Author: Don Everts and Doug Schaupp
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
ISBN 13: 978-1844743445
Reviewed by Edward Pilling, Lecturer at Redcliffe College.
Originally titled I Once Was Lost, the re-branding of this book to a positive
expression of a journey to faith only adds to the already outstanding content.
The past thirty years have seen countless books, seminars and conferences
offered to the Christian public to help us contextualise the gospel to a
postmodern culture. This is the first book that I have read in which the
Introduction begins, “Meet the Authors (all 2000 of them)”. That’s the
difference. Everts and Schaupp interviewed and listened to the stories of
‘postmoderns’ who have come to faith in Christ. They noticed common experiences, and certain themes were so prevalent that they became the core material of the book. The themes are called ‘the five thresholds’, but the authors are careful to caution against stereotyping and recognise that individual pathways to Jesus are both mysterious and organic.
The five thresholds are: from distrust to trust; from complacent to curious; from being closed to being open to change; from meandering to seeking; and, crossing the threshold of the Kingdom itself.
Distrust is a societal norm for ‘postmoderns’. The challenge for us to be ‘messengers’ who develop relationship not teaching, friendship not evangelism, listening not preaching and asking questions not giving answers, can be difficult when a previous generational culture would take trust for granted. The lesson from our postmodern brothers and sisters in Christ is clear, ‘no trust – no listen’.
It was helpful to read that we do not have to have all the answers to all the questions of those who are curious. The authors do suggest questions should be encouraged, but make the point that Jesus was asked 183 questions in the gospel accounts and answered only three, but asked 307 questions in reply (who researched that?) The point is that dialogue and self discovery are a means of accepting that there is more than one worldview.
Commitment to the gospel was also clear. There is to be no distortion or compromise with the truth of the gospel. The ‘seeker’ of threshold four seeks Jesus, not some spiritual curiosity. They count the cost and the personal implications of following Jesus should be unambiguous.
This book helps me to identify what stage a person has reached in their pathway to Jesus, in particular, when someone moves from curiosity to seeking, and the way to help them at each separate stage. Threshold five also confirmed something I have observed, namely that ‘seeking’ has a shelf life. There is an urgency the nearer someone is to the Kingdom of God, and the spiritual battle can become intense. At this time if a person hesitates to cross the threshold there can be a hardening of heart and attitude. We are encouraged to pray at each threshold, but especially at this point.
I have used this book as a set text for modules in evangelism and discipleship. When used alongside books such as Know and Tell the Gospel (Chapman), Marks of the Messenger (Stiles), and Mission to Oz (Tabb), there is a clear emphasis on discipleship being integral to the message of the gospel. The balance is most clearly seen when we consider the three key questions in the Christianity Explored course: Who is Jesus? Why did he come? What does it mean to follow him?
Everts and Schaupp always seem to capture the attention of the reader and promote a healthy class discussion. If you want to share the gospel, and are willing to share your life as well, this is a stimulating and thought provoking read.
Please Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Redcliffe College.
Return to Issue 46.