That Crucial First Year
The evangelist was quietly persistent.
“When we invite new believers into the watery grave of baptism, we’re making a promise that we won’t leave them ‘high and dry’ on the other side. We’re pledging that we won’t leave them spiritually charged but relationally abandoned.”
You could feel the tension—watch the shifting body postures—as the evangelist’s words found their target among the 80 pastors and local elders at the weekend retreat.
“When we invite men and women to follow Jesus, we must have given careful thought to the magnitude of the changes we’re urging in their lives,” he continued. “We must understand the decisions we’re asking them to make.”
With deft strokes he sketched for all of us the amazing upheaval that frequently occurs in the lives of those newly baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist faith.
“Understand the changes in their intellectual world,” he urged. “Don’t assume that the typical man or woman responding for baptism will move easily from one worldview to a completely new one. They may have previously had only vague ideas about origins: now they’re confessing faith in both a Creator and His special day, the Sabbath. Their entire notion of history has shifted. Their concept of time—weekly time—has shifted.”
He let the impact of his words sink in. “You’ll agree that this is no small thing.”
“Understand the changes in their spiritual lives as well,” the evangelist cautioned. “They may have had no relationship with Jesus Christ—no sense that He wants to walk and talk with them each day. Their ideas about who Jesus is and how He seeks to fill their lives may have been very casual or even nonexistent. You’re telling them that there is a living Lord who cares about every detail of their daily lives. He’s communicating with them in every waking hour through the agency of the Holy Spirit. This is earthshaking news.”
“Understand the changes in their professional lives. For some this will be a painful, even gut-wrenching, dislocation from habits and work relationships of 20 or more years. Not only are you asking them not to work on God’s holy day of rest—you’re reframing how they think about their workweek, what they talk about around the office water cooler, how they conduct themselves in conversations in the office or the factory. This new faith invades every hour of consciousness.”
“Understand the changes in their most important relationships. Unless they grew up in an Adventist home, almost every new believer will struggle with how their new faith affects key relationships with family members and friends. You’re asking them to make a decision that could radically change their ties to those who are at the core of their sense of well-being.”
He scanned our faces for a sign that his words had made their calculated impact. “Do you understand the promises you are making to them as well?”
We’re beginning to understand.
That’s why, dear reader, we’re inviting you again this year to join the Adventist Review team in reaching out to support and encourage thousands of new believers during their crucial first year of membership.
We’re urging you to partner with us in the next 12 months to provide one free year of the Review to every person across North America who joins the church by baptism or profession of faith.
We’ve built a partnership team of doctrinally rich contributors, spiritually alive columnists, experts in health and lifestyle choices, and the finest authors in Adventism. We’ve brought dozens of local conferences on board as they contribute $10 toward a 12-month Review subscription for each new believer in their territories.
Now we need your help. Just $15 puts 36 issues of this nurturing, encouraging magazine in the hands of the newly baptized during that crucial first year. For $90 you can anchor six new believers when they most need it. Ten new believers will find strength, new understanding, useful spiritual and lifestyle advice, and a closer walk with Jesus when you contribute $150.
Make a life-changing choice yourself today. Go to our Web site, AdventistReview.org, and click on the button “Contribute Now,” or send us a check (12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD 20904) to support new believers during that crucial first year.
We’ve all made promises to new believers.
Let’s keep them.