1 May

19,571 people w/over 400 baptisms during 41 services at 14 [___] churches across 4 states because of 1 resurrection. It’s All About Jesus

4 days of our 35 EasterServices:Jesus saved 4,454 people brought by members!43,028 attended. Baptized 27

31 accepted Jesus Christ as Savior this weekend at our 2 services.  Praise God!

these are real tweets from easter.  impressive numbers.  really.  there’s nothing wrong with lots of people coming to christ (in fact, the early church in acts 2 makes these numbers seem small).

yet something disturbs me about this.

i fear that many christians view conversions and baptisms  like another notch on our spiritual bedpost.  rather than engaging in relationship and open conversation with Others and being comfortable with granting them time and space to allow the holy spirit of God to work in their lives, it seems to me there is a pressure to ‘get them on our side‘ as quickly as possible.  once we ‘convert’ them, we slap each other on the back for a job well done.  less of them.  more of us.

and we go about our mission to ‘expand the kingdom.’

it’s not about how many scalps we have.

it’s not about growth – God’s score card is different than ours.

so what do you think he’s measuring?


11 Responses to “conversion.”

  1. Ryan Copeland May 2, 2012 at 7:31 AM #

    Good questions. My question would be this: How many of those conversions are true conversions? The only way we can know that someone is a true Christ follower is by the fruit they produce. I am reminded of the parable of the sower, and sadly, would say that most of these conversions are like the seed that lands on the rocks. They respond quickly and energetically, but the root does not go deep and their faith withers. This is because we have reduced the gospel to a ‘say a prayer and go to heaven’ marketing campaign. Churches see big numbers but little change. We need to focus more on quality, not quantity when it comes to sharing the gospel. Another thing Churches(especially pastors) need to be careful about is keeping the focus on Christ and not getting puffed up when many people are responding to the alter call. God is the only one that can change people’s hearts. Paul reminds us this in 1 Cor. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

    On a side note, I’m glad to hear that your church (were those tweets from your church?) saw such a response. My church here in Novi, MI didn’t even preach the resurrection on Easter! They hijacked the service (with record numbers of visitors) to interview a married couple on a book they wrote about ‘the color of rain’. Can anyone say Apostasy?

    God bless, I love reading your thoughts and getting insight into your thinking.

    • the WayWard follower May 2, 2012 at 8:14 AM #

      thanks for reading, ryan. no, those tweets weren’t from my church (thank goodness! i’d be going crazy if we had 35 weekend services – wow!).

      really liked your statement :: ‘we have reduced the gospel to a ‘say a prayer and go to heaven’ marketing campaign.’ well said.

  2. Jim Fisher May 2, 2012 at 7:55 AM #

    I always get a kick out of some of the Great Commission folks who stop one verse short of the end of Matthew — so they don’t have to do the work. We need to continue to walk with new believers with the same spirit as the promise which closes Matthew. Of course, that’s hard. That would take humility and sacrifice … and commitment. Heavens!

    • the WayWard follower May 2, 2012 at 8:16 AM #

      i think the power of the gospel comes alive when we’re walking alongside one another, saints and sinners, doing life together. there is supernatural power in community and relationship.

  3. Roddy Gillies May 2, 2012 at 8:28 AM #

    Surely our job is to preach the gospel with a degree of urgency? There can be no discipleship without first salvation so there is a case to say numbers are important. You can’t follow up what has not yet been accounted for. Not all who glory in numerous salvations would be guilty of ‘notching their bedpost’. I would be more concerned about those who have nothing to ‘notch’ In this generation I think time is of the essence. I would relish the possibility to boast (in Him) of that many salvations! If the fields are White unto harvest do we wait until the harvest feels like coming into the storehouse or do we set forth the labourers to bring it in? Just a thought Mike.

    • the WayWard follower May 2, 2012 at 8:45 AM #

      you raise an important question. i am convinced we must learn to navigate the tension that exists between granting time and space for God’s spirit to do his work, and our responsibility to step into difficult conversations with people that are open to receive our words.

      we are called to transform our communities and our world – and the best way to change lives is through an encounter with jesus christ. repentance matters. conversion matters. lifechange matters.

      yet it’s not an either/or. we must be careful not to befriend others with the mindset that we’re out to ‘change’ or ‘convert them.’ we are called to walk alongside and love them – even if they don’t ever change.

  4. Roddy Gillies May 3, 2012 at 4:36 AM #

    I agree with the sentiment of walking alongside people whether they change or not, but and it’s a big but, who are we to judge when WE think they are ready to hear the gospel. Our first and most important call is to preach the gospel not try and work out when a heart is ready to receive. That job belongs to the Holy Spirit. I am all for friendship and friendship evangelism but there are inherent dangers in playing the waiting game. I’m not sure the Apostle Paul would agree with ‘waiting for the right moment’ mentality. The enemy of our faith has an uncanny ability to disguise the ‘right moment’ and in such procrastination people can be lost for eternity.

    • Ryan Copeland May 3, 2012 at 7:31 AM #

      I think the gospel is most effective when we are seen living it out. Every day, every minute every word should be glorifying God and edifying others. I admit, this is a big task and I fail over and over, but when people do see your life glorifying Christ, they will ask why you are like you are. It’s pretty easy to tell someone that they need Jesus in their life so they won’t go to hell (even though that is NOT the gospel), but if they don’t see any difference between you and them, than why should they change, or want to change? Faith without works is dead. Faith without fruit is dead, and the world sees right through it. Mike is right, we need to come alongside others, meet them where they’re at and walk with them, not pushing them or coaxing them to change, but showing them how Christ has changed us. That, I believe, is the most effective witness to Christ.

  5. blocspot May 3, 2012 at 6:08 AM #

    I love Ryan’s statement – “we have reduced the gospel to a ‘say a prayer and go to heaven’ marketing campaign.” This kind of salvation touting has saturated the church’s practices.

    When does salvation begin? Is it a punctiliar moment or a process? It’s so evident to me as my primary ministry is with children and young people who are being discipled ‘in the way of Jesus’. I’m not looking for conversion, but to nurture their ongoing journey with Jesus as they embrace and trust their faith in Him more, that they will continue to seek for themselves to walk after Him with a surrendered heart of devotion from which good works will flow and God’s kingdom will grow. The call of discipleship is to follow Jesus – that’s God’s will for our lives. Many seek to follow other ways and discard the gift of faith which is effective for salvation. It’s in their lostness that we can walk with them, loving them and living the gospel along side them. All the greater the celebration when we get to share in their turning to God and receiving new life in Him. It’s from their lostness that they truly find salvation. And dare I say some who thought they were saved have discovered salvation more than once! Even when folk are following Him, there is a deep need to be walking the journey together – to continually discover the depth of God’s reconciling, redeeming, accomplishing, justifying and sanctifying work.

    Also, I believe the Holy Spirit is at work in people’s lives to bear ‘fruit’ which is God honouring and kingdom building. But this may not necessarily be only of those who are knowing kingdom builders. In their openness and response to the Spirit’s prompting they are being drawn to join in God’s transforming purposes. Consider the self-giving and selfless acts of one person on belhalf of another, or acts of servanthood that demonstrate the kingdom. The call is to follow Jesus, to embrace the way of life that we are purposed for – total self-giving, selfless, sacrifical, surrendered life in relationship with God, lived out with others. I see people all around me who are being discipled in the footsteps of Jesus, even before they have any awareness of God’s atoning work through Christ’s life, death and resurrection. There is a most definate seeking and hungering after God – a deep calling to deep. Can we say they are in some way being saved or being drawn towards salvation? Are they moving towards a ‘point of conversion’ or are they ‘journeying in salvation’? We talk about these terms: ‘we are saved’, ‘we are being saved’, ‘we will be saved’ but I wonder if we truly get the depth of this terminology.

    The passages of Matthew 25 are filled with escatological imagery that point to those who are in and those who are not. Consider the seperation of the sheep and the goats. I don’t think saying the prayer will guarantee one to be a sheep. But there will be many sheep who have no story of conversion, only the heart attitude of a true disciple of the living word.

    Grace and peace my friends

    • the WayWard follower May 3, 2012 at 11:22 PM #

      excellent. thank you so much for sharing, lorraine. hope all is well across the pond.

  6. Roddy Gillies May 4, 2012 at 2:24 AM #

    I know we can banter all day about words and phrases and the meaning or implied meaning, but I still believe as life begins at conception not birth then the Christian life begins when we say YES to Jesus not in the journeying toward Him or with Him. There can be no discipleship without relationship no matter what you call it. Salvation is a decision not a journey in that sense. Only our spirit is born again and I believe that happens as an act not a process. The rest of life is about our walk with Jesus. We are transformed on an ongoing basis by the renewing of our mind, our spirit has already been transformed on salvation, being saved, saying yes to Jesus or whatever terminology we use. I have many friends who have not yet made a commitment and I still love them and do life with them but the bottom line is they still need to hear the gospel through words or lifestyle – they still need saved!

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