I want to tackle what I think is a very serious issue in the church, and it’s this idea of baby Christians. I think we have done a great disservice to new Christians by labeling them this way. We stop their progress in the faith by holding them back and letting them know that they first need to grow in their knowledge of Christ and show progress before sending them out into the world.
However, this should not be the case. While this is something I know I have said over the years, I think we’re ending up having the opposite effect here. Instead of people who take time to prepare themselves for ministry, we stifle their natural growth pattern and they never get to a point where they feel like they are truly ready to serve.
Will they need guidance and someone to come alongside them during this time? Absolutely. But who doesn’t need that? This passage tells us that we all need help because gifts of given to us in different measures. The five gifts he speaks about here are Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher. Now why aren’t we given all five gifts? Because I believe God wants us to first rely on Him, and second, to rely on each other. We must work together within the context of a church so that God’s ministry is accomplished.
But when it comes to new believers, I think we need a new approach. Instead of making them wait, we empower them in the first moments of their new life. When they come out of the water as a new creation, we give them a charge like this:
“You have just been baptized into a life with Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. There have been people who have loved you, cared for you and invested their time, energy, and talents into you for this very moment. And now you are empowered with the same Spirit that stirred them on to take this action so you could be here today. So now, filled with this same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, you are now commissioned to go and make disciples of Jesus Christ. So go and find that person who so desperately needs Him today.”
What would happen if everyone started out their new life with that calling? What would happen if ministry started day one instead of some unknown date in the future? It would fuel these new believers, when they are the most passionate in their faith, to go and make disciples who make disciples. And I believe, it will also encourage those who have been in the faith for a long time to go and do the same!