Three Stages of Conversion
Written by Rob L. Whitacre

“The game slowed down,” is how Michael Jordan explained his rise to excellence in basketball. When he first started, the game was fast. He missed the obvious, was unable to anticipate, and just took the game into his own hands. As he grew older and more experienced, the game slowed down; he was able to see the whole court, anticipate defenses, and adjust to ensure the victory. He seemed to have eyes in the back of his head.

The more you study the Bible with the lost, the better you will become. You will learn to anticipate, adjust, and adapt so you can overcome challenges. Over the years, we have noticed three reactions from students during studies that help take them to Jesus. We call them the three stages of conversion.

The curiosity stage is first. This is an important first step that helps the teacher understand the true interest of the prospect in the study. Back to the Bible, book 1, should produce curiosity. Learning the difference between the Old and New Testaments, along with the fact that we are no longer under the Ten Commandments, is almost always a revolutionary teaching to those in the “Christian community.” They begin to wonder why they were never taught this basic concept, or how they missed other obvious truths. Curiosity can indicate learning. Recognize it by observing questions or simple statements made by the prospect. Silence or complete acceptance during a study can be a bad sign.

The second stage is concern. This is more than a curiosity that can be put aside and forgotten. As the truth grows in the heart, it captivates the mind. For example, when people learn they are not worshipping correctly, or that their church is not found in the Bible, they are more concerned than curious.  Concern may prompt the following question: “I wonder why my church does not take the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week.” At times, they may even be moved to ask their pastor or someone who attends their church about these differences. You will notice a different tone of voice as the gravity of the teaching becomes apparent.

The third and final stage is conflict. It is certainly the most uncomfortable part of the study. Our culture seeks to avoid conflict, and for some of us, conflict runs counter to our personality. Still, this remains an indispensable part of conversion. If there is no conflict, there will be no resolution. Changes do not take place by keeping the status quo; changes are a result of necessity. When a person learns that he or she is lost, the conflict requires a solution. Blurring the lines and camouflaging the truth will not bring people to the cross. At some point, the student must come to understand he is lost and see the answer in obeying the gospel. We understand this is best accomplished by using a Bible study method and letting them see the truth with their own eyes.

There are three stages of conversion. The Ethiopian eunuch was curious about Jesus and asked questions (Acts 8:31, 34). The answer prompted him to listen to Philip. The teaching concerned him as he began to realize something was missing in his life. The message culminated in a personal conflict about his salvation as the eunuch said, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” (Acts 8:36). The conversion came immediately as both Philip and the Eunuch went down into the watery grave of baptism (Acts 8:38).

Understanding how Bible studies work will help you become a better teacher. As the study progresses, and God’s Word affects the sinner, you will realize that you are becoming a better teacher. The Word of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12). It must cut before it can heal. Using it with the skill of a surgeon’s scalpel can help save people from their sins.

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