Yesterday I began a series of posts on the cost(s) of following Jesus. We would all agree that following Jesus is costly. And I suppose we would all agree that faithful evangelism and preaching must be clear about the cost of following the Lord. But what I'm interested in here is how that truth affects pastoral ministry, especially as we welcome new converts into the fold fresh from the world.
And to think about that a little, I want to sketch a series of scenarios and ask you all to share thoughts about how to care for people in these cases. With each case, I'll do two posts. The first post will offer the scenario and the main questions. The second post will, quite frankly, steal from your good suggestions and comments and a few of my own to attempt an answer of sorts. I really want to learn from others in all of this. So, "bring da Book!" Bring your experience. Bring other resources. Let's think together about this issue.
Scenario 1: "Brad," the Unmarried Father of Three
Imagine a single man in his mid-thirties, let's call him "Brad". He's been attending your church for several weeks now, listening attentively and showing interest in spiritual things. You have opportunity to get to know Brad a little bit. He works at a construction site nearby. He received his GED after dropping out of high school in the 10th grade. His father left the family when Brad was about 13 and he hasn't seen him since.
Today, Brad tells you he thinks he has been born again. He trusts the Lord Jesus and wants to follow him. You ask a few questions, and it seems Brad understands the gospel clearly. He gives you a pretty good God-man-Christ-response outline. You ask him about repentance and faith. He speaks to some particular ways he is repentant and joyfully speaks of giving himself over to Christ in trust.
Next week, Brad comes to church and takes up an entire pew with a young woman and three children. After the service, he excitedly introduces the woman to you as his girlfriend, "Jill," and the three children as his sons and daughter, "Brad, Jr.", "Thomas," and "Zoe."
They've been living together for 13 years. The oldest child is 14, about Brad's age when his father left. The youngest child is 3. The mother works as a waitress. The family primarily depends on Brad's income, which sometimes has seasonal ups and downs. Brad is the only believer in the family.
Neither Brad nor Jill really value marriage, since they've seen a lot of heartache in abuse, abandonment, infidelity, and divorce. They've lived together 13 years and they've worked it out okay; they're happy. Because they love one another and are committed to one another, they don't think their relationship is sinful nor do they think "a piece of paper" matters that much.
Brad wants to be baptized and join the church.
How do you counsel Brad? Do you baptize him and admit him to membership?
What specifically are the costs you think he may have to pay to follow Jesus? And how do you and the church help him to pay those costs?
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