NURTURE Up Close
Nurturing new church members is just as vital as nurturing newborn babies. Leave a church member to fend for themselves and they’ll die spiritually just as quickly as a newborn baby does without care.
The early church, “continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and prayer” (Acts 2:42). This describes an environment in which the apostles continually invested time and energy in the church and its new members. Nurtured converts become disciples and develop into mature leaders thus increasing the number of core members in the church. The apostles understood that their converts were to play a critical role in the organization and replication of the church. They formed close relationships with the believers and trained disciple-making disciples. By the power of the Holy Spirit, “all who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44).
This tight-knit fellowship of believers led to them forming a centralized organizational structure. “The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32). Everyone realized that God owns all things and dedicated their possessions, along with themselves, to the church for His glory. No one lacked anything as the people were nurtured, according to their needs, from the common store.
The same fellowship, organizational style, and giving spirit are seen in Paul’s church ministry also. When the saints in Jerusalem were facing poverty, Paul encouraged the other churches to willingly give financial assistance (1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15; Galatians 2:10; Romans 15:25-31). Paul understood the importance of fellowship and brotherhood in a centralized church structure. Peter, James, and John had extended “the right hand of fellowship” (Galatians 2:9) to Paul and Barnabas.
The principle of nurture is all about the process of making disciples. Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). Good teachers seek to reproduce themselves, making new teachers. All new converts are disciples who will make more disciples. The number of disciples should multiply continually (Acts 6:1), providing a steady stream of trained disciples for leadership roles. This is the power of nurture—the most important RENEW principle.
Discipleship means setting aside your own comfort for someone else’s good, engaging with their needs and hurts, and humbly demonstrating God’s love. Nurturing another person’s growing faith is often painful, slow, and arduous. It means demonstrating, in word and action, how to live this life of faith.
Discipleship helps church members and new converts become Spirit-filled individuals who know how to pray and study the Bible, who are not dependent upon someone else for their spiritual growth. Through effective discipleship, they become capable of discipling others to Jesus.
Because discipling is an ongoing process, the RENEW Nurture training helps us:
- Understand the true Biblical meaning of a disciple.
- Discover how to create an environment that nurtures disciples and disciple-makers.
- Explore the Biblical keys for effective discipleship.
- Learn how to overcome the challenges of nurturing disciples in today’s culture.