by Rhonda VanCleave
From the sound of the first heartbeat, to the gender reveal day, to hospital “go time,” new parents celebrate every step of the anticipation of a new life joining theirs. After the celebration of birth, do they drop the baby off in the crib and go about their lives? ABSOLUTELY NOT! That would be appalling.
Sadly, a similar thing happens in some churches with a birth that is equally important, the New Birth of a Christian. Much effort has been put into VBS (or any other outreach event). People have worked tirelessly to make preparations, to plan for the best experience ever, and when “go time” came, they gave it everything they had. And, joy of all joys, when kids and adults trusted Jesus as their Savior, there was much celebration! But, how many times are their names assigned to a small group class role and people go on about their church lives? We drop baby Christians in their “crib” and expect them to grow.
What plans does your church have in place that will help new Christians take their first unsteady steps toward Christian growth? The VBS Administrative Guide (the ultimate toolbox of resources for VBS planners) contains practical helps to follow up with those who have become Christians during VBS.
First steps involve communication. Talk with parents whose children have made a profession of faith during VBS. A sample letter is provided on the CD-ROM included with the VBS Administrative Guide (“Sample_Followup_Letters.rtf”). The letter explains that someone from your church will be contacting parents. A personal conversation with the parent is very important.
Sometimes the child may be actively involved in another church. In that case, a sample letter is also provided to help communicate the information with that pastor so their church can come alongside the child for discipleship.
Next, the beginning of discipleship is helping kids understand what it means, “Now that I’m a Christian.” Page 38 of the VBS Administrative Guide describes some of the resources available for this important step, starting with the I’m a Christian Now! Leader Kit. A basic follow-up and discipleship plan is also outlined on page 39 of the Administrative Guide. Churches can choose or develop the plan that works best for them.
The bottom line is this, plan for those new baby Christians with the same effort new parents plan for their anticipated arrivals. Expect great things from God and be prepared to welcome those new responsibilities with joy!