How you treat new believers is especially important within the first 24-48 hours after their conversion. There is a type of bonding that must occur early and only with God. It is the same as feeding a newborn baby.
We need to imprint God as the parent, not ourselves or the church. In the field of Ornithology, or the science of birds, there is a term called “imprinting.” A newborn gosling hatching from an egg will imprint on the first moving object it sees and will then follow it for food, protection, and training to become a goose. When people come to faith, it is important that they “imprint” upon Jesus for their protection, sustenance, and training in how to fly.
Unfortunately, we often isolate new Christians and teach them to “imprint” to those in the church. If new Christians do not rely on God for growth and guidance, they will expect other humans to teach them how to live. This creates a spiritual codependency. Christian leaders feel a sense of importance and followers passively allow the leaders to do all the work. As leaders and disciplers, we serve as a midwife as people come to faith, not as a parent.
Note: This blog entry is part of a series based on Beyond Church Planting (coauthored with Neil Cole) that explores the process of evangelism and coming to faith.