Understanding the Common Path To Conversion

Why Relational Evangelism Works

Understanding the Common Path To Conversion

As a preacher, I often end my messages by inviting people to pray a prayer. I think it’s simple. I think it’s wise. As I suggest words to apply to one’s life, an uncertain person feels led to connect with God on a personal level. Now, it should go without saying, that words alone have never wrought real life change. The moving of one’s mouth does not always indicate the moving of one’s heart. True conversion involves a confession, but true repentance must be present.

Are “conversions” the scorecard?

As important as it is for a person to experience a conversion moment with Christ, and as vital as it is that they take a bold step to be baptized publicly, I believe that evangelism is so much more than this. The ball of evangelism must be taken down the field, and many “first downs” normally precede the salvation moment.

What is the Engel Scale?

The Engel Scale has profoundly changed many people’s idea of evangelism. It has certainly helped me see the bigger picture. As you can see here, James Engel developed this tool to light up the normal path to a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ. The average person needs a four-year runway to accepting Christ into their lives. Notice the journey from Fringe to Friend to Family.

Engel Scale - Path to Christ - Relational Evangelism

As you analyze this chart, think about the various people that God has strategically placed around you. Can you think of a person that has never heard the Gospel and would have zero knowledge of the biblical worldview? That person is on the fringe, for sure.

And what about the coworker who seems warm to religion, mentions the “man upstairs” from time to time, but clearly has no connection with a local church or growing conversation about Jesus in their life. This person is a friend, but hasn’t taken the step to join the family.

Finally, think about that person has become a Christian recently, but seems to still have a very basic understanding of the Gospel, a low level of Christian maturity. This person is family, but needs a more seasoned believer to pour in and to catalyze growth.

According to the Engel scale, every person in your life lives somewhere on the spectrum, and God has called you to spur them on. Take a moment and pray that God would give you eyes to see the key relationships he has formed around you. There is no stewardship opportunity larger than the way that you leverage your influence for Christ, helping people take that next step toward Christ.