Friday, April 21, 2006

Conversion

"I don't use the word 'evangelism' because if you're not a Christian, it sounds like a disease...and if you are a Christian, it is one."
-Rob Bell, "The Revolutionary Voice", YS Convention ATL 2004

I think that we may be "converting" people to the wrong thing. Sometimes I think we may just be giving people a religious excuse to be more selfish than they were before. Is it possible that we are converting people to our ideas about Jesus rather than converting them to Jesus? What if we aren't even doing that much? Are we actually just converting people to an afterlife...for themselves? Most "evangelism" programs I've ever seen seem to be doing exactly that. (convince them how bad Hell is, convince them how bad they are...etc.) I think maybe we're getting it wrong, because people don't seem to be getting "converted" at all. Oh sure, they may start coming to our churches...they may become more "moral" in some sense...but are they really being transformed? Maybe we're showing them the wrong door. What if the afterlife is true, but not the point? What if making it the point has shifted the entire focus of what Christianity, Church, Faith, and "Evangelism" were supposed to be about in the first place.
What if instead of converting people to an afterlife or our particular way of doing church (so that one can go to Heaven), we went about it a different way? What if we actually started caring about people simply because they exist? What if, as our relationships with them grew, they learned our stories of faith and life? What if we then introduced them to the other people in our lives who also have faith and they learned their stories too? Is it possible that people might begin to figure out that all of these stories are a part of a bigger Story? What if they found the experience of us, our stories, and our Story...well, beautiful? Would they think that all of this was "good news"? Over time, might they want to be part of that Story? Might they realize that it really was their Story all along, even though they didn't know it? Would they fall in love with Jesus and want to become like Him? Would they then be ecstatic when they discovered that they got to live with Him forever? What if it was never supposed to be a 5 minute sales pitch? What if it was always supposed to be a Way of life that catches on as it is shared with others?
AE
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6 comments:

WES ELLIS said...

Great stuff! I love that Bell quote! This resonates with a post I wrote a couple months ago:
http://whateverisgood.blogspot.com/2005/12/evangelism_21.html

More Ready Than You realize has been very helpful to me aswell. Great post.

tony said...

great quote - thanks for posting it.

Patrick said...

"Our task is not to convert; our task is to call people into the depths of their own capacity to live, love and be."
-Spong, "Why Christianity must change or die"

Tony Myles said...

It's a sad thing when the "Good News" ends up becoming nothing more than "slightly safer news." When we lose the crazy adventure of following Jesus and trade it in for a nice "you get to go to heaven when you die" mentality we end up creating good church attenders instead of dangerous Christ followers who are fully alive.

Michele said...

I don't get to come here often enough, but as I read this blog today, it just resonated with me and I know I have to come back!

I couldn't agree more with your thoughts about conversion. Is our vision askewed? Are we even hearing the call ourselves so that we might be a conduit for the message of the gospel? If our purpose has been all along to get people to heaven, which is a good intention in itself, I wonder what hope we offer them as we travel this road?

This life, this relationship with Jesus is all about transformation, santification and renewal, there's the hope! Does this mean theirs no hope in resurrection, absolutely not! But, because of His already resurrected body, we have the opportunity now to live out lives of joy, of hope, of peace and of faith. Not a faith of conversion to get to a place later on, but a transformation and relationship built on Jesus and love which plants the seeds of heaven, the seed of faith and the hope of eternity.

I envision this lived out as in comfort, in love, in grace and in mercy and fellowship together. The light will so shine from within that He will be the transforming power and the object of our faith. Not our destination, not our current relationship, but Him alone.

Pooh said...

I think I like everything Rob Bell says.