How Should We Disciple the Un-Churched Who Come to Faith?
Updated: Mar 25
When I came to faith a few weeks before my seventeenth birthday, I did so from a largely non-Christian, working-class background. I was working, as an apprentice Mechanical Engineer at Blackhall Colliery in County Durham, down the coalmine maintaining machinery, mostly on or near the coalface. And it wasn’t easy for me to work out and reconcile my new living faith, which focused on Christ and the Easter experience of the cross and resurrection, with the world that I inhabited. How could I live out my faith in the context of my family? A family who loved me and lived good respectable lives, but whose values were often at odds with my new found faith? How was I to live and bear witness to Christ in my place of work, which was fairly hostile to my experience of Christ?
To be honest, the small Baptist church that played such an important part in my coming to faith was helpful in some areas but not helpful for others when it came to addressing the issues, which I faced every day. I soon became aware of a whole list of do’s and don’ts, but there was rarely any adequate explanation concerning why these things were either good or bad. Nor was there any adequate explanation of the reasoning behind these prohibited or encouraged activities. The one saving grace was that I grew up in a family who loved to argue and debate. Consequently, I questioned everything and asked all the questions you are not supposed or permitted to ask, refusing to accept answers that didn’t make any sense to me. I made lots of mistakes but in the process I disciple myself, slowing learning how to live out my faith in a hostile and somewhat pagan context.
However, the reality is that many people who come to faith in our communities have a similar experience. Often, they either stop asking questions and stop thinking, or they simply walk away from the community of faith, because it doesn’t allow them to ask questions or to seriously think through their faith. How can we do better in discipling those who come to faith from outside the church community? Any suggestions?