Let’s face it – we care about numbers. When we first walk into a new room – we scan and take a quick inventory – how many people are here, and do I know any of them? We think about how many people are in line ahead of us, how much money is in our wallets, and how much time we have left until work is over. Even at church, where we seek to focus on Christ, we can’t help but look and see how many are in the room. We care about numbers. That’s OK – God cares about numbers, too – there is even a book called “Numbers”. For God, those numbers are people – and He loves each and every one.
I am wondering if perhaps we need to be counting differently. For a long time we have counted “conversions” – how many people have made “decisions” for Christ or been baptized. Perhaps we should be counting conversations more than conversions. Conversion is much more than a decision (though decisions are involved). Conversion is the process of turning to Jesus – every part of life. The first choice to surrender to Jesus will not be the last – there is more of the process to happen. We need to be open to having conversations, prayers, Bible studies, times to reflect and grow, and more. We need to be ready to have people challenge us and help us grow, and we need to be able to challenge others in love.
For so long we have seen “evangelism” as a line – people are “lost” on one side, and people are “saved” on the other. In the middle is the day a person asks Jesus into their heart. We probably need to start thinking of different images. First – the process of coming to Jesus is not a straight line – more like the messy drawing of a 1st grader who doesn’t know how to color in the lines. Second, the image is more about the journey of faith, with markers put in the road where people clearly surrendered and made a decision for Jesus. Peter made at least 5 clear decisions about Jesus, and each one grew him closer to Jesus and changed his effectiveness to serve with the Lord. Peter changed and grew through hard conversations with Jesus, and with strangers, and in preaching, and even with Paul. Peter stopped being “lost” the day he started walking with Jesus – but he still had a lot of growing to do. We all need some more conversations in our lives.
We can start seeing those outside of church as friends, and start the honest conversations. We can pray together, serve together, and talk about God. We can also talk about sports, games, shopping, TV shows, movies, music, and more. God is part of all our lives – so we can talk about all of life. The Lord is a great conversationalist – and we can be too. I will be the first to admit I need to be a better listener; the more I have learned to listen, the better I have been able to share Jesus and His love with others. Sharing our faith is not just words, but care, prayer, laughter, Jesus, crying together, and great conversations.
We care about numbers. Let’s grow to care about each person. Let’s start counting conversations. God is talking to people all over the world, every single day. God is lavishing His love on every person alive. Let’s join in the conversation! Let’s make the time to slow down, give a smile, listen, and truly be friends with people in our lives. Have great conversations – and watch God change you as He changes others through you.