February 11, 2006
When people ask me what they can pray for me and our church about, I very often ask for prayer that we would see more conversions. I thank God for the conversions we have seen, but I would like to see more, for God’s glory!
I’m not, however, a big fan of the big conversion numbers that are reported by some evangelical churches. I don’t believe them. I think they discourage real evangelism and true conversions and actually make our towns and cities more difficult places to evangelize.
I remember one friend telling me years ago that their church had had over 200 baptisms in the previous year. I was stunned! I asked him "Is the town changed?" He didn’t understand. "What do you mean?" he asked. I told him that was about as many conversions as Edwards saw in the Great Awakening in Northampton.
As I kept asking questions, it became clear that he didn’t really know the people, he didn’t know if they were still (months later) going to his church, the church (with a couple of thousand in attendance) was not noticeably larger, and those being baptized were mostly children of the church (another topic). My point is, 200 baptized was just normal business for them, and it made no difference.
I pray for conversions that make a difference! It’s a little-known fact that George Bernard Shaw’s first published writing (when he was nineteen) was a letter to Public Opinion belittling a Dublin revival staged by the renowned American evangelist D. L. Moody. Shaw was not an enthusiast for the evangelist. He said that crowds attended such services merely for free entertainment, and those who were converted became ‘highly objectionable members of society.’
I can’t imagine Shaw would even notice most of our "converts." Pray for conversions–real conversions, conversions that matter, conversions that result in changed people–and more conversions–for the glory of God!