Still 'fine-tuning' our process. You can get to the original article HERE
NOTE: THIS ARTICLE is a reprint from the blog of reverend Kevin Rogers of New Song Church in Windsor, Ontario and is reproduced here for your convenience. You can visit the his blog called "The Orphan Age" HERE.
Maybe you are trying to figure out where you are in the
local church. You may be in a church where it feels like everyone is on the
side of the pool or splashing in the shallow end with water wings on their
arms. You may look at the deep end and wonder why it’s empty. Or you may feel
intimidated by the flashy high divers and think, ‘I could never do that.’ The
people doing laps may be inspiring you to think about doing the same.
Maybe local church is supposed to be for people at all
levels and even for non-swimmers at the side. We may be too critical, proud, or
intimidated by what we see when we should be finding our end to learn and be
We are really talking
about discipleship—what are the disciplines and practices of a good swimmer
that keep them in the pool and ready to face open water without the lifeguards
and safe, learning environment?
In the same way that a high-level swimmer trains and
develops, the local church should be a place where you can get help to reach
your goals. And if you’re just dipping your toes in, that’s okay, too. There is
always more to experience and people that understand why you might feel timid
about getting in.
When we step out of the pool analogy and look at a person’s
spiritual formation, we see that there are progressive steps toward becoming a
mature follower of Jesus Christ. Let me show you the Engel Scale as a way of
understanding how we grow.
“The Engel Scale”
originates with James F Engel, from the book ‘What’s Gone Wrong With The Harvest?’, published by Zondervan in 1975. The insight into evangelism that is generally drawn
from the Engel scale is that all people go on a journey or process on
their way to conversion and then on into discipleship.
Starting at the level of a person with no awareness of God,
we see a progression that brings them from the fringe to becoming friendly with
the truth about Jesus to entering into the family of God in a committed way.
Notice the yellow text—ten stages of progression before a
person makes a fully, cognizant act of free will to surrender their life to
following Jesus. That is usually where we say a person gets saved and baptized
It’s intriguing that many churches view the decision to
surrender to Jesus as the starting point of being a disciple. In a rush to get
people to that point, we develop educational programs and experiences primarily
for the already converted.
But if we are to reach all people within our orbit, we need
to make accommodation for those that are nowhere close to step ten. What if we
were to pay more attention to the fringe of the church and be very intentional
about befriending? And what if we continually invite people to get in and go
Those people that have never been to a pool may need a
friend to bring them. The ones who feel safe on the lawn chairs may be
encouraged to come close and put their feet in. The beginners can be coached to
learn how to cross the buoy line and enjoy the deep end.