Discipleship and spiritual formation curriculum for new believers, new Christians

Introduction

by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
 

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6:42

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Getting ready to begin the new believer discipleship and spiritual formation series. If you have just become a follower of Jesus, congratulations! You have begun the most important journey of your life!

We have designed these lessons to help you begin the journey well. Just as you might go to an outdoor or wilderness store to outfit yourself for a hike in the mountains, these lessons will equip you for the early stages of your Christian journey.

The Christian life deserves the best start you can give it.

A Journey with Others

Let me begin with a basic assumption. The "Jesus walk" is not a solitary journey, but one undertaken with Jesus himself and some of his disciples. If you try to do this study by yourself, you will miss out. That is because many of the secrets of the Christian life are not just taught, they are caught as they are modeled in the lives of other believers.

If you are planning to go on a backpacking trip, you may get all the books you can on the subject. But it is even better to go on a hike with an experienced person who has been on the trail before.

Getting Started

In this series, we look at 12 basic lessons on living as a Christ follower. We examine Christianity from three points of view so you get a well-rounded introduction.

  1. Beliefs -- What we believe about God's grace through Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit, known as "doctrine."
  2. Values -- The radical principles that Jesus teaches us concerning love, forgiveness, generosity, and service.
  3. Spiritual Disciplines -- How to live the Christian life successfully: prayer, resisting temptation, worship, and living by the Holy Spirit.

Each of these is important to help you grow healthy as a Christ-follower. You'll learn how to be a disciple. The mandate for discipleship comes from Jesus' command: "Make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19) that is, committed learners and followers. This process also involves spiritual formation, that is, character development patterned after Christ himself, as St. Paul put it, "I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you" (Galatians 4:19).

How these Lessons Work

Here are the components of the JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey experience:

  1. Mentor. These lessons are intended to be studied with a mentor, a person who has been a Christian for a while. The word "mentor" means, "a trusted counselor or guide; tutor, coach." One of the most important functions of your mentor is to help you develop healthy habits of Christian living and provide accountability so you will grow steadily and well. Do not try to do this alone.
  2. Meeting Weekly. Over the course of this study, you will be meeting each week with your mentor. Of course, it is possible to read all the lessons in a few hours. But learning to live as a Christian is not primarily understanding a set of beliefs. Rather it involves internalizing a lifestyle of following Jesus in a personal way.  This is a process that takes time -- hence, the weekly lessons.
  3. Lessons. The teaching portion of each lesson is available on the Internet in video, audio, and written form at no charge. If you are able, try to watch the video together with your mentor. If, for some reason, the video is not available, then listen to the audio together or read the lesson aloud together.
  4. Questions and Discussion Points. After you watch or listen to the lesson, then talk about each of the questions and discussion points with your mentor. The questions will help you understand better the important points of the lesson. Other discussion points are opportunities for you and your mentor to talk about different aspects of Christian life.
  5. Bible Memory Verse. Memorization of one verse each lesson helps the new believer internalize the truths of that lesson.

By design, these 12 lessons are quite basic. If you have been a Christian for a while, you'll probably find them too simple for you. You need Bible studies that are more challenging.  But if you're a new Christian -- especially if you don't have a Christian background -- you'll find these lessons are just what you need to help you grow in Christ.

How to Find a Mentor

Often a church will help find a mentor for new Christians. If so, you don't have to worry about it. But if you are a new Christian who does not have a mentor, here are some ways to find one:

  1. Pray and ask God to help you find a mentor who can meet with you. God is faithful and will answer your prayers.
  2. Invite a Christian whom you know and respect to be your mentor for these lessons. Even if this person is not able to help you, he or she may be able to find you a mentor who can meet with you. Then have this person read or watch the video in  Appendix 1, "The Role of the Mentor."
  3. Ask the pastor of a church near where you live. The pastor may not be familiar with JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey materials, so you might want to bring with you some pages that you have printed out. The pastor can probably find a person in the church who can help you. Be sure to have the pastor read or watch the video in Appendix 2, "For Pastors and Church Leaders."

Lessons Are Free

I have designed JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey to be available free via the Internet around the world. That is my joy. Your costs to view the lessons will be low -- only an Internet access charge and the cost of printing out the lessons.

For those who desire -- and can afford it -- this study is available in book and DVD formats also. We don't keep an inventory on hand, but rather supply the books through a Print On Demand service. Though I receive many requests to send free copies of lessons, Bibles, books, CDs, and DVDs by mail in the USA and overseas, I must say "No" to all those requests due to the costs of staffing, printing, and postage that would be required. The Internet enables low cost distribution internationally, but I just can't afford requests to mail free hard copies. I am sorry.

A Desire to Learn

  JesusWalk - Beginning the Journey book cover
Printed books, e-books, and a DVD set are available

You may want to jump ahead in the lessons. That is a natural desire. But remember, this is a process of spiritual formation in your soul, not a body of material to be mastered for a written test. You can look ahead, but for this series to produce actual spiritual growth in you -- rather than just increase your knowledge -- you need to watch the video (or read the material) and discuss it with your mentor each week. You'll get much more out of it this way!

Get Started

Once you have found a mentor, make an appointment to get together for your first meeting. It will be the beginning of a great relationship that will help you on your journey.

May God richly bless you as you learn to walk with Christ!

Yours in Christ's service,
Dr. Ralph F. Wilson


JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey
New Christian, New Believer Discipleship Training and Spiritual Formation

Copyright © 1985-2017, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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