Each person has an individual faith journey that is not necessarily a reflection of his or her sacramental status, knowledge of the faith or the number of years associated with a particular church. Sherry Weddell in Forming Intentional Disciples: A Path to Knowing and Following Jesus identifies different phases of growth and transformation in people’s journeys that start with an initial positive association, and culminate in a commitment to follow Jesus Christ as a disciple.
These “thresholds of conversion” are marked by a genuine work of grace -empowered by the Holy Spirit, and reflect a spiritual energy and a choice on the part of each person; they represent a person’s lived relationship with God.
The understanding of these thresholds is an integral part of the formation of the evangelizer to identify his or her own faith journey. It is also an indispensable tool for ministry, not to label people or programs, but to identify someone else’s journey to better serve them.
For more information on how to conduct “threshold conversations”, please contact Monica Oppermann, firstname.lastname@example.org, 404-920-7632
A person is able to trust or has a positive association with Jesus Christ, the Church, a Christian believer, or something identifiably Christian. Trust here is not the same as active personal faith. Without some kind of bridge of trust in place, people will not move closer to God.
A person finds himself intrigued by or desiring to know more about Jesus, his life, and his teachings or some aspects of the Christian faith. This curiosity can range from mere awareness of a new possibility to something quite intense. Nevertheless, a person at the threshold of curiosity is not yet open to personal change. Curiosity is still essentially passive, but it represents a step beyond basic trust.
A person acknowledges that he or she is open to the possibility of personal and spiritual change. This is one of the most difficult transitions for a postmodern nonbeliever. Openness is not a commitment to change. People who are open are simply admitting that they are open to the possibility of change.
The person moves from being stirred to actively seeking to know the God who is calling him or her. It is, if you will, "dating with a purpose” but not yet marriage. Seekers are asking, “Are you the one to whom I will give myself?” At this stage the seeker is engaged in an urgent spiritual quest, seeking to know whether he or she can commit to Christ and his Church.
Intentional Decision to Follow Jesus
This is the decision to “drop one’s nets,” to make a conscious commitment to follow Christ in the midst of his Church as an obedient disciple and begin to reorder one’s life accordingly.