In Part 1 of this series, we thought about what it meant if we were acting like a ganker (or felt like a newb) in the church. When we encounter others who fit these descriptions, though, we have different – yet specific – responsibilities.
If you run into a ganker in the church, who is disrupting the unity for which Jesus prayed, the Bible defines a polite process by which professed followers of Jesus can lovingly correct each other.
“If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
Matthew 18:15-17 NLT
Spend time in prayer before meeting with someone who needs a little correction, and remember that the goal is their growth and restoration, not your personal convenience or a boost to your ego (because you want them to know that you are right!).
And, if you run into a newb in the church, your mission is even more clear: Help them to grow. This might be as simple as pointing them towards some books, podcasts, or habits that will help them become more mature. However, in this case, if you’ve been maturing as a Christian for a while, I really hope that you’ll consider something more robust: What if you offered to mentor and disciple someone for a year? This doesn’t have to be real formal, but even getting together once a month to talk and maybe answer some questions can make a life-long impact in someone else’s life. (See From the Other Side of Manhood, although the messages from that article aren’t limited to men.)
I also think that a key element of treating newer Christians in the church is to not “sin-ify” things that are not sinful. If a fellow Christian stands up when the minister makes a great point, and cheers like his team just scored a goal, support him with a little clapping or an “Amen”, even if you’re more inclined to just nod in agreement. God can be glorified through many forms of worship. If a new believer is sporting a well-drawn tattoo, and you’re not into that sort of thing, stop by and ask her about it. You can say, “Nice ink! Where’d you get it?” And, if you personally wouldn’t wear that “Jesus Rocks!” T-shirt to church, don’t be afraid to walk up to someone who did, welcome them to the Body of Christ, and invite them to sit with you.
One of the great things about the collection of people who follow Jesus is that they are not all the same. It might be helpful if we weren’t all imperfect; however, realizing that this is the case can help us to find common ground and extend grace to others. No matter where each of us currently stands on path of becoming like our perfect example (Jesus Christ), may we always be taking that next step towards the goal, and extending a hand to help others along the way.