My conversion took place some 52 years ago and occurred over a relatively short period of time – about six months. It began with my dating a girl that demanded I attend church with her. Then I connected with the pastor because we both played golf, and the rest is history. I would characterize my conversion as an event more than a process. Yes, it began with a relationship but it progressed very rapidly to my believing.
Today, it seems as if conversion is more of a process than an event – a gradual movement from darkness to light that takes far more time than what was normally the case fifty years ago.
I would characterize today’s process this way –
Most non-Christians today are more skeptical toward religion than in my day so to reach them requires more time spent in developing legitimate relationships before entering any serious conversation. My relationship with the pastor who led me to Christ was less than a couple of months. That is short by today’s standards.
The other thing that differs about my conversion and what I see today is that I believed before I belonged whereas most people today have to belong before they believe. Their skepticism is so deep they must actually experience the Christian community before trusting it enough to become part of it. This takes time and is more than a mere relationship. It takes seeing Christ in action in the lives of real people.
This is why I refer to the local church as a spiritual incubator. The local church must not only be warm and welcoming, it must also be a place where love and acceptance ooze out of the people’s pores. People must first feel as if they belong, as if they are one of the group, before taking the next step – believing.
This is why I teach that small groups that raise up leaders and multiply are essential to the life of a thriving church. It is much harder to feel as if one belongs by just sitting in a large worship service than it is by being part of a small group.
So what do you have in place to not only welcome people but also invite them into your spiritual kitchen?
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