Three Steps for the New Christian
The first step is to start reading your Bible.
If you do not already know of a translation that you like, you can try the New International Version (NIV), the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New King James Version (NKJV) or the English Standard Version (ESV). The version that sounds like Shakespeare is called the King James Version (KJV) and can be obtained for free or extremely cheap. However, because it was translated in 1611 it is harder to read. You can see that the information is the same as a modern translation by reading below:
1 Thessalonians 4:1 in the NIV says, “As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.”
The same verse in the KJV reads, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.”
So you see that it is the same information, it’s just that one version is in modern English. The Bible does not change.
The second step is to find a good church.
A good church means a church that teaches the whole Bible, not just the happy parts. Calvary Chapel churches teach word-for-word through the Bible, as do many other churches such as Harvest Bible Fellowships or look for another non-denominational church. You will want to get solid Bible teaching and not just a sermon on a topic such as love or giving or helping the community. Those are all nice things, but God’s word is so full of wonderful information that taking a piece here or there is not the same as teaching something in-context.
Not every church is the same and not every church is going to be right for you.
When I first started going to church I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was still new to this whole Christian thing and I did not want to get sucked in to a church at was weird. I found a big church where I could blend in. Other than a stranger saying, “Hi.” And handing me a bulletin, I did not have to connect. As the weeks became months I started to feel more comfortable. I got to know the routine and the songs. Gradually I started staying later to talk to people and eventually ended up helping in the children’s ministry.
Years later I moved to the east coast. As I went from church to church each Sunday, trying to find a church that I felt comfortable in, I was shocked to see that some churches were cold. These east coast churches were historical churches where families had attended church for generations. These families practically had assigned-seating and they were very unwelcoming of new people.
The Bible warns us that there will be many people who call themselves Christians, but they are not Christians. (Matthew 7:21-27)
There is a big difference between someone who is a new Christian and just learning God’s ways and someone who has been in church for 50 years and is cold and cruel. Jesus says that we can tell when someone is not a Christian by their actions.
I am telling you all of this so that you do not get discouraged if you have to visit several churches before you find one that teaches the Bible correctly and has a style that feels comfortable to you. Some churches may have too much singing for you and others may not have enough. Some churches may dress up and some are very casual. Some churches are very welcoming and some are more standoffish. Do not give up. You will find one that feels like home.
Don’t get worked up if someone does or says something offensive.
Just remember that churches are made up of people who make mistakes every day. Do not be too hard on them. One day you will be the person in the church who has to make a good impression on a new person. Will you come to church every Sunday and do exactly the right thing? Probably not. And you will be thankful that the new person does not hold a grudge against you for not rushing up to make them feel comfortable or answering questions in the right way.
If you like the church overall, give it another try. Maybe you just visited on a bad day. Everyone has them!
The third step is to make a few Christian friends.
With the internet and smartphones it's easier to go through life without seeing people face to face. Going through life is hard enough without having to do it on your own. God never intended for us to have to be alone in this world. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) Now that you have Him, you also have His people. It will take some time and effort, but as you start to get involved you can make friendships that will last a lifetime and that will help you to grow as a Christian person.
Once you find a church you like, go up to someone and tell them that you are a new Christian and want to help out in some way. Some larger churches have programs to help you find somewhere to help at the church and others do not. As you work alongside other people you will develop relationships across age, social status, ethnicity and life experience. You will find out that you belong.
A good book to help you find out about God's plan for you is The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, here's a trailer for the movie about what happened when one person read it; https://youtu.be/pzNi-Vt2944 The book talks about why we were each created and how to find God's purpose for your life. Because it has been a best-seller for so many years you don't have to pay full price and can find it used, in thrift stores, or new at any major store.