My sweet friends, have you ever discovered information that has left you in stunned amazement? I had one of those moments yesterday as I was researching the topic of “brokenness”. I was writing today’s post about how being driven to the foot of the cross in brokenness before God is actually a gift from Him. It was then that I stumbled upon George Barna’s “10 Stops on the Path of Christian Transformation”.
George Barna, founder of the Barna research group, interviewed over 15,000 Christians over a period of approximately six years. His goal was to better understand how God transforms people’s lives. What he discovered was astonishing – a relatively stable developmental process in the lives of believers. While the details of their stories differ, the journeys of all believers follow surprisingly similar paths. His findings have been published in a book called Maximum Faith: Live Like Jesus.
One of the results of Barna’s study that stood out most to me, besides being able to relate my personal testimony to each of the 10 steps, was that the growth process is not determined by length of time as a believer or amount of time spent in church activities. Instead, genuine transformation was achieved through “a long-term commitment, a solid partnership with God, the willingness to grow through pain and hardship, and the willingness to live a countercultural life.”¹ I would suggest that this “solid partnership with God” is cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He leads you first to salvation, then through sanctification (becoming more holy).
Practically speaking, what does this research mean? It means that you can make amazing, wonderful, measurable progress in your journey to Jesus in a relatively short amount of time if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and dig in! If you persist, you can and will flourish spiritually. Remember our key verse?
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)
Becoming a Christian and following God aren’t things that can be reduced to checklists. In fact, they are precisely NOT things that can be done by our own works. Remember how we talked yesterday about how finding God is a process? Growing in Christ is also a process. The Holy Spirit drives both these processes. Your job is simply to yield to Him as He does His work.
The checklist is helpful in that it illuminates the path ahead. There is reward to persisting at each step – you can climb to the next level if you cooperate with the Holy Spirit!!! There is purpose and meaning – particularly in discontent and brokenness!
Today’s lesson and task are joined together. As you read through the following steps, adapted from George Barna’s research, I want you to evaluate your own journey with Jesus. You may have gone through each one of these steps. You may have skipped steps. You may have stayed on one step for a very long time. You may even have gone backwards down the steps. There is no “right” or “wrong” answer here; no judgement.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6 ESV)
As you read, please record in your prayer journal:
- Have I been on this step?
- Have I skipped this step?
- What step am I on now?
- Have I gone down steps? If so, what factors influenced that?
- What step is my goal?
It is much easier to make progress when we have a picture of where we are and where we want to go.
I hope to walk beside you as the Holy Spirit guides you. His goal is that you are made complete and whole in Christ. This is attainable if you are willing to persevere! God wants to be found. He wants you to be confident in your salvation and in your relationship with Him. 💕
And you have been made complete in Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:10 BSB)
10 Steps of Christian Transformation
1. Ignorance of the Concept or Existence of Sin: At this step, people are completely oblivious to the existence of sin.
2. Aware of but Indifferent to Sin: At this step, people are aware of the concept of sin, but aren’t concerned about it. They have no desire to stop sinning.
3. Concerned About the Implications of Personal Sin: At this step, people start to become concerned about sin in their lives. They realize that they have done wrong and crossed some sort of moral line. They may long to be free of certain sins or feel guilt about them. They try to overcome these sins through persistence and willpower, and may or may not be successful. They may seek counselling for guilt or addictions.
4. Understand a Need for Forgiveness: At this step, people hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and may have an intellectual or emotional response to it. They are now aware that they are sinners and that Jesus has offered to pay the price for their sin.
5. Commitment to Religious Activities: At this step, people commit to Christian activities. This includes things like attending church services, participating in studies, serving in the community, volunteering in the church, and following religious rites and traditions. Religious rites can include baptism and communion. The outward appearance at this step can be very devout.
6. Prolonged Period of Spiritual Discontent: At this step, people feel uncomfortable spiritually. They may think, “I’m doing everything I’m supposed to, but I still feel so empty. Why?” They may be plagued with uncertainty about their salvation. They may notice a disconnect between what they believe and how they feel. At this step, people realize that there must be more to Christianity than what they have… and they want it… but may not know how to get it.
7. Personal Brokenness: At this step, people realize that they are broken. They come to the end of themselves and agonize over their own limitations. Here, there is a choice… continue to try to rely on self, or fully submit to God.
8. Choosing to Surrender to God: In this step people fully comprehend themselves as utterly and completely lost without Jesus. In a move of great faith, they surrender their heart to Jesus and trust Him as their Savior. There is no going back from this step of repentance; those who come here will persist in the faith until they die. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer at this point and confirms in their heart that they are children of God. They “know that they know that they know” they are saved. In this step, people begin to submit their will to God and His purposes.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:10-11 ESV)
9. Experience a Profound Love for God: In this step, people begin to develop a deep, intimate, and profound love for God. They grow in loving Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. They grow in understanding the height, breadth, and depth of the love of God for them.
10. Experience a Profound Love for Other People: In this step, after being filled with the love of God, people begin to extend God’s love to others. They begin to see others as God sees them and yearn to win hearts for Jesus out of a profound love for them. Service for others is driven by love.
Sin = Anything we think, say, or do that goes against God’s holy standards; living to please ourselves instead of God
How about you, was your mind as blown by this description of the Christian Journey as mine was? You can use this developmental process to motivate you to push ahead in your walk with God. Remember, though, that it is the Holy Spirit Himself who compels us and gives us the ability to move through these steps. You can’t do it by your own effort, willpower, or perseverance. We are propelled forward by yielding!
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)
Please Pray With Me:
Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise,
Let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love;
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee,
Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing
Always, only, for my King;
Take my lips, and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee,
Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold;
Not a mite would I withhold;
Take my intellect, and use
Every power as Thou shalt choose,
Every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine;
It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart; it is Thine own;
It shall be Thy royal throne,
It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love; my Lord, I pour
At Thy feet its treasure-store.
Take myself, and I will be
Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.