Following Jesus - A Course for New Christians

Lesson 3: Growing in the Christian Faith

Rev John Hibberd

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.



These lessons are for new Christians.  The pastor will teach some parts of the lesson.  He will ask you to talk about some other parts of the lesson.  You can ask the pastor questions too.

Notes for the pastor: it would be good to begin each lesson with some worship and prayer.

1.  The pastor should ask people to go into groups of about six people.  The people will then try to answer the question: ‘Why is it important for a Christian to go to church?’  Tell them that they have about 10 minutes to do this.

2.  The pastor should ask the groups to tell him their answers.

3.  The pastor should then teach them from these notes.

The Church

In the first two lessons we have thought about the good news about Jesus.  We have concentrated on the good news about Jesus in your personal life.  It is right to do this.  You can only follow Jesus if you yourself have received him into your life.  Some people have attended a church for many years. However, if they do not have a personal faith, they are not Christians.  We said this in lesson one.  If you go to church, that does not make you a Christian.  So it has been helpful for us to talk about this.  Each one of us must believe in Jesus for himself or herself. 

In this lesson, we need to say something different, but it is just as important.  Some people think that it is enough for them to believe in Jesus.  They believe that they do not need to go to church as well.  Can you be a Christian even if you do not go to church?  The Bible says ‘No’.  When you become a follower of Jesus, you become part of his family.  All those who follow him are his family.  They are your sisters and brothers because they believe as you believe.  The Bible says:

‘Each person has a body, but that body has many parts.  All those different parts make up the one body.  And the body of Christ is like that too.’  (1 Corinthians 12.12, EE draft version)

This Bible passage talks about a body.  It uses this idea about a body to speak about the church. That is, those who belong to Christ.  You may be like a ‘hand’ and another person is like a ‘foot’.  Yet another person is like an ‘eye’, but you are all parts of one body.  If the body does not have feet, it cannot walk.  If a body does not have eyes, it cannot see. 

·   The church is not complete if you refuse to join it.  You are an important part of the church ‘body’.

·   You are not complete as a Christian if you do not join the church.  Most people are able to go to church, and they should do so.  A few people may not be able to go to church.  Such people include those who cannot leave their homes because of illness.  You may have become a follower of Jesus in a place where there are no other Christians.  God understands this, and you should not feel guilty.

·   You yourself must believe in Jesus to be a real Christian.  Then you should join together with other Christians who follow him.  When you join the church, you do so in public.  It is another way to say publicly that you are a follower of Jesus.  (We looked at this in lesson one.)

What do we do in church?  How can these things help us to live as Christians?

Baptism: welcome into the church

Baptism by itself does not save you (see lesson one).  However, baptism is the public declaration of your faith in Jesus.  It is also your welcome into the church.  The Bible says,

‘*Repent and receive baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.  Then God will forgive your sins.  And God will give you his Holy Spirit.’ (Acts 2.38, EE draft)

The local pastor baptises the new Christians.  The members of the church welcome them.  The new Christian can invite family and friends to this ceremony.  Baptism can be a good opportunity to tell the good news about Jesus to other people. So invite those who do not know Jesus to the ceremony.

If you would like to receive baptism, speak to the pastor after the lesson.

The Lord’s Supper:  when we remember the death of Jesus

Before his death, Jesus and his followers ate a special meal.  He gave his friends a piece of bread and a drink from a cup of wine.  The Bible says:

‘Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. Then he broke the bread into pieces. He gave pieces of the bread to all his *apostles. He said to them, ‘This is my body. I give it in your place. From now on, do this to remember me and what I did for you’. After the meal, Jesus gave them a cup of wine to share. He said, ‘This cup is God’s new agreement in my blood, which I shall pour out for you.  I will let people kill me so that this agreement can happen.’  (Luke 22.19-20, WA-EE draft amended by Norman Hillyer)

Every time that we share this special meal, we remember that Jesus died for us.   As the Bible says:

‘Although we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread.  This shows that we are all one family, because we all eat from the same loaf of bread.’          (1 Corinthians 10.17, EE draft) 

Bible teaching:  when we learn from God’s words

If you can read and you have a Bible, then you should read your Bible at home.  It is good to read something from the Bible every day.  Pray a short prayer.  Ask God to help you to understand the Bible.  Look in the passage to see if:

·   God gives you a promise to remember

·   God warns you about something you should not do

·   God teaches you something true that is new for you

·   God shows you something to help you.  It helps you to live as he wants you to live at this moment.

The church also has a responsibility to teach its members from the Bible.  This is even more important if some members cannot read.  They can only learn from what they hear in church.  When you go to church:

·   Listen carefully when someone reads the Bible

·   Listen carefully to the person who speaks about it

·   Do not just listen to the Bible; you must obey what it teaches.  As it says in the Bible:

‘But do not just listen to the word of God. Do what it says too. If you do not, you will be making a mistake. You will be like a man who sees his face in a mirror. As soon as he goes away, he forgets what he is like.’             (James 1.22-24, WA-EE)

The Bible is not like any other book.  Human beings wrote it, but God directed them.  He showed them what they should write.  Therefore, we should expect God to speak to us by means of the words of the Bible.  This is why it is called God’s Word.  The gospels contain stories about the life of Jesus, and the things that he taught.  If you have not read the Bible before, begin to read one of the gospels.

Prayer:  conversation with God

You can pray in church and you can pray on your own.  You should try to pray every day.  How should you pray?

Use your own words

You do not need to use special language to speak to God.  You can just tell him how you feel.  You can tell him what you need. 

In Jesus’ name

When we pray, we come to God.  He is the maker of all that we see.  It is a great honour for us to be able to talk to him.  We can only do this because Jesus has opened a way to his Father for us.  So, we come to God in Jesus’ name.  For this reason, at the end of their prayers many Christians say: ‘in Jesus’ name. Amen.’

Different types of prayer

·   When you say that you are sorry.  You may do something that you know is wrong.  Then you should say sorry to God for it.  We have already seen that God will forgive us if we say sorry to him  (lesson one:  1 John 1.9).

·   Thank God.  Always remember to thank God for what he has done for you.

·   Ask God.  Most people want to ask God to help them.  That is quite right.  You can ask for big things or for small things.  Ask God because you trust him to answer. 

·   Listen to God.  When you pray, try to be quiet for some of the time.  God wants to speak to us.  Sometimes a word may come into your mind, or you might even hear a voice.  It may be difficult to pray like this at first.  However, you will learn to recognise when God speaks to you if you continue to pray in this way.

The *Lord’s Prayer

The followers of Jesus asked him to teach them to pray.  He gave them this prayer pattern (Luke11.2-4):

‘Father, we pray to you.
Your name is very important.
We love it very much. 
Let the day come when you rule your *Kingdom on earth. 
Please give us the food that we need for each day. 
Forgive us for all the bad things that we have done. 
We forgive everyone who has done bad things to us. 
Do not let *Satan come to us.’ 

Christians have considered it an honour to use similar words for 2000 years.  You can also use them as a pattern for prayer.

When we pray together with other Christians, we should pray for the world around us.  As God’s people, we pray for nations, for the leaders of nations, for all Christians around the world, and for people’s needs.

Giving:  our thanks to a generous God

God has given us so much.  He could have decided that we are not worth anything.  Instead he sent his Son to die for us.   He wanted to rescue us.  Then he sent his Holy Spirit to help us live.  He wants us to live the Christian life.  God always gives and he is always generous.  He gives much more to us than we deserve.  And his gifts to us are free.  The Bible calls this ‘grace’.  

God wants us to be generous too.  He wants us to be people of ‘grace’.  How can we do that?

We give our money

Some of you may not have much money.  Some of you may have a lot of money.  The Bible is our guide.  It proposes that we should give one tenth part of our income.  Decide that you will give some money to God’s work.  This Bible verse will help you to have the right attitude:

‘Each person should decide how much money to give.  Do not feel sad about it.  Do not make others think that they ought to give more.  It pleases God to see someone who is happy to give.’                          (2 Corinthians 9.7, EE draft) 

We give our time

In the second lesson we heard about the gifts from the Holy Spirit.  God gives these gifts for the good of the whole church.  Every Christian can do something for the church.  We serve the church when we do such work.  Too often only a few people want to serve God like this.  Decide to give some time to your local church.  This Bible verse may help you to learn from the example of Jesus:

‘For the *Son of Man did not come for people to serve him. Instead he came to serve others. He came to give his life as the price for setting many people free.’  (Mark 10.45, WA-EE) 

We give the good news to other people

Every Christian can tell other people about Jesus.  Even if it is difficult for you to speak clearly about the good news, even then you can share the story of how you became a Christian.  We must tell others because this is the most important news that a person can hear.  As the Bible says:

‘Then they said to each other, ‘We are not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves’.’ (2 Kings 7.9, NIV)

We have talked about many good things that God has given to help us.  These things help us to become better Christians - the church, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Bible, prayer, and when we give things.  Sometimes you will learn more and will see a change in yourself very quickly.  At other times, you will only see a change after many months or years.  ‘Disciple’ is the name for a follower of Jesus.  ‘Disciple’ means that we want to learn more and more about Jesus.  It means that we want to become more like him.  We will do this for the rest of our life.

A Verse to Remember

The main point of this lesson is to look at how we can become better Christians.  We must do this in the church – the ‘body of Christ’.

We will finish this lesson with a Bible verse for you to learn and to remember.  Before we learn this week’s verse, we need to check last week’s Bible verse. Can you remember it?

[Note to the pastor:  ask them to say last week’s verse from memory.]

Last week’s verse was:

‘God has given us life that never ends. He has given it through his Son. So if anyone belongs to the Son of God, he has this *eternal life. But anyone who does not belong to the Son of God does not have *eternal life.’ (1 John 5.11-12, WA-EE, amended by Norman Hillyer) 

The new verse for this week is:

‘I am running straight for the prize. That prize is God’s call to enter heaven, because of what Jesus has done for us.’  (Philippians 3.14, WA-EE, amended by Norman Hillyer) 

Repeat this verse each day.  Ask God to give you the real desire to become a better Christian every day of your life. 

Word List


The twelve men that Jesus chose to be his helpers. 

eternal life

The new quality of life for those who believe in Jesus.  This new life with Jesus will go on for ever.  It will never end.


A kingdom is the place where a king rules.  The kingdom of God is over which God rules.  In the *Lord’s Prayer, we pray that God may rule more and more on this earth.


The name for God in the Bible.  It means that he has all power and authority.  It is a name that we also use for Jesus.


To turn from sin [see ‘sin’] to God’s ways. 


Another name for the evil one or the devil.

Son of Man

Special name that Jesus used for himself.


© 1997-2003, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

23 May 2003

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