Evangelism – Who Do We Let In The Christian Club?

admin —  October 18, 2012 — 5 Comments



“We must invite others to venture into a personal relationship with Jesus of Nazareth, no matter how tentative, no matter if all the options are on the table, and trust the Spirit to take it from there.”

- Leonard Sweet, So Beautiful



Evangelical Christian culture is focused on sealing the deal with conversions. But what is a conversion? What does that mean? The standard answer would be to raise your hand and repeat a prayer: “Jesus is my savior, he died for my sins.” There’s really not much in the sinner’s prayer beyond that.

Immediately, though – after a round of applause – the new “Christian” is told there’s a whole list of doctrine that she now has to ascribe to. A list of things to believe.

As might be expected, there’s often pushback on many of the new beliefs that must be adhered to. Rules that dictate our behavior, sex lives, spending, belief systems, etc. There’s a sense that you’re either all in … or you’re out. Either you agree with us on everything, or you’re not a Christian.

If you consider yourself a follower of Christ, think of how that process happened. Did you immediately know everything that entailed? Did you agree with all that you were told 100%? I certainly didn’t.

I appreciate the sentiment that Len Sweet expresses here. Invite other people to know Jesus the Messiah. If they’re unsure, if they still hold on to other beliefs (crystals, universalism, the American Dream) – don’t shun them. Continue to invite them. Either they’ll mature in their faith, or they’ll self-select out. That work of sanctification, of conforming people into the likeness of Christ, is not our work. It’s God’s work.

We don’t convert, and we don’t sanctify. Instead, our role is to invite – and trust that He who began a good work will bring it through to completion.


Thoughts? We might say that a pastor’s role is to be a gatekeeper, and  that is definitely true. Keep the wolves out. But I’m thinking more about us giving up too easily on people who aren’t as far along their walk as we are.




5 responses to Evangelism – Who Do We Let In The Christian Club?

  1. Thank you for sharing. God used so many people, for me to be where I am right now. He gave them love, patience and guidance. This is what we should be seeking after, and I believe God will use us for His glory. :)

  2. Good post. I happen to agree with this sentiment, even with my specific flavor of Christianity entailing a lot more process.

    I think Christianity in general is an “all or nothing” system; we are told in the bible very specifically what happens to the “luke-warm.” But we are also (and more frequently, I think) told that coming to Christ is a process of “line upon line, precept upon precept.”

    We are held accountable for the “lines” and “precepts” we learn, and we must hold to those – it really is “all or nothing.”

    But that was not where we started. What many might be missing (and this is something I am still trying to work on) when relating to the newly converted is exactly how many of those lines and precepts we have learned since our conversion. It’s probably a lot more than we realize.

  3. You stated it simply but beautifully. I may never be rid of all of my doubts. Complete acceptance of beliefs is not going to come by reason argument from another person. Thank you for posting these thoughts.

  4. @Jason: Would you mind specifying your stream of Christianity? I think it may be beneficial for all of us :)

    In this specific case, I’m thinking that the use of “line upon line, precept upon precept” in 2 Nephi 28:30 (http://bit.ly/RX0vVl) may be considerably different from Isaiah 28:10,13 (http://bg4.me/RX0y3t).

    I agree that Christianity is an “all or nothing” system, but it seems to me that it comes down to whether you ultimately put your trust in Christ or not. At your core, where does your allegiance lie? Is it to God, or to something else. Really, I’d even say “someone else,” since the very first sin was to put ourselves in God’s place, and everything after pretty much revolves around that.

    The deepening understanding of the Christian is the renewing of his mind, the conforming to Christ. It is a blessing, and is reflective of our restored relationship with God, but I don’t think there is a knowledge test at the end of class (life).

    I think of the relationship between myself and my father. Knowledge about my father may be evidence of my love for him, but our relationship is built on a much more fundamental love, not on my knowledge of him. If I knew all about him, but didn’t love him, there would be no relationship. And in the same way, if I loved him, but only knew a little, our relationship wouldn’t be severed because of it.

  5. We suffer from an overly rationalist understanding of what it means to have “faith.” We tend to substitute position-taking for real discipleship. The word doxa has two meanings: “opinion” to the Greek philosophers and “glory” to the writers of the Septuagint. When orthodoxy means “right opinion,” we are following Aristotle; when orthodoxy means “right glory” (or perhaps “right worship”), we are talking about Christian orthodoxy. Bad doctrine is bad insofar as it inhibits the fullness of our worship, but the problem has to do with whether we achieve intimacy with Christ not whether we agree with all the right truths about Him. Agreeing with the right truths is a means to the end of authentic worship.

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