TEFLON OR VELCRO?
~ Keeping Those We Win ~
by Dr. Waylon B. Moore
My family considers me the resident omelet expert! However, getting that
Western Omelet to slide out of the skillet whole used to
be more of an art than it is today. I remember the days before Teflon!
This tool that works wonders in the kitchen is, on the other hand, the
nightmarish condition of most churches. Teflon pews, if you will, or the
revolving door. People are saved and they join the church. They
come for a time, then, one day you notice they're missing from action.
They've slid off the pew.
Why do even wonderfully evangelistic churches lose so many new converts? One
reason is the time gap between initial salvation and their receiving
customized care by a trained encourager.
Furthermore, we let people slip and slide
off of our Teflon pews because we don't realize the cost of losing
a new convert. Let's look at one perspective of what it costs simply to get
one. What was your total church budget last year? Divide that figure by the
total number of baptisms for that period. You will get the startling dollar
figure it cost to win and baptize each one. Then, consider how many are still
active. Their citizenship in the Kingdom and active involvement in a local
church tangibly reflects thousands of dollars, and ministry hours.
Pastoring in Tampa, I wondered how effective our church was with our time and
treasures. God gave us over 100 people saved and baptized annually for 13
years. In addition, up to 250 others joined yearly. Using the prior
measurement, the cost was staggering yet well worth it! This reality
check gave our leadership a new perspective on our ultimate goal winning
and discipling people to be lifetime followers of Jesus. Lastly, new members
disappear because they are in diapers! The church must have a plan
in addition to Sunday School, cell groups or Bible studies for
helping babies grow to maturity.
Let's look at how to begin a networking process so that new converts and
members will stick, growing into reproducing disciples. Jesus' example teaches
us how to replace Teflon pews with Velcro relationships. Notice three amazing
parallels between what Jesus did with people whom He raised from the dead and
the sticking system of nurturing new believers.
The Widow of Nain's Son: Provide a Caring Mentor
Approaching the city of Nain, Jesus is met by a funeral
procession for the only son of a prominent widow.
He felt compassion. . . and touched the coffin. . . . And
He said, Young man, I say to you, arise! And the dead man sat up,
and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Like comets, most miracles have a tail, an important
lesson. In this miracle, Jesus gives a risen son, still in grave clothes, to
his mother. One would think this act would be automatic and obvious, but it
wasn't! Was Mom paralyzed in shock? Did the boy need physical help or special
Gary Kuhne has well said, Materials are a wonderful
supplement, but a poor substitute for sharing one's life.
Every new believer is wet cement. He needs a loving, caring person
who will mentor, lift, and encourage him. This encourager should be
recruited and mentored himself.
I modeled giving one-on-one time individually to a few Sunday
School department directors and teachers. They, in turn, took assignments to
mentor new believers who belonged in their departments. What a payoff we
experienced as our mentors did five things with our baby Christians!
1) Taught key Scripture principles and promises
2) Prayed with, and helped set up a daily devotional time
3) Counseled about their problems
4) Lovingly evaluated their progress
5) Took the new believer with them in practical ministry
One hundred years ago, master preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon pastored a
congregation of thousands. He observed: The greatest works are done by
the ones. The hundreds do not often do much the companies never. It is
the units, the single individuals, that are the power and the might.
Jairus' Daughter: Teach How to Eat God's Word
What a poignant story we find in Luke 8 where Jairus' daughter is raised from
death. Closing the door from the crowd of mourners, Jesus gathers with her
parents and His closest disciples. Our Lord brings the girl to life, then gives
Give her something to eat.
(verse 55). Food was vital sustenance for a girl who'd been raised from death
to life. This need parallels the spiritual food which a new Christian must
immediately have to thrive.
The example of the Early Church assures us that new converts were submerged in
Scripture. Spiritual leaders in the book of Acts quoted the Old Testament
Scriptures in 250 references. In addition, they quoted the words of
Jesus shared by the Apostles, which later became the Gospels. Christians didn't
own a personal Bible. So, converts learned as the Holy Spirit led mature
believers to model Biblical principles. Scripture had legs, if not pages!
Furthermore, believers met often, not just Sundays. Note the use of
in Acts (see
We, too, must help people learn to eat from the Bible's spiritual
supermarket, so they feed themselves. An author and supreme teacher from
Dallas Seminary, Howard Hendricks, says, First thing I do, crack out of
the box, after a person gets saved is to get them into Bible study. No
one can pig out on a Sunday sermon so it lasts seven days.
Providing a way for infants in Christ to have something to eat
daily is our goal.
Does your church or ministry have a plan to immediately immerse each new
believer into the Bible? The baby Christian needs simple feeding tools and
bottles of spiritual milk at first, not a giant banquet of Scripture. When
someone is led to Christ, first provide a study aid, along with a portion of
Scripture. Next, show him or her how to start, or better, let him join you in
your Quiet Time.
Lazarus: Fortify the Believer to Conquer Sin
In John 11, Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb to light and a
new life. Imagine Lazarus coming towards a shocked, gasping crowd with tiny
steps, hops, and wiggles. His legs, arms and face are wrapped in multiple
strips of grave bandages. Jesus commands,
Loose him and let him go.
When we see someone saved, we praise God and shake his hands.
But, do we see him with Christ's eyes, wearing grave clothes? How wonderful it
would be if, once saved, each of us could walk in instant victory and maturity.
Jesus could have said, Lazarus, just huff and puff, and break out.
However, it's quite significant that Jesus asked others in the scene to unbind
Lazarus. It is equally noteworthy that Jesus did not unwrap Lazarus Himself.
The Apostle John warns of three core desires that bind and destroy a life.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh
and the lust of the eyes
and the boastful pride of life
(success motive) (1 John 2:16). Some call these men motivators: girls,
gold, and glory. Some missionary ladies gave the terms a female perspective:
controlling, collecting, and competing.
You CONQUER the sex motive by taking up the cross, denying yourself (
You COUNTER the security motive through commitment of income and giving your
time to God (
1 Timothy 6:6-10
You CONFRONT the motive to be successful by choosing humility and the servant
Philippians 2:3, 4;
1 Peter 5:5, 6
As with physical life, we learn to walk one step at a time
1 John 2:6;
). We have a new life, a new Lord, a new home, a new walk. However, all of us
bring the baggage of grave clothes from our past. The Lord's
Spirit, through His Word in us, wills to replace these bindings with new
The Spirit teaches us to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
make no provision for the flesh . . . . (
). Each morning I prayerfully put on Jesus by vocally giving each
part of my body to Christ; then, I visualize putting on the armor of God (
). Every new convert needs the love, feeding, protection, and training of a
Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and
complete, not lacking anything.
Gave him back to his mother.
Every convert needs some ONE to help him more than some BOOK. Train carefully
at least one person in each Sunday School class or cell group to give 6 to 12
weeks of personal follow-up. Some churches call these mentors
Encouragers, after the meaning of the name of Barnabas,
who discipled Paul.
Give her something to eat.
Provide some immediate tool to help the believer do daily discovery in
Scripture. He should get his first bottle of spiritual milk at the
time of his conversion or when counseled about his decision. The Encourager
needs training in a resource covering: 1) the devotional life (Bible study and
prayer); 2) witnessing; 3) victory over sin, and obedience; 4) stewardship of
money and time; 5) baptism.
Question-and-answer Bible studies are quite rewarding for the
time spent. One help to start with is our
with six lessons from John's Gospel. For continued growth, our new
Living God's Word
is perfect! It's interactive and takes just minutes per day.
Loose him and let him go.
Help the person take off his grave clothes from the past life. Network the
convert into a group of caring believers in his general age and stage of life.
The group can share how they battle and win victory over old habits, hang-ups,
and hurtful reactions. An accountability group both quickens and strengthens
Jesus brought the widow's son, Jairus' daughter, and Lazarus back from the
dead. Yet Jesus gave the completion of each miracle to another person.
Likewise, salvation is Jesus' main miracle. We are the completion of His
wondrous work His heart and hands to Velcro a new believer so he
1 Lecture, Missions Unlimited Discipleship Conf., W. Palm Beach, FL, 1989.
2 Leadership: Vol. XI, No. 4, Fall, 1990, p. 45.