This is a question that has been the focus of my last 3 years. As Pioneer Missioner my role is to support and encourage mission. Mission, to my understanding, is supporting a community practically so that conversations can take place about why you are supporting the community. (the correct answer to that should be something along the lines of reflecting God’s love by answering a practical need in the community). The foodbank at Chase is a perfect example of that. It helps answer a need in the community and has lead to the building of relationships which has lead to conversations and prayer. Seeds have been sown.
Over the last 10 months traditional mission has been virtually impossible but I have had a lot of time to look at the question of “How do you make a Christian?” I have researched evangelism and apologetics and mission, not extensively but enough, and I have some thoughts I want to share.
I have come to the conclusion that, while admirable and useful tools, it is relationship and community that are key to whether people remain as part of church. It is incredibly difficult to maintain faith in a vacuum. According to Billy Graham 25% of those who made a declaration of faith at his crusades followed through on it and became a Christian. I would suggest that the 25% were the ones who came with a Christian friend who walked with them and discipled them as they began their journey of faith. (Statistical research has suggested the figure is more like 6% but to be honest that is neither here nor there).
I would imagine the same stands true of apologetics and mission. God is enormous and mysterious, as it says in Job 36;26 “How great is God–beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.” God is to big for us to fully comprehend. The Bible is open as to many readings and interpretations as there are Christians, many of which seem at odds with each other.
I have come to the conclusion that many things make a person become a Christian. It may be picking up a Bible in prison and suddenly realising the truth of it. It may be listening to an evangelist on the streets or in a church meeting. It may be escaping an awful accident or illness and seeing God in the midst of it. It may be these things and many more but I personally don’t think anything beats seeing someone live out the life and being inspired by that to to enter into community with God’s people, relationship with a loving God and discipleship with someone who will walk this journey alongside us.
So my advise if you have someone you want to see meet with God is this. Settle in for a long journey, be there fore them when they need a hand or a shoulder and be light and salt to them. It is the best way to lay the ground work for God to get into their hearts.