Thanks to Exegete for urging me to post on this blog.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, lived a young man. He and his family were involved in their local church. They had attended regularly since he was only a few years old. Because this was a church and family who believed baptism was symbolic and should be applied only to those who had already trusted on Christ, he had not been baptized. As he grew his family was very involved in teaching him about the Christian faith. Though he was not able to articulate his faith in adult terms, he spoke regularly about Jesus’ love for him, his trust in Jesus as his savior, and his desire to live a life dedicated to Christ. As he learned to read he would frequently read from the Bible and wanted to read books about Christians.
The family approached the elders of the church, who talked with them. Because baptism was reserved for those who were confessing their Christian faith, the elders requested that he do a Bible study about passages from the New Testament related to baptism. After doing so and having several more interviews with the leaders of the church, he was baptized when he was nine years old. He was admitted to communion and continued to grow in his faith.
Alas, the family became persuaded of some different doctrinal views and began attending a different church congregation. While the parents were accepted as Christians and welcomed into the church body, the new congregation always had students complete a two-year instructional course prior to being admitted to the body and welcomed to communion. Wishing to submit to the leadership of the church, the young man waited until he was allowed to enter the course, then participated in it for two years. Because he was steadfast in the Scriptures and had been thinking about and articulating his Christian faith for some years he was an outstanding student in the course and was later admitted to communion.
We see here two of the many possible approaches to discipleship in the local church congregation. There are certainly other patterns which can be defended biblically. What are the strengths and weaknesses of what I wrote about above? What were the special challenges this young man faced? What do you think would have proven especially discouraging to him? How about features which may have been very encouraging and strengthened his faith?
By the way, the young man is still a young man, though several years older than he was during this part of his journey. He is steadfast in his commitment to Jesus. We can look for him to serve his Lord for many many years in exciting and fruitful ways.