In a previous post, we discussed why the process of coming to faith often looks like a process. You can read it here. In this post, we take a look at the path that process often follows. Perhaps you will see your own story here.
As with the prior post, I’m drawing this material from Tim Keller’s book, Serving a Movement: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City.
According to Tim Keller, the process of coming to faith often looks something like this:
1. Awareness:“I see it.”
People begin to clear the ground of stereotypes and learn to distinguish the gospel from legalism or liberalism, the core from the peripheral. They make mini-decisions like these:
“She’s religious but surprisingly intelligent and open-minded.”
“A lot of things the Bible says really fit me.”
“I see the difference between Christianity and just being moral.”
2. Relevance:“I need it.”
They begin to see the slavery of both religion and irreligion and are shown the transforming power of how the gospel works. Examples of mini-decisions here are as follows:
“An awful lot of very normal people really like this church!”
“It would really help if I could believe like she does.”
“Jesus seems to be the key. I wonder who he was.”
3. Credibility:“I need it because it’s true.”
This is a reversal of the modern view that states, “It’s true if I need it.” If people fail to see the reasonableness of the gospel, they will lack the endurance to persevere when their faith is challenged. Examples of mini-decisions include thoughts like these:
“You can’t use science to disprove the supernatural.”
“There really were eyewitnesses to the resurrection.”
“I see now why Jesus had to die — it is the only way.”
4. Trial:“I see what it would be like.”
They are involved in some form of group life, in some type of service ministry, and are effectively trying Christianity on, often talking like a Christian — even defending the faith at times.
5. Commitment:“I take it.”
This may be the point of genuine conversion, or sometimes a person will realize that conversion has already happened, and they just didn’t grasp it at the time. Examples of mini-decisions include these:
“I am a sinner.”
“I need a Savior. I will believe in Jesus and live for him.”
“Though there are a lot of costs, I really must do what Jesus says.”
6. Reinforcement:“Now I get it.”
Typically, this is the place where the penny drops and the gospel becomes even clearer and more real. For this dynamic to occur, at least three factors must be in place: interaction with believers with relational integrity, pastoral support, and safe venues.
Evangelism is truth-telling—giving a reason for the hope that is in us. And it is a process God is pleased to use us in, even though he clearly does not need to. Our involvement in helping others come to faith is part of his sanctifying, humbling work in us. It is one way he shapes our hearts to keep the great commands to love God and others—to love by laying our lives down for the sake of others. There is no greater love than this. May the Lord use us in the process of calling people to himself, and may he deepen our love for others as he does.