Journey to Faith: The Five Thresholds
Five Thresholds Overview
This is the journey of how people tend to explore faith. Once we understand the process, we can be more helpful to friends moving through each threshold. God is already at work in our friends; discerning what thresholds they are in allows us to be more helpful to their faith journey. May God give us wisdom, courage, and love as we help our friends grow toward their next step of faith.
The Five Thresholds
- Threshold 1: Trust
- Threshold 2: Curiosity
- Threshold 3: Openness
- Threshold 4: Seeking
- Threshold 5: Following
Threshold 1: Trust
People today often start in a place of skepticism or distrust toward Christians. In Threshold 1, they move into a relationship of trust with a Christian friend. Trust is the seed that catalyzes the journey of faith.
In John 4:1-26, Jesus built trust with the Samaritan woman by initiating a conversation and inviting her into further, deeper conversation.
OUR FRIENDS do not yet have a reason to trust a Christian.
- "If Christians are fanatical and narrow-minded, keeping one's distance seems like the smartest posture to take around us." (I Once Was Lost p. 32).
OUR ROLE is to gain trust by loving genuinely and asking questions.
- Pray for God to soften our hearts, to intercede in our friends' lives, and for opportunities to be involved in their lives.
Threshold 2: Curiosity
It’s possible to have a trust relationship with somebody for years without them having any interest in our faith. Threshold 2 is where they become curious. Learn how to ask questions that spark curiosity.
In John 3:1-15, Jesus stokes Nicodemus' curiosity by giving him surprising responses that push the conversation deeper.
OUR FRIENDS are not yet interested in our faith lives.
- "Bob was a very winsome Christian, but no one asked him about his faith." (I Once Was Lost p. 52).
OUR ROLE is to encourage questions and live curiously.
- Prepare two good questions: one to get the conversation started, and a follow-up one to keep the conversation going.
Threshold 3: Openness
Threshold 3, where people go from being closed to open to change, is the most misunderstood and mysterious of the thresholds. Your friend’s questions move from curious, often intellectual or academic, to the personal realm, and they start to examine their life. Our friends desperately need someone who is willing to offer them the truth - in love - to encourage them to be open to change.
In John 5:1-15, Jesus invites a sick man to change by asking him an obvious question - "do you want to get better?"
OUR FRIENDS do not see a need to make a change in their own lives yet.
- "Questioning your own worldview and contemplating the Christian perspective for yourself is revolutionary. It can mean coming to terms with deep-seated dissatisfactions and unanswered questions and disappointments." (I Once Was Lost p. 70).
OUR ROLE is to challenge our friends to grow in areas of personal struggle by asking them to invite God to make that change (via prayer!).
- Pray with your friend to invite God into the parts of their lives they want to see change happen.
Threshold 4: Seeking
Threshold 4 is where someone moves from simply being open to change to actually seeking after Jesus. People often begin by looking everywhere and investigating everything; Jesus is one of many options they’re exploring. We have the joy of focusing them in on Jesus and helping them ask him the questions they need answered in order to trust him.
In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus invites Bartimaeus to ask Jesus directly for what he's looking for."
OUR FRIENDS are asking spiritual questions but not looking at Jesus for the answers.
- "When someone is truly seeking, there is an urgency and purpose to their searching. Even they feel that the time is ripe: they want answers to their questions, they want to come to some conclusions." (I Once Was Lost p. 86).
OUR ROLE is to help them engage stories of Jesus and show them how Jesus engages their questions and longings (via bible study!).
- Invite your friend into a Bible Study GIG (Group investigating God) and help them answer their questions.
Threshold 5: Following
This is the wonderful moment when someone puts their trust in Jesus for the first time. As a friend, in Threshold 5 we can help them see how good Jesus and the kingdom of God are, as well as the cost involved in following Jesus. We also need to celebrate with them and continue to support them in their new journey of faith.
In John 4:27-42, Jesus reveals that he is the Messiah to the Samaritan woman, returns to her village and invites the villagers to meet Jesus for themselves."
OUR FRIENDS have not made a decision to follow Jesus yet...
- "Urgency is appropriate desperation for something or someone of great worth. Often when our friends have been seeking for some time and we snese that they are ripe and need to make a decision, we can ask them, explicitly and simply, to follow Jesus." (I Once Was Lost p. 108).
OUR ROLE is to share the gospel and invite them to say yes to following Jesus.
- Watch how to share the Big Story, practice with a partner, and share it with your friend.