Conversations > Conversions
Christians often seem to focus solely on converting people to Christianity.
Churches host large events or camps, an emotional experience is created, an altar call is given, and people are encouraged to stick their hands in the air or walk to the front if they want to commit their lives to Christ. Someone then counts the number of hands and the church/pastor brags about how many people were "born again" because of their work.
I have been to so many youth camps and worship evenings where hundreds of people have declared their newfound commitment to Christ. I am sure that many of those people took their promise seriously (In fact, this was the way that I first came to faith in Christ), but too often I would see those same people walking away from the Church a week, month or year later.
Before I sound like I am generalising, let me acknowledge that there are people doing the hard work of following up with these new converts in helpful ways after events such as these, but all too often these new believers are forgotten about after the initial excitement wears off.
Evangelism is important. We should do our best to help others experience God's love and help them understand how Christ can transform their lives. But personally, I don't think that coercing people to convert to our way of thinking with fancy tactics is the best solution - particularly to the current and future generations. Young people today are not interested in being marketed the gospel like it is some cheap product being sold on Facebook Marketplace.
So what is the solution? As the title suggests, I believe that conversations are more important than conversions. If we make authentic conversations and establishing relationships our goal, conversions will happen naturally.
If we are willing to tell our stories of Jesus to people, they will be more inclined to commit to Christ for the long haul. And if they don't, then that is also okay. Everyone is on their own journey. At least this way, we will make some friends along the way and we can reveal Christ's love to them in our interactions with them.
I think the reason why many churches and pastors opt for the one-time event approach rather than the conversational approach is that it requires less work. Just plan one big, exciting event, create an emotional experience, jot down the number of new converts and you have done your job.
The conversational approach is often hard work. It takes time. Often, difficult questions and doubts have to be dealt with. But I believe that through these committed conversations, authentic relationship is experienced and true disciples are formed.
Is this not the approach that Jesus took when creating disciples?
Instead of counting conversions, let's start counting our conversations!
And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.- Luke 24:15 (NIV)