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Southgate Methodist Church, Elland
and Christian Centre

How do I become a Christian?

If you have read the article on what Christians believe, considered the consequences, and would like to become a Christian, you may be asking. 'How do I do it?'

Actually, it's as easy as saying a prayer.

You need to review your life and tell God that you're sorry about things you've done wrong, whether that's deeds, thoughts, or attitudes. Don't worry too much that there might be something you've missed. If there is, God will remind you about it in His own time, and you can deal with it then. But if your conscience is troubling you about something, and you feel God telling you to get it off your chest now, do so. You can talk about it to God in private prayer, or you can talk to and pray with another person about it if you think that will help.

What is most important is that you are seeking to commit your life to God and live from now on the way He wants you to live. You must be serious about this, serious enough to make major changes in your lifestyle, if that is what God is asking of you.

You need to spend some time in quiet with God, and ask Him to tell you what he is saying to you.

You may find it helpful to talk to a Christian minister or to a Christian friend. Otherwise, you can find a minister of your own choice locally. Look on Church Notice Boards for ministers' telephone numbers, and ring to arrange a meeting.

If you are certain you want to make this commitment, you can do it by saying the following prayer, either on your own or in the presence of someone else:

"Father God, I thank you for giving Jesus Christ your Son to die for me, so I can be forgiven, and to rise again so I can have eternal life.

I ask you to forgive me for all I have done wrong. I commit myself to you, and to live life your way from now on.
I ask you to send me the gift of your Holy Spirit, to make me the kind of person you want me to be, and to give me the strength and power I need to live and work for you.

Lord, be close to me, and help me to find joy in serving you and others.

In Jesus' name. Amen."

What do I do now?

Now you need to cultivate the habits that will help you to grow in your Christian life, and sustain your Christian commitment. It's a good idea to spend some time every day praying and reading the Bible. This is easier for some of us, than for others. As to when this time should be, the answer will be different for different people. Some may find time spent getting to work on public transport the best time (don't attempt to do it while you're driving!); some favour half an hour first thing in the morning; others last thing at night; some homemakers favour the time when they finally get the last family member out of the house! Whatever time works for you is best.

Some people will find it difficult to set aside a regular prayer time, either due to irregular schedules or because their personality reacts against rigid routines. Such people may prefer to spend a longer time in prayer at less regular intervals. But don't let it become too infrequent. It's as important to keep up your relationship with God as it is your human relationships. If you find it difficult to plan prayer every day, you may wish to consider attending a conference or going on retreat where you can concentrate on God for an extended period of time.

It's a good idea to follow Bible reading notes, which gives passages to read every day, and a short comment explaining the passage and applying it to everyday life. Good examples of this kind of material are provided by Scripture Union, International Bible Reading Association, and Bible Reading Fellowship. These and other similar sets of notes are readily available from Christian Bookshops (Wesley Owen, SPCK and Christian Literature Crusade are nationwide chains, there are also many independent local shops - look in the telephone directory) or church bookstalls.

Don't cut yourself off from friends who haven't made the same commitment to Christ. Jesus calls us to be "in the world, but not of it". This means we need to remain in contact with the world outside, and show people through our words and actions what Jesus has done in our lives. Don't try to "shove your message down other people's throats". You won't win friends for yourself or the Gospel that way! But make sure your life is worthy of your Lord, and that you are obeying his teaching at work, at leisure, and in your private life. Then, quietly, as the opportunity presents itself, be prepared to talk about your faith - in the same way that you would talk about any other aspect of your life, to anyone who will listen.

Join a Church

Any Christian church, of any denomination. If you have connections with a church (maybe friends or family members go there) it may be as well to go there, although for some people, that would be the wrong thing. If you have been attracted to the Christian faith by the witness of someone else, it would make sense to go to the same church as that person. They will then be able to help you as you make progress in the faith. Otherwise, it will probably be necessary to visit a local church at random, to see what it's like. You may well wish to visit more than one. But make your mind up without too much delay. You need the help and support of fellow-Christians, and they need yours! Try to find a place where your faith is nurtured and you feel at home.

You cannot be a member of God's universal church without belonging to a local branch. It doesn't work that way. You may feel uncomfortable about adopting a denominational label, but unfortunately in most places we don't have any other option. However even if you do adopt a "label", you don't necessarily have to adopt all the "baggage" that comes with it. Commit yourself to the church you join, but sit lightly to the tradition and the prejudices that sometimes accompany it. Commit yourself first and foremost to Christ, and to your denomination and local church as part of your commitment to Him.

Try to attend worship every Sunday, whether at home, at work, or on holiday. You need the regular fellowship of fellow-believers. If you have a mobile lifestyle, you may end up worshipping at a variety of churches. This can have drawbacks, but also advantages. And try to find time to meet in fellowship with a small group of believers with whom you can share at a deeper level. Above all, remember God calls you to serve. Find ways in which you can serve God, and the world around, both through the church and alongside it. And God bless you by His Spirit as you seek to live and work for Him.