Over the last decade, InterVarsity has seen a dramatic increase in the number of students who make decisions for Jesus each year. But have you ever asked, "How are we helping new believers become life-long disciples of Jesus?" That question has been nagging me for more than ten years. So, I was overjoyed when a joint effort between the Discipleship and Evangelism Departments developed the GROW Bible study just this purpose.
GROW: Learning to Follow Jesus is a four-part Bible study that leads new believers through their new identity as followers of Jesus and deepens their understanding of God, others and themselves. A spiritual discipleship worksheet helps students take the next steps in their relationship with Jesus. This study guide is intended to be used in partnership with a spiritual mentor, friend or staff person.
God is bringing spiritual fruit through this new discipleship tool. Below is an interview with Drew, an InterVarsity member who recently went through the first two GROW studies with his friend, Riley, who has made a recent decision to follow Jesus. Drew's story shows the impact that the GROW studies can have in the life of a new follower of Jesus.
Q: What did you like about the GROW Bible study series for new believers?
Drew: "The selected scripture passages were great, and the discussion questions helped us focus the conversation. Also, I really liked having a choice of applications. Believe it or not, Riley decided to do both challenges each week. But having the choice improved the ownership of our application."
Q: How did the first study on identity in Christ help Riley process his new faith decision?
Drew: "Riley told me that he has decided to follow God, but he does not believe that Jesus is God incarnate. So the discussion questions really clarified for me where he is at in his faith. I probably would not have asked otherwise."
Q: What else was good about the first study?
Drew: "I actually found the discussion questions to be very pertinent to me. Even though I have been following Jesus for a while, I was helped by focusing on the foundations of our faith. Riley was intrigued that I was also on the journey to understand what it fully means to be a Christian. My honest engagement helped him become more honest about himself. The basic application of week 1 was to journal, so Riley journaled all of the first week, which has cemented this new habit for him. In addition, the stretch challenge was to talk about your faith with another person. He decided to tell his mom. For him, that was a big stretch. The prayer portion of week 1 was excellent. It said, 'Let's take 30 seconds to be quiet and listen to God.' Riley said, 'No, let's take 5 minutes and sit in silence with God.' That is the first time he has even done this."
Q: You said the second study on relationships was good for you. What happened?
Drew: "It was helpful to talk through the options listed of new habits for spiritual growth. He chose reading the Bible, and he has been doing that on his own ever since. I chose sitting quietly each day with God. Riley has actually been asking me each day if I have been taking time to be quiet with God. It has been a surprising partnership for mutual growth. The stretch challenge was to forgive someone. He told me that he does not like how he and his sister relate to each other. He said, 'She is hard for me to forgive. I should not wait for her to bring up this conversation with me. I need to take this first step myself.'"
Take a look at the GROW resource today and see how it can challenge you in your faith walk. Also, begin thinking how you, like Drew, can walk someone through this resource for mutual growth.
GROW is now available on the InterVarsity Store for $1 per booklet, or 20 for $10. There is also an online version available for those beginning a journey with Jesus. See GROW: Learning to Follow Jesus.