Becoming a Christian is not an “on/off” proposition.
I recently taught a workshop on door-to-door evangelism where people wanted to know how to turn on that switch to help a person become a Christian after a 3-minute memorized presentation.
Evangelism doesn’t work that way.
Most people don’t wake up one morning and decide to become a Christian without prior reflection, consideration, or thinking.
Christian conversion is the culmination of a journey.
Different ways to describe the spiritual journey
In the last few years, I’ve seen many different authors describe the spiritual journey.
Gary Rohrmayer’s book (Spiritual Conversations) maps out a spiritual journey to Christ in descriptive phrases
- Actively Seeking
Everts and Schaupp (I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus) map out the spiritual journey in phases
- Distrust to trust – trusting a Christian
- Complacent to Curious – the shift of spiritual thirst.
- Closed to change to open to change – hardest threshold to cross (personal life)
- From Meandering to Seeking.
- The actual conversion to the Kingdom of God (surrender).
They also pick up the biblical image of planting from Mark 4:26-29:
- Sowing the seed into the soil (A farmer sows the seed. . . )
- The mysterious process of growth (The seed sprouts and grows . . )
- Growth comes through visible stages (First the stalk, then the head . . .)
- The harvest (. . . . and when it’s ripe, he puts the sickle to it).
Kevin Harney uses this same metaphor as the basis of his book: Organic Outreach for Ordinary People: Sharing Good News Naturally.
The journey is illustrated by the funny stories in Strobel and Mittleburg (The Unexpected Adventure: Taking Everyday Risks to Talk with People about Jesus) share lots of stories in a daily reading format that demonstrate this principle.
Ed Stetzer’s Diagram of the Journey
In Gary’s Rohrmayer’s book, Ed Stetzer has a chart that phrases the journey in terms of
- questions being answered or
- misconceptions of God being cleared up.
Using the Engle Scale as a foundation, he adds a few key elements to describe the journey.
A different version of the chart is here:
Stetzer writes in the introduction to Gary’s book:
Although I believe conversion is a point in time experience, getting to that point and beyond is a step by step process. Apparent exceptions to the rule are seldom actual exceptions. People, conversations, and experiences are used by God to move a person to a defining moment with Christ.
Key truths must be processed about God, Jesus, the Gospel, personal need, and conversion during the journey. Obstacles to conversion are either misunderstanding or rejection of these key truths.
The activity of God along the way moves people through the key truths. [Emphasis mine] . . .
The journey will not be the same for any individual, people group, worldview, or culture. For each individual, the misconceptions and reasons for rejecting the gospel may change, but each person must make the journey along the center column.
By connecting people in community where they can hear and consider truths about Christ, they are more likely to make the journey of connecting with Christ.
Visual Illustrations of the Journey:
1. The Movie: Flywheel
If you haven’t seen it yet, consider the movie Flywheel:
The story follows the awakening faith of the central character, a used car salesman.
Along the way, you see moments that when tied together cause a crisis of faith, which leads the man to offer himself to the Lord.
2. My Macaroni Video
In the Dunamis Evangelism Course and in the Fear Free Evangelism seminar (live), I illustrate the story with a chain of plastic macaroni.
Your conversation, God’s self revelation, a sermon may be just one link in the chain, one step in that process.
- Links in the Chain Video (Mister, I need God!)
- Links in the Chain of Conversion (how comments from slave girl led to a miracle).
The more I listen to stories of conversions and faith awakenings, the more I am convinced that we need to help people to see the process of evangelism from the beginning of the seeking journey.
Your Own Conversion Journey
Think about your own conversion journey. Or if you don’t have a season in time where you know you became a Christian, think about the early influences upon your life that shaped your faith.
- How many individual conversations about God did you have?
- How many different individuals helped you talk about your faith while exploring Christianity?
- How many different sermons did you hear?
- Where there songs, art, poetry, or music that moved you to explore Christianity more?
- Did you have some late nights pondering life issues such as is there life after death, how do you find meaning, how can you ?
- How many times did you look at the beauty of nature and wonder about the nature of God?
Better Evangelistic Conversations
Spiritual conversation is an art that you can learn. Over the years, I have learned to have more effective spiritual conversations with serious people searching for “something.”
I have learned and applied these four principles with great effectiveness in helping people discover Jesus.
- To watch for the nudge of the Holy Spirit
- To observe spiritual thirst
- To know where I am in their journey
- To help people take the next steps in their journey to Jesus.
You can learn these same principles and leave the formulas behind.
This Streaming or DVD set, Effective Conversations, is based on the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch.
This Dvd set can help you have more effective conversations with people when you discern where they are in their spiritual journey. Knowing where they are can help relieve the pressure of any conversation about Christ. Click the banner to read more.