Unripe harvests occur when churches fail to properly prepare candidates for baptism. They are baptized without fully knowing or accepting the fundamental teachings of the Bible, or without making decisions to follow Christ in practical areas of their lives. Unripe harvests may be due to gospel workers sensing pressure to baptize higher numbers of people, or shrinking from the task of faithfully instructing new converts in practical areas. The former stems from an attempt to avoid the shame of not producing, while the latter has its origin in fear.
Although the number of baptisms rises with these methods, new converts come out of the baptismal tank and just keep walking right out the back door of the church. Those who do not fully know or are not wholeheartedly willing to follow the truth often leave the tenets of the faith as well as the Originator of these truths. Should they stay, they can also become the cause of various problems within the church. Thus, our discipleship process both before and after baptism needs improving.
We must ensure that everyone seeking baptism and entering a discipleship walk with Christ has full knowledge of what they are getting themselves into. This requires a great one-on-one bond with a mentor to discuss, pray, and work through both doctrinal dissonance from Scripture as well as any other spiritual dissension.
After the joy of the harvest, we must not relax our disciple-making efforts as well. Jesus called us to make disciples, not members of the church. To do so requires that we preserve the harvest through intentional and systematic discipleship training after baptism—the same care, investment, and time spent before the baptism! In order for the disciple-making process to be a disciple-making cycle, we must nurture new church members and train them to engage in making other disciples. The consumer must become a producer. The receiver must become a giver. The one caught by the gospel net must become a fisher of men and women.