In line with my post the other day on revival and Pentecost, I have been thinking about a word (unlike revival) does not get as much use any more. Very rarely do I hear talk of conversion. What is especially odd is that we once used this word a lot in context with revival. Even I have to admit that I don’t use the word much in sermons (I thought about that this morning as I read John Meunier’s draft for his Pentecost Sermon).
I like the definition of conversion that I once heard from a seminary friend of mine who was describing a church where she worked one summer. She said the church didn’t seem to talk much about the sense of letting go of the world’s hand and grasping onto the hand of God. Instead, we talk about the church’s activities in two ways:
- Mission and Outreach – The church’s activities are helping people (I use this as a vague term to encompass lots of things, and I ask forgiveness for the simplistic way it sounds as if I am belittling it). These activities are very important, but when I ask about how/if this will turn to discipleship I get either a blank look or am told it does not matter.
- Providing a place where people will come and see how nice we are and maybe start coming on Sunday morning and giving. OK, unlike the first, I am belittling this one slightly. The question is, why would they want to come on Sunday morning? What does it mean if they do?
I think we have lost something in the church’s counter-culture nature if we lose this word. We need to find (perhaps new and different) ways of confronting people with the gospel as Peter did on the first Pentecost. More so, I don’t want in the rush to do the outreach work that we stop thinking about conversion, even if we only say, we don’t know how to approach it yet.