...Richardson typifies an emerging trend called "spiritual formation," a fancy way of saying that people grow in their faith through stages. That lines up with a new study by the University of Chicago, which says that more than 50 percent of Americans have undergone a spiritual transformation or been born again. But most people, it adds, found their faith unfolding in small steps. That surprised lead researcher Tom Smith, who has been studying U.S. behavior for decades.
Of course, I find problems with this study as well as with some of the resulting analysis. At the same time, I do believe that this article is reporting about something many Baptists are uncomfortable with--conversion as a process. Because of our historical background in revivalism, we stress the importance of knowing the time of our commitment to Christ. When did we walk the aisle? When did we say the sinner's prayer? When did we allow Jesus to come into our hearts?
However, this is not a full biblical picture of conversion. We as Baptists would do well to reassess our emphasis on "decisions for Christ." Another blogger, Joe Thorn, posted an excellent series on this topic: "Reforming Evangelism." Here are his posts: