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Trust Issues

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 becoming a believer…

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.

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.

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.
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