Monday, March 23, 2009

The choice in conversion

So I woke up with many thoughts aflowing on this Monday morning. The first was, "wow no rain here?"

The second was the idea of conversion.

I wondered what choices St. Paul had to face (and struggle with) after his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus. Do I listen to the Voice and go with my friends to Damascus? Do I want this priest to restore my sight? Do I really want to be different? Do I have a say in all of this?

I can't imagine that Paul's conversion was as straight-forward as it would appear from reading the book of Acts. So there must have been choices. Hard choices. The freedom to choose.

Would Paul's conversion been a real, honest conversion, if he didn't have a choice in responding to the Voice of Christ? What if he had been forced to make a change in his life?

So, then I go to thinking about ministry. How I go about it. How the Church goes about it. I've been particularly moved and challenged by this idea of Youth Ministry 3.0. Communional and missional. That's the direction we're heading. And, at least in my experience, that's the right direction to go.

But, for communional and missional to really have life, the life of the Holy Spirit, isn't conversion the hinge on which this movement rests? And shouldn't it be a conversion similar to St. Paul's, a conversion that is entered in to in and with freedom?

The Church - especially those of us in youth ministry that have access to the latest relational and evangelizing technologies - is good at creating an encounter with Christ.

Retreat. Conference. Camp. Worship service. Mission trip. Sacraments. Eucharist.

But, after the encounter, are we good enough at boldly and lovingly offering the choice of conversion? Not a coercive conversion (i.e., you will go to hell if you sin). But an authentic, from-the-inside-out new-born desire to recognize hope in love, hope in faith, hope in redemption, hope in fulfilling the deepest desires of our heart.

Because, to me, communional and missional is not possible without conversion. Without offering the choice of conversion, do our ministries fall short of what Christ and the Church is calling us to?

Without conversion, don't we leave God waiting on us on the doorsteps of our hearts for Him to share his unwavering love and mercy?

No comments: