Re-examining Our Faith for New Believers
Coming to faith is not an easy thing for those who have not brought up in the church. Because there are numerous cultural accretions added to the gospel, that doesn't make much sense to those entering our communities from the outside world. It can be highly confusing to our friendly neighbourhood pagan who comes to faith and is then confronted with a Christian culture, with its hopes and expectations, which look and feel so different from that which attracted him or her to Christ in the first place. Our lists of taboos, don't do this and don't do that or do this, appear to be so incongruous with the Jesus they read about in the Gospels and who drew them in to himself. Suddenly they are overwhelmed by the weight of expectation placed upon them by the community to which they now so precariously belong.
So how do we welcome new believers into the community of faith and encourage them in the Easter faith they have so recently experienced and embraced? It is no easy question to answer for a church that the limitations of Christendom have been confined for over a thousand years. Our desire to understand and respond to this question must entail a journey whereby we reassess the very nature of the gospel and the faith it produces in the lives of the individuals, who embrace it, and the community to which they belong. We must be willing to dig deep into our faith communities' cultures and seek to determine which must be retained and what may be left behind. We must consider such issues if we are to live out our faith by welcoming new believers, helping their spiritual growth and meaningful to the world they inhabit. Yet we must do this without compromising the very essence of the gospel or what it truly means to be the people of God.