SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & 4 waypoints I use to explain salvation & conversion

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/22/18.

As my clients, colleagues and mentees know … I believe every person should be ready to explain the Good News at any time. I’ve created a short version based upon the most popular presentations (such as the Romans Road, the Four Spiritual Laws and the Four Steps to Peace with God). The 4 Waypoint presentation is a work in progress, but here it is:

(intro.) Think of life as a journey, it’s easy to do. You are going from Point A to Point B, etc. These are called “waypoints.” Here are the 4 waypoints God wants you to encounter.

1. God loves you & wants to give you eternal life.

(John 3:16) For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. But our poor choices have wrecked our relationship with Him and doomed us.

(Romans 3:23) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. Only Jesus can get us back in a right relationship w/ God.

(Romans 5:8) But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

(John 14:6) I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

4. Accept His forgiveness & start living a full and eternal life.

(Acts 16:31) Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.

(John 10:10) I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

For other Good News presentation tools: CLICK HERE.

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018

SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION & Helping others navigate the evangelism journey #BiblicalLeadership

by Bob Whitesel DMin, PhD, 3/18/18.

…To describe evangelism as a journey reminds us that outreach is a bridge-building process, requiring time, patience, mapping and perseverance.

Bridge building requires a plan

A helpful metaphor for depicting this planned and purposeful process is that such bridge building can be thought of as a journey. A journey reminds us that outreach is a bridge-building process requiring time, patience, mapping and perseverance.

Sociologists James Engle and Wilbert Norton depicted this journey as a process of deepening communication. They noted that it took place over time with a variety of adaptations, stating “Jesus and His followers … always began with a keen understanding of the audience and then adapted the message to the other person without compromising God’s Word. The pattern they followed is as pertinent today as was two thousand years ago”[i]

Richard Peace, professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation at Fuller Seminary, looked carefully at the 12 disciples in the New Testament and concluded that a step-by-step process unfolds through which the disciples eventually have a transforming experience.[ii] Peace calls this “process evangelism,” summing up,

“The Twelve came to faith over time via a series of incidents and encounters with, and experiences of, Jesus. Each such event assisted them to move from their initial assumptions about Jesus to a radically new understanding of who he actually was. In his Gospel, Mark invites his readers to make this same pilgrimage of discovery.”[iii]

Esther de Wall, in The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination notes that the Christian life has always been viewed as a journey, stating,

“Life seen as a journey, an ascent, a pilgrimage, a road, is an idea as old as man himself. One of the earliest titles for Christians at the time of the Acts was “the people of the way’. We see the individual Christian as a pilgrim on earth having here no abiding city; we speak of the Church, particularly since Vatican II, as a pilgrim church. But we cannot think of life as a journey without accepting that is must involve change and growth.”[iv]

Lesslie Newbigin sums this up nicely, saying that “as a human race we are on a journey and we need to know the road. It is not true that all roads lead to the top of the same mountain. There are roads which lead over the precipice. In Christ, we have been shown the road … God has given us the route we must follow and the goal to which we must press forward.”[v] Thus, the journey metaphor accommodates the imagery of planned, deliberate and unfolding bridge-building across cultural chasms…

Read more at … https://www.biblicalleadership.com/blogs/helping-others-navigate-the-evangelism-journey/

Footnotes:

[i] James F. Engel and Wilbert Norton, What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1975), 35.

[ii] Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999). Peace offers a helpful examination of Mark’s account of the 12 disciples and their conversionary experiences. Peace argues that they were not converted while traveling with Jesus as members of his apostolic band, but that Mark’s Gospel is organized in part to underscore that “were brought step-by-step to the experience of repentance and faith,” 12.

[iii] Ibid. 309.

[iv] Esther de Waal, Seeking God, 69.

[v] Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1989), 183.

CONVERSION & Why for Snyder, Stott, de Wall, McLaren, Newbigin, etc. it is metaphors that best capture the sense of a transformative journey & the word: evangelism

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 2010.

“Bridge Building Requires a Plan”

A helpful metaphor toward depicting this planned and purposeful process, is that such bridge building can be thought of as a journey. A journey reminds us that outreach is a bridge-building process, requiring time, patience, mapping and perseverance.

Sociologists James Engle and Wilbert Norton depicted this journey as a processes of deepening communication. They noted that it took place over time with a variety of adaptations, stating “Jesus and His followers … always began with a keen understand of the audience and then adapted the message to the other person without compromising God’s Word. The pattern they followed is as pertinent today as was two thousand years ago”[i]

Richard Peace, professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation at Fuller Seminary, looked carefully at the 12 disciples in the New Testament and concluded that a step-by-step process unfolds through which the disciples eventually have a transforming experience.[ii] Peace calls this “process evangelism,” summing up,

“The Twelve came to faith over time via a series of incidents and encounters with, and experiences of, Jesus. Each such event assisted them to move from their initial assumptions about Jesus to a radically new understanding of who he actually was. In his Gospel, Mark invites his readers to make this same pilgrimage of discovery.”[iii]

Esther de Wall, in The Celtic Way of Prayer: The Recovery of the Religious Imagination notes that the Christian life has always been viewed as a journey, stating,

“Life seen as a journey, an ascent, a pilgrimage, a road, is an idea as old as man himself. One of the earliest titles for Christians at the time of the Acts was “the people of the way’. We see the individual Christian as a pilgrim on earth having here no abiding city; we speak of the Church, particularly since Vatican II, as a pilgrim church. But we cannot think of life as a journey without accepting that is must involve change and growth.”[iv]

Lesslie Newbigin sums this up nicely, saying that “as a human race we are on a journey and we need to know the road. It is not true that all roads lead to the top of the same mountain. There are roads which lead over the precipice. In Christ we have been shown the road … God has given us the route we must follow and the goal to which we must press forward.”[v] Thus, the journey metaphor accommodates the imagery of planned, deliberate and unfolding bridge-building across cultural chasms.

“The Holism of a Journey”

A journey also denotes a flexible progression with varying scenarios, milestones, interruptions and course corrections. The journey metaphor conjures up the image of strenuous assents, downhill traces, varying impediments and careful mapping. Maps, sextants, and modern GPS devices attest to the desire of a traveler to pinpoint where she or he may be on their journey. Thus, the use of the journey metaphor accentuates the importance of understanding place in relation to process. Wilbert Shenk emphasized that the “flaw” with most thinking about outreach is that the “parts rather than the whole” are emphasized.[vi]

The metaphor of a journey can help overcome this flaw, by emphasizing the totality of the journey. In three separate books, Ryan Bolger,[vii] Eddie Gibbs,[viii] and this author[ix] have noted that younger generations seek holistic understandings of evangelism that do not separate the Great Commission (to make disciples of all people) from the Great Commandment (to love one’s neighbor as oneself). Gibbs and Bolger suggest this be viewed as “different sides of the same coin”[x] which is an attractive metaphor because only one substance is involved. But, coin imagery suggests that the coin at some point must be flipped over, and a new emphasis begins. The coin imagery in this author’s mind, unfortunately separates into two phases the inseparable progression of a common and continual journey.

Author Bryan McLaren appropriates the term “story” to describe this process, noting,

If you ask me about the gospel, I’ll tell you as well as I can, the story of Jesus, the story leading up to Jesus, the story of what Jesus said and did, the story of what happened as a result, or what has been happening more recently today even. I’ll invite you to become part of that story, challenging you to change your whole way of thinking (to repent) in light of it, in light of him. Yes, I’ll want you to learn about God’s grace, God’s forgiveness, and about the gift of salvation.”[xi]

This is a more attractive metaphor. But still, a story is static, inflexible and even when modernized … historically captive. It carries none of the dynamic, flexible and indigenous attributes of the varying obstacles, excursions, accompaniments and progressions encountered on a journey. Thus, the imagery of a journey better highlights continuity, commonality and elasticity. And, a journey is often a communal undertaking, and thus the journey metaphor accommodates the idea of accompaniment, companionship and inter-reliance.

“A Journey of Breaking and Refreshing News”

The term evangelism is maligned today, often associated with churches that coerce or force conversion in a self-seeking or exploitive manner. Yet Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourn Magazine, argues that a response to bad religion, should be better religion.[xii] In similar fashion, the argument could be made that our response to bad evangelism should be better evangelism.

Such disparagement was not always the case. The term evangelism originally signified breaking and revitalizing news. Evangelism is an English translation of the Greek work euangelion (Matthew 24:14), which described the “good news” that Christ and His followers personified and preached.[xiii] Customarily an optimistic message brought by a courier, euangelion was a combination of the Greek words “good” (eu) and “messenger” “angel” or “herald” (angelion). For early hearers “to evangelize” or “to bring Good News” carried the connotation of great responsibility, fantastic insights with more news to follow. Alan Richardson says, “for those who thus receive it the gospel is always ‘new’, breaking in freshly upon them and convincing them afresh…”[xiv]

Because evangelism is a process of bringing this refreshing and breaking news, it is logical that not all of that news could be communicated at one hearing. Because the news we bear is both deep and broad, it requires a journey of dialogue. And as with any subject, this news is best understood when the learning starts with the basics and the moves into more complex and complicated themes.

“Is the Joy in the Trekking, Or In the Destination?”

Some readers may wonder if merely heading out on this journey of Good News might be sufficiently rewarding, feeling that the recompense is in the going. Robert Lewis Stevenson once famously intoned, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.”[xv] While a trek by itself can be a rewarding experience, the journey of which we speak is comprised, as Doug and I discovered, of life changing renovations and eternal destinations. Such consequence indicates that simply enjoying the journey along an adventuresome route is not sufficient.

John Stott reminds us that there are spiritual triumphs on this journey and their importance dwarfs even the excitement of the trek., writing:

Evangelism relates to people’s eternal destiny, and in brining them Good News of salvation, Christians are doing what nobody else can do. Seldom if ever should we have to choose between satisfying physical huger and spiritual hunger, or between healing bodies and saving souls, since an authentic love for our neighbor will lead us to serve him or her as a whole person. Nevertheless, if we must choose, then we have to say that the supreme and ultimate need of humankind is the saving grace of Jesus Christ, and that therefore a person’s eternal, spiritual salvation is of greater importance than his or her temporal and material well being.[xvi]

Howard Snyder, in his book The Community of the King, agrees with Stott, stating that,

Evangelism is the first priority of the Church’s ministry in the world (italics Snyder). This is true for several reason: the clear biblical mandate for evangelism; the centrality and necessity of personal conversion in God’s plan; the reality of judgment; the fact that changed persons are necessary to change society; the fact that the Christian community exists and expands only as evangelism is carried out. The Church that fails to evangelize is both biblically unfaithful and strategically shortsighted.[xvii]

Wagner creates a good summation, stating “When a person dies without hearing that ‘God so loved the words that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16, RSV), it is too late. The best thing that could possibly happen to that person has been denied.”[xviii]

Some rightly fear that prioritizing either one can undermine the other. Concern about this could be a reason for the evangelical church’s nearsightedness. But Snyder reminds us that, “an evangelism that focuses exclusively on souls or on an otherworldly transaction which makes no real difference here and how is unfaithful to the gospel.”[xix] As such, both the trek and it’s destination are important.

Download the chapter here: BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT Spiritual Waypoints 10, 9, 8 & 7  and read more in Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Abingdon Press, 2010) (Please remember, if you enjoy the free download please consider supporting the author and the publisher who invested in this book by purchasing a copy)

Footnotes:

[i] James F. Engel and Wilbert Norton, What’s Gone Wrong With the Harvest (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1975), 35.

[ii] Richard Peace, Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999). Peace offers a helpful examination of Mark’s account of the 12 disciples and their conversionary experiences. Peace argues that they were not converted while traveling with Jesus as members of his apostolic band, but that Mark’s Gospel is organized in part to underscore that “were brought step-by-step to the experience of repentance and faith,” 12.

[iii] Ibid. 309.

[iv] Esther de Waal, Seeking God, 69.

[v] Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 1989), 183.

[vi] Wilbert Shenk, Changing Frontiers of Mission, 28.

[vii] Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger, Emerging Churches: Creating Christian Community in Postmodern Cultures (Grand Rapids, MI; Baker Academic, 2005), 149.

[viii] Eddie Gibbs, Church Next: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 22-27.

[ix] Bob Whitesel, Inside the Organic Church, xvi-xvii.

[x] Gibbs and Bolger, Emerging Churches, 149.

[xi] Brian McLaren, The Method, the Message, and the Ongoing Story,” in Leonard Sweet, ed., The Church in Emerging Culture: Five Perspectives (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 214-215. For a critique of McLaren’s perspective see Martin Downes, “Entrapment: The Emerging Church Conversation and the Cultural Captivity of the Gospel,” in Reforming or Conforming: Post-Conservative Evangelicals and the Emerging Church, ed.s Gary L. W. Johnson and Ronald N. Gleason (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 224-243.

[xii] Jim Wallis, God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and The Left Doesn’t Get It (New York: HarperOne, 2006), 66.

[xiii] Though familiar to the New Testament hearer this term would be strangely unique because it was rarely used as a verb, i.e. “to evangelize.”

[xiv] Alan Richardson, A Theological Word Book of the Bible, ed. Alan Richardson (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1950), 100.

[xv] Robert Louis Stevenson, Selected Writings, “Travels With A Donkey in Cevennes: An Inland Voyage” (New York: Random House, 1947), 957

[xvi] John Stott, Evangelism and Social Responsibility, 25.

[xvii] Howard A. Snyder, The Community of the King (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press), 101.

[xviii] Church Growth and the Whole Gospel (San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1981), 52.

[xix] Snyder, The Community of the King, 102.

(to use on biblicalleadership.com)

CONVERSION & The 5 Thresholds of Postmodern Conversion Overview

By Tamice Hasty, Black Campus Ministries staff at Emory University

The five thresholds of postmodern conversion are concepts developed by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp in their book, I Once Was Lost. The thresholds were derived from the stories of postmodern skeptics who shared their stories of coming to faith. All of them seemed to pass through the same five distinct stages: from distrust to trust, from complacent to curious, from being closed to change in their lives to being open, from meandering to seeking, and entering into the Kingdom…

THRESHOLD 1: Trusting a Christian

The postmodern journey of conversion usually takes place when a skeptic begins to significantly trust a Christian. Today, Christianity and religion are suspect and distrust has become the norm. This hurts and is unpleasant for believers and can result in any number of the following five knee-jerk reactions.

Five Knee-Jerk Reactions from Christians:

1. Defend

We begin to close our hearts to non-Christians and treat them with contempt. We begin to point fingers and judge.

A better response is to pray. As we pray for the person, God will give us his heart for them. We can also intercede on this person’s behalf. Read “11 Prayers for Your Friends to Know Christ.”

2. Bruise

We become personally offended and feel a sense of shame and despair. Often, we retreat and decide never to try taking a risk again.

A better reaction is to learn. Try and understand where the person is coming from. Ask questions about why they feel distrust. Read “Answering the Question Behind the Question.”

3. Avoid

We distance ourselves from people and decide not to go near their circles. This results in an “us and them” mentality, and keeps Christians huddled together in a “Christian bubble.”

A better reaction is to bond. This is an opportunity to find common ground and meet them on their own turf. Sometimes a shared experience can break down walls of distrust.

4. Judge

We can often feel the temptation to write off non-Christians because they are not following Christ and use their shortcomings as a reason to treat them rudely.

A better reaction is to affirm. Seek to find good and truth in whatever is upsetting them, and affirm those things.

5. Argue

We engage in unhelpful and fruitless debates where the goal is to win an argument rather than win the person. Apologetics are not often helpful at this stage.

A better reaction is to welcome. Inviting someone into your space to see you walk out your faith in community is very disarming.

Three Common Pitfalls to Avoid:

1. Avoid Relativism: Be honest about the uniqueness of Christ.

2. Be with Them, but Don’t Sin: It’s okay to be on their turf as long as you don’t partake in things that compromise your character and integrity.

3. Don’t Walk Unwisely into Temptation: Know your weaknesses and don’t put yourself in situations that may cause you to compromise.

THRESHOLD 2: Becoming Curious

The stage of curiosity tends to blossom over time and usually has three levels of intensity. It’s a subtle shift from being passive to being provoked to think differently.

Levels of Curiosity:

1. Awareness

This is when the person becomes aware of options they never considered, and they become open to other possibilities than their own reality.

2. Engagement

This is when the person actually begins to seek answers and affirmations to their currently reality, i.e., researching religion and so on.

3. Exchange

This is a more vocal stage when the person begins to invite others into their curiosity and reasoning.

How to Provoke Curiosity:

1. Ask Questions

Jesus was asked 107 questions in the gospels and he only answered three of them! Yet, he asked 307 questions back to the people who questioned him.

Questions have a way of getting to the heart of the matter and that is one of the main places a decision to follow Christ takes place. Read “Why You Should Ask More Questions in Spiritual Conversations.”

2. Use Parables

Pay attention to the world around you and use everyday reality and circumstances to communicate deeper truths. Jesus used this method to draw out hunger in listeners.

3. Live Curiously

Live a life that causes people around you to ask questions. This cannot be faked. The way that we live in secret will affect the way we are perceived in public.

Christian community is essential at this stage since it gives the person a picture of what it looks like to live and relate as Christ followers.

THRESHOLD 3: Opening to Change

This is the hardest threshold to cross and where a lot of people turn back or stay where they are without moving forward. However, this is the stage where the Holy Spirit is especially at work, and when a person can finally become willing to make changes in their lifestyle.

How to Encourage Openness:

1. Be Patient

Choosing to make Christ the Lord of your life is a really big decision and the person is more than likely considering the cost.

2. Pray

This is a very vulnerable and scary place to be; it involves dying to oneself. The secret prayers of friends like you matter immensely at this threshold.

3. Challenge Like Jesus Did

Affirm with Gentle Honesty: “You are right in saying…you have had five husbands.” (John 4:18)

Give an Empowering Nudge: “Take up your mat and walk.” (John 5:8)

Be a Mirror for Their Logic: “You are a teacher of Israel, yet you do not understand.” (John 3:10)

Connect the Dots: “Truly, truly I say to you…” (John 12:24)

THRESHOLD 4: Seeking After God

This threshold is about coming to a conclusion. There may not be a lot of behavioral change here because they are just about to make a decision about Jesus. There is urgency and purpose to their seeking, and they have decided it’s time to make up their minds.

Characteristics of Seekers:

1. Seeking Jesus Specifically

They seek Jesus not just “God,” and thus have a clear object of intrigue.

2. Counting the Cost

They have been around enough to know the implications of becoming a believer.

3. Spending Time in Community

They spend time with Christians and at Christian events and services. Even if they are not fully aware of what is going on, they still feel it is worth going.

During this time, we can live out the Kingdom before their eyes by showing them how to build our lives around Jesus’ words, opening up our prayer life to them, providing answers to questions (using personal apologetics as opposed to philosophical apologetics), and modeling a life of seeking.

THRESHOLD 5: Entering the Kingdom

This is the point when the person decides to repent and follow Jesus! They have decided they want to cross a real and eternally significant line. They go from flirting to commitment. They look Jesus in the face and say “I do.”

During this phase, we want to be appropriately urgent; no one stays in seeking mode forever. We want to walk closely with them into this phase and thereafter.

We can find creative ways to communicate the gospel clearly, being careful to not oversimplify. However, we can invite them in ways they can understand:

  1. The Big Story
  2. The Wedding Vows
  3. The Sport Team
  4. The Revolution

We must also make sure to celebrate this step the right way! God is throwing a big ol’ party in heaven, so throw one on earth too!

After we lead someone to Christ, our work is not done. We have to commit to help them begin well. This is usually a 6-8 week process where we want to establish key spiritual disciplines in their lives like prayer, Bible study, community, evangelism, and service. We should seek to do these things with them.

One option is to use Launch to help new Christians learn how to follow Jesus. It is a website with 10 sessions focused on the top 10 questions new Christians in university settings have about growing their relationship with Jesus. Each session also includes supplemental exercises and resources for new Christians to check out on their own time and at their own pace. Plus, new Christians will find more advice and stories from mature Christians on the Launch blog.

Read more at … http://evangelism.intervarsity.org/resource/5-thresholds-postmodern-conversion-overview

Speaking hashtags: #Kingwood2018 LEAD 565 spiritual transformation

DE-CONVERSION & Why ministers abandon the Christian faith #BGCE

by Michael Hakmin Lee Ph.D., Billy Graham Center for Evangelism at Wheaton College, Fellows colloquium, 12/18/17.

25 pastors who had been in ministry for 2+ years and who mostly came from a fundamentalist background were interviewed. To agree on terminology Dr. Lee used Paul Hiebert’s definition: a Christian is a person seeking “to follow Christ to the extent they know him.” [Paul G.Hiebert, Anthropological Insights for Missionaries (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985] p. 127.)

Insights:

  • Most who reconverted saw their Christianity as a “half-way” house that was a viable solution at the time that dissolved some of their problems and angst.
  • They saw their deconversion as a pursuit of truth.
  • There was an accumulation of doubt.

Major themes:

  1. Loss of confidence in biblical authority, in order:
    • Bible criticism,
    • Ethics in the bible,
    • Theological and hermeneutical divergence.
  2. Dissent from Christian teaching and values:
    • Hell and Christianity exclusivity
    • Science and Faith
  3. Disappointment with God and the Christian Experience
    • Efficacy of prayer and spiritual resources
    • The problem of evil
    • Provoking life struggles
    • Christian behavior
  4. Personal predisposition with characteristics of “openness to experience:”
    • Imaginativeness,
    • Sensitivity to inner feelings,
    • Perusal of new experiences,
    • Intellectual curiosity and
    • Readiness to reevaluate values.

See Kenneth Daniels book, Why I Believed: Reflections of a Former Missionary.

Also see Lewis Ray Rambo,

LEE, M. H. (0ADAD). Assessment Of Paul Hiebert’s Centered-Set Approach To The Category ‘Christian’. https://doi.org/10.2986/TREN.001-1127

SPIRITUAL WAYPOINTS & A Review by Dr. Kwasi Kena, Discipleship Ministries, United Methodist Church

A Review of “Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey” by Bob Whitesel, reviewed by Dr. Kwasi Kena, Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.


Journey
— from time immemorial writers have employed this metaphor to bear the weight of meaning for their ideas. From Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” to Scott and Russell’s song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” journey has found constant employment. To the phrase, “life is a journey,” auto-makers and airline companies place their taglines: “travel it well” (United) or “enjoy the ride” (Nissan). Isaac Asimov wrote one of my favorite twists on the journey metaphor “Life is a journey, but don’t worry, you’ll find a parking spot at the end.”

But what of the Christian journey. Who provides aid in navigating its path? We’ve borrowed the phrase “life’s a journey not a destination” from the lyrics to Aerosmith’s song “Amazing” to describe the Christian experience, but can’t we do more than borrow catch-phrases and the latest slogans for our service?

At least one author has responded to these questions, Bob Whitesel. In his book Spiritual Waypoints, Whitesel highlights key markers or waypoints located at strategic points of one’s journey toward and with Jesus Christ. Whitesel points out the advantage of using waypoints while journeying to a destination.

A waypoint is a position, not a phase or a frozen marker. It tells where a traveler is in relation to other features on the road. He also points out that a waypoint may be different for each trekker. He offers no single, canned approach to relating to people on the journey. Instead, Whitesel provides a variety of options that may be adapted by individual churches.

The Engle and Clinton Models

In the past, many clergy were exposed to the Engle scale when introduced to evangelism methodology. The Engle scale is a model that visualizes a spiritual journey along a continuum. This continuum begins with the negative number eight and ends with the positive number five. Each number represents a stage of spiritual decision. For example a negative eight(-8) represents “Awareness of a supreme being, no knowledge of gospel.” A -1 represents “Repentance and faith in Christ.” Some traditional approaches to evangelism emphasized focusing more attention on people closer to the repentance stage to maximize the probability of evangelistic “success.” Sadly, people on the extreme negative side of the Engle scale were routinely avoided. It is this type of short-sighted approach to evangelism that Spiritual Waypoints corrects.

A second model used to chart spiritual maturation is Robert Clinton’s “Six Phases of Leadership Development.” In each of these six phases, Clinton describes the “what” and “how” of spiritual development in an individual.

A Synthesized Model

Whitesel combines Engle’s Eight Stages of Spiritual Decision and Robert Clinton’s Six Phases of Leadership Development to produce his synthesized Spiritual Waypoints Model. This model provides sixteen distinct waypoints that guide the reader in determining the spiritual location of an individual. At each point, Whitesel shares practical suggestions about how to recognize and assist travelers on their spiritual journey.

In a lecture on his book, Whitesel noted that while many highly evangelistic churches have typically shied away from a “negative eight” on the Engle scale, there are ways to get the attention of such individuals. Surprisingly, he pointed to the efforts of “community outreach churches” that participated in social outreach. Through their charitable acts, these churches introduced God’s grace to people who were most antagonistic toward God. Despite initial antagonism, even the most hardened soul may take notice of kindness. This experience will pave the way for later receptivity of God’s grace in that individual.

By providing insights into what spiritual travelers are experiencing at each waypoint, churches can help such people negotiate their way toward Christ. The sixteen-point continuum provides a visual for churches to consult and assess how well they are doing to relate to people at all points of their spiritual journey. Many find that their church focuses on people only at certain points of the spiritual journey, but neglects people at other points. That occurs, says Whitesel, “because church leaders are largely unaware of the next phase of the spiritual traveler’s spiritual development.”

The Perils of Narrow Band Ministry

The neglect of the next phase in a spiritual traveler’s journey causes gaps. It means that a church is offering only a narrow band of ministry. When churches offer a narrow band of ministry, Whitesel notes “they can force the spiritual traveler to sever fellowship with one faith community in search of another that will take them to the next stage of spiritual development.”

Pastors and laity who are serious about developing a church culture that excels at evangelism and discipleship will benefit from reading this book. Pastors and laity alike would be well-served to become familiar with the descriptions and accompanying ministry strategies contained in the Spiritual Waypoints model. I agree with what one reviewer says about Spiritual Waypoints: “It will forever change the way you go about fulfilling the great commission.”

Download the review here: Review of ‘Spiritual Waypoints – Helping Others Navigate the Journey’ by Bob Whitesel

Read more here … https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/review-of-spiritual-waypoints-helping-others-navigate-the-journey-by-bob-wh

Related Resources:

Spiritual Waypoints

Engle Scale Explained

The Making of a Leader by Robert Clinton

The Making of a Leader Review PDF

 

SPIRITUAL WAYPOINT 6 & The Post-conversion Evaluation of Lecrae: What I Wish Christians Had Told Me

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: In my book Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey (Wesleyan Publishing House) I describe “Waypoint 6” as the customary “post-conversion evaluation” that new Christians often undergo after accepting Christ.  Not recognizing this stage can lead mature Christians to ignore the spiritual questions and struggles of their younger counterparts . Here’s a good reminder from Lacrae’s new book.

by Lacrae, Facts and Trends, LifeWay, 5/3/16.

When I decided to follow Jesus one night at a Christian conference in Atlanta, I assumed becoming a Christian would make life easier. I thought the rest of my life would be smiling and smooth sailing.

I assumed I wouldn’t be tempted by women and partying and acceptance and all the things that I’d been a slave to for so many years. I thought I would walk around with a continual inner peace and serenity like Gandhi or something.

This turns out to be a lie that too many people believe. You’ll actually experience more temptation, not less, after you become a Christian. Following Jesus doesn’t mean you’ll start living perfectly overnight. It certainly doesn’t mean your problems will disappear.

Rather than ridding you of problems or temptations, following Jesus means you have a place—no, a person—to run to when they come. And the power to overcome them.

Unashamed LecraeI wish someone had told me this after that night in Atlanta. Because when I started stumbling and faltering after I became a Christian, I hid my struggles. Why? Because I didn’t think it was supposed to go down like that. And because too many Christians I know lived by the same lie and condemned, shamed, and rejected other Christians who messed up.

Since I thought I was supposed to be instantly sinless and my Christian friends did too, I lived a double life. I acted like a Christian around other Christians, but I let loose whenever I wasn’t.

I can’t tell you where we got the idea that following Jesus is some kind of quick fix for all of our struggles, but it wasn’t from the Bible. No, the Scripture is like one big, unbroken story about people who decided to follow God and ended up failing almost as much as they succeeded.

Excerpted from Unashamed. Used by permission of B&H PublishingRead more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2016/05/03/lecrae-what-i-wish-christians-had-told-me/#.V7QXgMT3aJI