“Now That I’m A Christian: What It Means To Follow Jesus” by C. Michael Patton
For a new believer in Christ there are many things to be learned and questions that must be answered. And, while becoming a Christian is certainly wonderful, it can also be a little overwhelming to some. And rightfully so, Christianity isn’t just a matter of a singular spiritual experience, it is embracing an entirely new worldview. So there’s a lot to learn!
While “Now That I’m A Christian” covers the basics, don’t think it’s only for new converts. It is has both depth and substance. It is easy to read and doesn’t require having a stack of reference books to understand it. Patton introduces the reader to new concepts and theological words, but in a conversational tone and gives easy to understand definitions and illustrations.
I am a firm believer that Christian’s should be students of the Scriptures, so that they could properly understand their faith. New Christians should invest their time and effort in reading books like this, since it will promote life-long spiritual growth and stability.
I find that “Now That I’m a Christian” a useful book and is written primarily to answer questions new believers have about their faith. Since it’s merely 164 pages, the length is not overwhelming. There are 10 chapters, each one addressing a major facet of the Christian faith. Every chapter is concise, but is helpful, encouraging and thorough.
The layout is very practical as well. The first five chapters focus on Christian orthodoxy, (i.e. basics of the faith: Bible, Man, God, Christ, and Faith.) and the last five chapters center on Christian orthopraxy (i.e.: Prayer, Study, Church, Suffering, and Mission). At the conclusion of each chapter there a number of discussion questions and a list of resources to help the readers dig deeper. Overall I would recommend “Now That I’m A Christian” to all believers regardless of where they are in their walk with Christ. If your church is thinking of starting a new converts class or refreshing the one you have, this would be ideal. Just use each chapter to create a ten week class.
As a pastor/teacher I especially liked the chapter on Bible Study. Patton shows the reader common mistaken methods of bible study, then reveals a proper three step method: Exegetical: what did it mean then?, Theological: what does it mean for all people of all places of all times? And finally, Homiletical: how does it apply to us? His examples are simple, but help to illustrate his point very well. This chapter alone would be very beneficial to all believers, but especially those who are new to the faith.
Patton’s decision to include a chapter about suffering shows his heart for pastoral ministry. Suffering is possibly the greatest theological and experiential stumbling block for a new Christians. I thought it was a good idea to inform new converts about the issue of hardships and suffering in relation to the Christian faith early on in their journey.
My only criticism of “Now That I’m A Christian” is that it lacks mentioning church membership. While Patton distinctly implies that Christians should be dedicated to a church, he fails to develop the idea. I’ve known numerous new believers who avoid becoming a members of a local church. A couple of uncomplicated paragraphs delineating the scriptural basis of being a church member would have certainly been helpful. A book that addresses so many valuable topics would have been the ideal place to mention this. Membership in a church is indispensable to the long-term discipleship of every Christian, regardless of how long they’ve been a believer. The chapter about the church is good and while Patton implies that the fellowship of the church is essential, this topic could have addressed more thoroughly.
How To Use This Book
This book is a useful resource for those who have recently placed their faith in Christ. But, while this book is a wonderful resource, we can’t merely hand it to new Christian and say “just read this and you’ll become a mature disciple of Christ. I genuinely appreciate Patton’s position on the need for Christian relationships as a means for spiritual growth. Far too many churches avoid this aspect and just hand out a new book. Do not let that be said about your church.
Readers will find this book instantly valuable. For instance, at the close of each chapter, there are questions and a number of additional resources listed for further study. I found the book to be easy to read and very helpful especially for new Christians. This book would work well in a class or small group setting, such as a new believer’s class in Sunday school or as a mentoring tool by paring up more mature believers with newer converts. For the older believer it could be very beneficial as a “refresher” course. And, reading its contents would help them in conveying their faith to others in an easy and conversational way.
I am a firm believer in using good books to accelerate Christian knowledge and spiritual growth. As Christians we should be readers and thinkers. While no book written by men is perfect, there are books that are beneficial. Now That I’m a Christian is a wonderful example of one such book.