We all know the story: the church had 100 members. But when just one got lost, the loving Caregiver risked His life to retrieve it. Today’s church would be very satisfied with a 1 percent rate loss, but He was not! The reality is that when we compare the number of members lost to members gained in a given period, our church reports a greater than 34 percent loss!
We say we care, but do we care enough to act? What can we do to stem our painful loss? Here are a few simple ideas for connecting with new believers.
Identify one or two new believers for whom you would like to care. Introduce yourself, talk with them, get to know them, and build a positive relationship.
Pray for them by name in your personal devotions. When we pray for someone, we form a spiritual connection with them.
As you get close to each other, you will be able to identify their felt needs. Choose one of their needs and try to satisfy it.
Invite them to become your new prayer partner. Tell them that you have needs for which you would like them to pray, and that you will be happy to pray for their needs as well. Establish a weekly time when you can call and pray with each other.
If sickness visits the new believer, or a family member, make sure you visit also. Visiting shows we care.
Offer to visit new believers on Friday evenings and welcome the Sabbath together.
If there is a need, offer to provide transportation to church, as well as on weekdays for running errands.
Take a special interest in the children of new believers and make friends with them. When we win the heart of a child, we often capture the hearts of the parents.
Invite new converts to your home for Sabbath lunch. Don’t strive for perfection; it’s the fellowship that counts.
Remember the special times of their lives—birthdays, anniversaries, or Christmas—and give a gift. Books such as The Desire of Ages make great nurturing gifts.
Invite families for social activities. These could be a game, a party in a park, a social event, or watching a film together.
Teach your new friend a skill you have and they like, such as learning another language.
Create a small-group meeting of your families that meets regularly to share sorrows and joys, talk together, pray together, and fellowship together. This can be priceless!
Live an authentic life. If your new friends think you are genuine, they will model your behavior forever!
Gordon and Waveney Martinborough, now retired, live in Orlando, Florida, and are co-directors of Happy Family Bible Seminars International, a supporting ministry of the Adventist Church.