Conversion is an often misunderstood word. In English it refers to a changing of one’s direction, or of one’s faith. Literally, Webster says, conversion means “to change from one belief, religion, doctrine and/or opinion to another.” Many of us have undergone some kind of conversion. Most of us have had more than one conversion experience. We have seen a truth so powerfully revealed to us by the Holy Spirit that we had to change our belief and practice. This is a conversion. Christianity is rooted, by the work of the Holy Spirit, in conversion. This is why this type of language is so common among Christians the world over.

The New Testament speaks of conversion to faith in Christ and it clearly speaks of this work as past, present and future. We have been saved, we are being saved and we will finally and ultimately be saved. I experienced the first of these tenses decades ago and I am experiencing the second one even today. The third is future for me and all who read this blog if you are a follower of Jesus.

In my book, Your Church Is Too Small, I write of my own experience of conversion as a boy of six years of age. I then describe what I call two more powerful conversions that took place in my life and how these two now shape my practice of faith. The last conversion, which was to the unity of the faith in one holy catholic church, is what my new book is all about. Understanding these three personal markers in my journey might encourage you along the road of your own journey toward Christ. I pray this will be true.

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  1. Chris Criminger May 18, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Hi John,
    I love hearing your conversion stories. I would also love to hear from others as well.
    Here are six I came up with:
    1. My conversion to Christ when I was 14 years old. Baptism at this age was also a significant spiritual rite for me as a Southern Baptist.
    2. Almost 18 years old (3 1/2 years later), I sensed a call to Christian ministry and to be a minister. This was quite shocking to me since I had made fun of one of my best friends who told me he was going into the ministry.
    3. Age 21 (little over 3 years later), I made a huge shift from the Baptist Church to the Christian Church. I no longer believed in once saved, always saved but I have also seen something work similar in the Christian Church like once baptized always baptized.
    The issue for both of these was discipleship and living out the faith which I witnessed many people in both church traditions not doing.
    4. At age 33, I received what charismatics or Pentecostals might call the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual gifts, angels and demons, and the Kingdom of God on earth became much bigger issues for me experientially.
    5. The first clergy Promise Keepers (12 years ago?) opened me up to racial reconciliation, a heart for Israel, and reading the Scriptures in a new way (non-supersessionistic ways).
    6. An Emmaus Walk ten years ago led me into a more sacramental life and one that focused on the catholicity of the church. I have sensed my calling to be a bridge builder between charismatics and non-carismatics, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics, Protestants, and Eastern Orthodox.

  2. Chris Criminger May 28, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    Hi John,
    I was talking to a passionate brother for Christ today and as we discussed some things, I suddenly realized one of the most major conversions or ministry changes that has ever happened in my life took place about nine years ago.
    So here goes number seven. I did the Prayer of Jabez experient and asked God to enlarge my territory and suddenly out of no where I was suddenly thrust into our local area jail ministry.
    The greatest fruitfulness of ministry I have ever seen is from this area. The greatest moves of God I have experienced have been in these settings. The people God is putting in my life who are helping me now in ministry are people I worked with in jail. The incredible thing to me in all this is the church has been so supportive of ex-cons who lives have been touched by God to come into our local congregation.
    I am continually astounded and amazed in what God is doing. Next month we are opening a remodeled church building in a town close by to house men who are committed to a deeper life with Christ.

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