Confessions of a Bad Evangelist
I have to come clean and admit that I haven’t ushered masses of people into Christendom. I assumed that I’m just not gifted in that way (Whew! That lets me off the hook!).
But I am learning that while the Gospel hasn’t changed, people and the way they come to faith in God have. In their book I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus, Don Everts and Doug Schaupp explore why the traditional method for evangelism—find a non-Christian, explain the gospel, and invite them to pray with you to receive Jesus—just doesn’t seem to work anymore.
Drawing upon interviews with about 2,000 new believers, the authors identified a common pathway that people seem to take in finding God. As a result of understanding the five distinct seasons of growth, or “thresholds,” we can be much more effective in helping people along their own journey toward finding peace with God.
The five thresholds the authors describe are:
1. Trusting a Christian—Many people may have been hurt by a Christian or are just cynical.
2. Becoming Curious—Once they feel safe around Christians, they may start to become curious about Jesus.
3. Opening Up To Change—This is a scary stage for many people. It’s one thing to be curious and even believe things, but another thing to be willing to change.
4. Seeking After God—At this stage, a person needs to actively seek resolution and answers.
5. Entering the Kingdom—This is the point where the people interviewed said that they went “from flirting with commitment to where they looked Jesus in the face and said, ‘I do.’”
By understanding better exactly where our friends, co-workers and family members are on the pathway to faith, we can be much more helpful in meeting their needs. Being more loving and interested in another person's story than in my own is something that I can actually do!