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Chapter 6: Babies Need to Grow

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First Steps-- A Guide to the Growth and Development of Baby Christians

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Your personal Bible reading and prayer, as well as regular church attendance, are primary sources of spiritual nourishment as you grow and develop from a baby Christian into a mature Christian. However, there will be a number of opportunities for you to support and accelerate that growth process.

In evangelical terminology, a revival is a series of worship services which features a special speaker and special music. The purpose of the revival is twofold: (a) help born again Christians grow stronger spiritually, and (b) encourage persons who are not born again to accept Jesus Christ as a personal savior. Revivals vary in length but a typical pattern seems to be Tuesday evening over the following Sunday. In this schedule, the revival services will be held each evening and Sunday morning. Attend as many services as you can.

From time to time you will hear about rallies for Sunday school, youth, or missions. In evangelical jargon, a "rally" is a special service with an emphasis on a particular group or topic. A youth rally is designed to appeal to young people. A missionary rally may feature a missionary as the speaker. Attend all the rallies you can. You will meet persons from other churches within your denomination and will begin to sense that born-again Christians aren't merely widely-scattered crack pots who have gone overboard on religion.

If your church is affiliated with a denomination, you will be within a geographic region known as a district or assembly. On a yearly basis, all the churches within such an area send their pastor and a group of elected delegates to a district convention. In addition to taking care of electing regional officials, such a conference often includes reports made by the constituent churches to the general body.

It is not likely that a baby Christian will be elected as a delegate in the first year. However, if the convention is being held within easy driving distance of where you live, make a special point of attending the evening sessions.

These evening sessions are more like revival services than business meetings. A national church leader in your denomination will likely speak and special music may be provided by a composite choir from area churches. You will get a chance to see your national denominational leadership, be thrilled by the togetherness of a large gathering of evangelical Christians, and get a chance to meet more and more people who believe as you do. Most of all, you will get a rich opportunity to continue the growth process which is so important for all baby Christians.

Many evangelical denominations maintain regional or district facilities for holding "outdoor revivals" known as camp meetings. The traditional camp meeting is scheduled to run over two Sundays with services held three times a day. However, the camp meeting in your area may be scheduled for a shorter period of time with services once or twice a day.

The hub of the camp ground is the tabernacle, a large auditorium-type structure with open sides. Sawdust was used in the early tabernacles and a trip to the altar for prayer became known as "hitting the sawdust trail". The tabernacle is used for all general worship services. The facilities at some camp meetings are somewhat primitive. Others have air-conditioned and heated buildings which can be used year round.

The Sunbury Camp at Hummels Wharf, PA is an example of the old-style camp. It closed in 2001. However, I have maintained a commemorative website, just for old times sake. Click the Sunbury Camp link to visit the site.

Many churches have an adult education program with specific courses offered in Bible study, doctrine, church music, and Sunday school work. These courses are offered weekday evenings, Saturday, or on Sunday morning during the regular Sunday school hour. A certificate of accomplishment may be granted upon the completion of a specific group of courses.

Another form of adult education is the membership class. This program is designed to help the baby Christian grow to the point where he/she is ready for membership in the church. As a rule, evangelical churches limit membership to those persons who have accepted Jesus Christ as a personal Savior and whose lives reflect an understanding of the teachings of Christ.

If the pace, style, or content of available training programs do not completely fulfill your educational needs, try a home study plan. This approach permits you to study in your home at your own pace. Home study programs are available from most church publishing houses. Your pastor will undoubtedly be happy to help you get started.

The World Wide Web offers a wide range of spiritual growth opportunities on line. Use your favorite search engine and such key words as Christian Resources.

Most evangelical churches provide a summer Bible school for the children. This kind of program is known across the country as "Vacation Bible School". It may last from seven to fourteen days. The favorite times seem to be 9:30 to 11:30 A.M. or 7:00 to 9:00 P.M. The seven to nine schedule permits working persons to get involved as teachers and helpers.

The format is usually equal parts of Bible study, arts and crafts, and music. Most kids get a lot of enjoyment out of VBS and you will want your children to attend. The program may be climaxed by a special assembly for parents and friends. At this time there may be singing, a short musical drama, and recitations. Afterwards there will be a chance for parents and friends to tour the rooms and admire the arts and crafts.

VBS provides a good opportunity for a baby Christian to begin getting involved in helping to carry out the programs of the church. Teachers and helpers are needed. If you have a particular craft or skill, you may be pressed into service working with the arts and crafts program. This applies to men and women alike.

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