life come because people do not know or do not want to follow the principles
found in these chapters.
One of the most important things to realize about becoming the person and the minister in
life that God wants you to be is that no one does it on their own. It requires the accountability,
instruction, and encouragement of Church life. It is about taking the tools of change that are
happening in our lives and letting them blossom through our relationships in the local body. If
someone says to you that they are being discipled and led by God alone - run! If someone says
that they received their ministry from the Holy Spirit and not from men - run! It usually means
that though they have a ministry from God, as does everyone, they don’t want anyone holding
them accountable from doing what they want to do. There’s a root problem there somewhere.
“I thought God gave us ministry gifts?” Yes He did, and you will know sooner or later
where you fit into this. And so will others. If others, especially the God ordained elders of the
Church do not recognize it, then it’s out of order. Or perhaps the church you’re attending is not
the place for you. But don’t be hasty here!! As you will see in the teaching on practical ministry
and church government, God uses people in ministry to disciple, establish, ordain and appoint
others to the ministry. Ministry births ministry by the Holy Spirit through the Church that God
has given us. Self appointed ministries are dangerous at the very least.
“Well, I want to start a Bible study.” That’s great! It shows that you are interested in
sharing the Word of God as a witness for the Lord. There is nothing like sharing what God has
done for you with others. That’s why you exist in this world.
Here’s a word about your Bible study. Make sure it’s a study of the Bible and not some
topical study that has not been looked at by your local church elders. They are responsible
according to Eph. 4 for the growth, maturity, and unity of the body in teaching and doctrine until
everyone comes to the unity of the faith in the fulness of Christ. Let them do their job. If you’re
in a home group whose topic is merely the Bible, then you’re pretty much on safe ground.
However, if it’s a topic by an author that has not been reviewed by your local church then the
group should not exist as a resource for people in any given church.
You see, when people go to any given church the ministry there is expected to safeguard
the members from error and outright false doctrine. That’s not primarily the member’s job, but
the elder’s job. Though they can’t prevent the spread of false teaching, the church doesn’t need to
become a source for it either. I understand that each person has the right and responsibility to
discern the truth, but oftentimes it’s very subtle. If people come into a local body and are invited
to a group not sanctioned by the elders then anything can and sooner or later will happen. It’s not
proper for any person in a church to use that church’s membership as a pool from which to draw
people into their own personal “revelations.”
We live in a free country in many respects, and a new believer is going to be subjected to
a lot of different things. Many of those influences are going to be powerful and they are going to
be biblical. However, you don’t teach a child to drive a car before you teach him to read and
write. Too often young Christians get caught up in teaching on something like the end times, or
healing, or deliverance, before they become established in the discipleship that God has for all of
us. Usually this leads to far more heartache than is necessary. Sometimes people wind up
getting caught in error that they were never capable of discerning because they hadn’t learned
how to “read and write” before trying to drive a race car. They couldn’t read the warning signs.
Honestly, this article is a pastor’s plea to let the Church help you grow in Christ the way
the scriptures intended it to happen. I don’t want to see you misled, and I don’t want to see
anyone mislead you. Often well intentioned people will bring you down a path that they aren’t
equipped to bring you down. Sometimes they have the “preacher’s itch” and have a personal
need to teach other people. Maybe you are or have been one of those people yourself. It’s ok.
Don’t worry about it. Just learn from it and know that you are loved.