Over breakfast with some friends who are church planters and in the emerging conversation this week, this question came up: in this new paradigm with an emphasis on belonging before believing and loving and accepting everyone, how do we win people to Christ? In other words, how do we know who is a Christ follower and who isn't.
Someone said that we should have more of an emphasis on process than a one time decision. And many of them no longer felt comfortable giving altar calls. But the majority of my friends felt like we must have some way of knowing, as ministry leaders, when someone is a Christ follower. How would you respond?
So I have been thinking about this during the past week. Brian McLaren says something of great value in his new book A Generous Orthodoxy. The reason the need for a personal saviour theology came into play in America is b/c of our heritage. So much Christian faith was wrapped up in the forming of our nation that people just assumed they would make it into heaven if they were American. Thus the need for personal responsibility.
I have also been thinking about a person's relationship with God compared to two people falling in love. Let's assume 2 people meet, form a friendship, eventually start dating, fall in love and then get married. At which moment in time did they fall in love--can it be pinpointed down to an exact science? Perhaps this is a better way of thinking of evangelism and discipleship. Do we really need to know an exact moment in time when a person decides to follow Christ? Maybe they don't even know exactly when they chose to believe, they just realize one day that hey, I believe.