In today's postmodern culture, people come to Jesus in a wide variety of ways. If conversion ever was a mechanical, linear process, it is so no longer. Yet neither is it a nebulous spiritual wandering that never culminates in decision and commitment.
Don Everts and Doug Schaupp have listened to the stories of two thousand postmodern people who have come to follow Jesus. While their stories are very different, certain common themes emerge. Postmodern evangelism may be a mysterious and organic process, but it also goes through common and discernible phases, as people cross thresholds from distrust to trust, from complacency to curiosity and from meandering to seeking.
The authors describe the factors that influence how people change their perspectives and become open to the gospel. They provide practical tools for helping people enter the kingdom, and guidelines for how new believers can live out their Christian faith.
Introduction: Meet the Authors (All 2000 of Them!)
The Postmodern Path to Faith
Threshold One: Trusting a Christian
Threshold Two: Becoming Curious
Threshold Three: Opening Up to Change
Threshold Four: Seeking After God
Threshold Five: Entering the Kingdom
Beyond the Thresholds: Living in the Kingdom
Conclusion: Servant Evangelism
(From ?) The Postmodern Path to Faith
I can remember that afternoon as if it were yesterday. I (Doug) was standing out in the middle of the green grass of the quad on campus, singing as loudly as I could. Twenty of my Christian friends and I were holding guitars and singing to ?witness? to the students who lounged nearby on the sunny patches of grass in the middle of the Cal Berkeley campus. We wanted to show our fellow students our authentic joy and love for Jesus. What better way to witness than with bold worship?
And man, did we grow that day! It was a profound faith experience for all of us who were willing to be ?fools for Christ.? We stood publicly and shamelessly for the gospel. Our faith was tested and affirmed. But as for those who were trying to catch some rays on the lawn ? well, no one was curious about issues of faith after our public spectacle. Instead of being attractive or intriguing witnesses for Christ, we were just one more random thing in their day, it seemed.
Our bold worship had grown our faith, but it made for weak evangelism. Our fatal flaw? We came up with our evangelistic strategy while we were alone in a room together with a bunch of Christians. Not once in our brainstorming and planning did we ask where our non-Christian fellow students were coming from. Not once did we try to find out what they might need to take a step toward Jesus. We were mostly coming up with something we wanted to do, not something that would be actually helpful to those unsuspecting sunbathers in the quad. I?ll never forget that afternoon.
Over the past twenty years, we have had many such awkward moments as we slowly learned, helter-skelter, to walk the path of faith with our skeptical and cynical friends. Since that worship-on-the-grass event, God has granted us the humbling privilege of walking the journey of faith with more than two thousand people who were once lost but now are followers of Jesus.
Seeing all these conversions is exhilarating and humbling, because we clearly remember all the inglorious (and even embarrassing) moments that were part of the learning journey. But seeing all these folks coming to faith in Jesus has done something else to us as well: it has taught us about conversion.
Somewhere along the line we started asking the questions we never asked before going on the quad that afternoon: What is it like for those who are lost to take steps toward Jesus? And how can we truly be helpful to them on that journey?
There are two foundational truths about conversion that all these new believers have taught us over the years, two foundational truths about what it?s like to become a Christian in this postmodern age.
The first lesson they have taught us about the path to faith is that it is, in the end, mysterious.
Again and again we found ourselves marvelling at transformations that we never would have anticipated and shaking our heads in frustration at those who seemed near to faith but never got there. The gospel seeds that had been planted in some grew in spite of the weakness of our efforts. Other seeds that we tended with great care never took root.
Ultimately, the postmodern path to faith is a mystery. It reminds us of the truth of Jesus? parable in Mark 4:26-27: ?This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.? ?
The second lesson this group of new believers has shown us is that the postmodern path to faith is organic.
As we sat and listened to their stories we were struck immediately by the mystery but also by the similar seasons of growth that each of them went through.
Five distinct seasons, in fact. These were what we came to call ?the five thresholds.? While this second lesson surprised us, we have found it to be an equally important lesson to learn. ?