Friday, January 29, 2016


Why I Stopped Teaching the Five Steps of Salvation a Long Time Ago

The "Five Steps of Salvation" is a term that members of the Church of Christ and some Christian Churches will recognize.  This was a common evangelism approach.  It is one I grew up on and one I stopped using in college.  So if you did not grow up in this heritage, you may not find this post interesting.

And I am not going to bash those who use this approach.  I am really negative about this approach but that is not the same as being negative about the people who use it.

I am writing this because there has been quite a bit of discussion about this floating around in various forums lately so since I talk about this in some of my seminars, I thought I would weigh in.

If you do not talk to lost people about Jesus, I really do not care about your opinion.  If you aren't doing it, don't criticize the way others do what you will not do.  If you are not talking to non-believers about Jesus, you have much bigger issues than what approach to take.

I do believe their is a better way to share Jesus.  My preference is to share stories.

But here are my concerns about the five steps and why I quit using that approach over 40 years ago.

It is really easy to skip past talking about Jesus and put the focus on how to become his follower.  Very easy to end up with misplaced priorities.  Very easy to end up with baptized non-believers.  Getting the cart before the horse.

In practical ways, it was "here are the first four and now let's focus on the important step -- #5."  So you end up with a lot of baptized people who never really understand discipleship.  I get how that becomes a natural reaction to those who minimize the importance of baptism.  But anytime we teach something in reaction to to others, you can end up losing the main focus.  And by the way, I am of the opinion that reducing baptism to a step devalues it.  Being crucified with Jesus just seems way bigger than a step.  Hard to talk about being crucified with Jesus without talking about Jesus.

But here is the thing that bothered me the most.  We would tell someone that we were a people of the book and that we would only teach from the Bible.  You would not find any denominational doctrine among us.  Other groups would put forth their doctrine and try to support it with proof texts.  but we would only use the Bible.

Then we put out what sure looked like Church of Christ doctrine backed up by our proof texts.

Hear, believe, confess, repent, and be baptized.  And here are the proof texts.

That may not be how it was intended and I am not even arguing whether it was right or wrong.  But I am saying that is exactly what it looked like to those we studied with.  And then you end up with members of the Church of Christ instead of disciples committed to being the church of Christ.  We ended up putting the emphasis on the wrong C-word.

So being a lot more interested in actually reaching people for Jesus instead or arguing over how to become a Christian...

I decided to try a more effective way.  Jesus taught by using stories.  So that is what I started doing.  Sharing Jesus stories with people. Sharing stories of those first Christians in Acts.

Made a lot more disciples.  More time on what Jesus did. And when they bought into that, what to do was never again much of an issue.

Passion to reach the lost, sharing the story of Jesus, seeing them become disciples.

Feel free to use any approach you want in talking to your friends about Jesus.  I am just sharing why I changed my approach.  But above all, talk about Jesus.

Well said!
Well said!
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