Philippa Cook offers practical advice to those who have decided they want to follow Jesus.


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I grew up in a Christian family. My mum always said that I was a Christian before I was born, as I always used to kick in-utero during the singing at church while she was pregnant with me (although I suppose we will never know if that was just a protest to yet another rendition of Shine Jesus Shine).

When I was seven, I first experienced the power of prayer at Spring Harvest when an accident on the site at Pontins meant all the electricity went out, and my friends and I prayed hard at the top of the slide in the playground. We didn’t want to miss out on the five days of Duggee Dug Dug that lay ahead (I promise that’s the last nineties Christian reference.) The lights came back on, our holiday was saved, and that first experience of the power of God left me asking the question: "What shall I do now?"

When I was a teenager, I’m sure I’m not alone in having had the experience of choosing to give my life to Christ at any given opportunity. Whether it was at a worship night, the young person’s program at a Christian festival, altar call after altar call I would trot up to the front, or stand up, or put my hand up, whatever was required. It always just seemed better to be safe than sorry.

As a teenager, I chose to give my life to Christ at any given opportunity; altar call after altar call I would trot up to the front.

Now, I am ordained, helping to lead a church in East London, where miraculously I am quite often being asked that same question I asked when I was seven. Sometimes, on the best days, someone might say to me: "I’ve just experienced an answer to prayer" or "I just really felt the presence of God in worship today" and then: "What shall I do now?"

Despite years of theological study and training, it’s still a question I’m blown away by. If I’m honest it’s quite tempting in that moment to have a little panic. What should I advise? Join an Alpha course? Become part of a small group? Set up a direct debit to the church?! Really though, I need to remember not to panic. It’s a question that has been asked since the very birth of the Church. At Pentecost, after the crowd have heard Peter’s powerful words, Acts 2 says they were cut to the heart, and asked "What shall we do?" Peter replied in a very clear way: “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:37 ESV.

So what should you do if you want to become a Christian?

Repent. The call to repentance is the part of the Christian faith that we don’t necessarily love to talk about with those who are just becoming part of our communities, but the reality is that faith in Jesus begins with being humble enough to admit that we’ve got it wrong. We’re in a mess, dead in our sin, and we can’t drag ourselves out.

The call to repentance is the part of the Christian faith that we don’t necessarily love to talk about.

Believe. At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he calls people to repent and believe. When we humbly admit that we’re dead because of our sin, we’re invited to believe that Jesus is the only one who has done everything necessary to pull us out of our sin. It’s not that Jesus helps us to go from being bad to being good, but that because of Jesus we go from being dead in our sin, to alive in fullness of life with him.

Be Baptised. My very favourite part of my job is having the privilege to baptise people. Recently, as a result of starting a new baby group, I have had an influx of baptisms of people who have made home in our community and their little ones. Hearing people share their stories of the life they have found in relationship with Christ, being washed in the waters of baptism and welcomed into the family of God, never fails to move me.

Finally, for all of us who are praying for more "what shall I do?" moments in our churches - I pray with you that many will come to repent, believe and be baptised.