In their excellent little book, I Once Was Lost, Doug Schaupp and Don Everts talk about the stages or “thresholds” that people go through on the road from unbelief to belief.
This is important for Christians as we share the faith with others. Many secular persons have a lengthy process in front of them to find Jesus. The thresholds represent five helpful mile markers along the route.
- The first threshold is to trust a Christian. Most people come to faith through a relationship with a believer.
You as the believer establish a friendship with a person who doesn’t know Jesus. Conversation tends to stay on the surface.
- The second threshold is becoming curious. Your friend shows she’s curious about the larger questions of life, perhaps even curious about your faith.
In the second threshold, conversation is getting deeper. Values, hopes for a happy life, and opinions about religion start to emerge and are put on the table.
- The third threshold is called “open to change.” The Holy Spirit has brought your friend to a point of vulnerability. He’s realizing the inadequacy of his current way of life. He wonders if, perhaps, there is a better way . . .
Now the conversation turns often to spiritual matters. You sense an openness in your friend, yet, he’s still not a true seeker of Jesus.
- The fourth threshold is becoming an active seeker. Curiosity bears fruit. “Open to change” morphs forward into being open to Jesus. At this point your friend just needs to study and learn and ponder the gospel.
Conversation is about the Bible and the Christian life, the joy of serving God, the relief of having one’s sins forgiven.
- The fifth threshold is crossing the line of faith. Your friend has gone from unbelief to belief, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. It was a gradual process . . . time to rejoice.
What threshold are your friends in?
Or if you’re not yet a believer in Jesus, what threshold are you in (if any)?