I Once Was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus, By Don Everts and Doug Schaupp

I Once Was Lost

What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus

by Don Everts and Doug Schaupp

I Once Was Lost
  • Length: 134 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: April 04, 2008
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3608
  • ISBN: 9780830836086

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How do people come to Jesus in today's postmodern culture? Not by a mechanical, linear process of cookie cutter conversions. Nor by a nebulous spiritual wandering that never culminates in decision and commitment.

Over the last decade, Don Everts and Doug Schaupp have listened to the stories of two thousand postmodern people who have come to follow Jesus. While their stories are diverse and varied, certain common themes emerge. Postmodern evangelism is a mysterious and organic process that nevertheless goes through discernible phases, as people cross thresholds from distrust to trust, from complacency to curiosity and from meandering to seeking.

Everts and Schaupp describe the factors that influence how people shift in their perspectives and become open to the Gospel. They provide practical tools to help people enter the kingdom, as well as guidelines for how new believers can live out their Christian faith.

"For years we've dissected postmodern culture. It's time to better understand postmodern people. Without neglecting the mystical and organic realities of evangelism, Don and Doug offer a street-savvy, relationally guided process for engaging seekers in the context of their spiritual journey, not our prepackaged program. Compelling, winsome and intensely practical!"

Bill Donahue, Ph.D., director of adult ministries, Willow Creek Association

"Where can we find incredible insight into the mysterious dynamic of coming to faith in Christ? Between the covers of this marvelous book! Set in the very heart of today's culture, I Once Was Lost brings to light the contours of the conversion experience for real people in real life. Moreover, Don Everts and Doug Schaupp peer beyond mere description, prescribing practical and specific guidance for ushering skeptical seekers across the threshold into the kingdom. This illuminating resource tool will most certainly inspire within you and your small group a heart and a pathway for reaching the lost."

Garry Poole, author of Seeker Small Groups and director of evangelism, Willow Creek Community Church

"Do you feel immobilized or lost in this postmodern world as you ponder how to proceed in helping your friends become followers of Jesus? In I Once Was Lost, Don Everts and Doug Schaupp do a masterful job helping us discover how to be a guide alongside of our friends. Through the complex lives and winsome stories of their friends, Don and Doug help us to better understand the journey to faith and the thresholds that need to be crossed to become followers of Jesus. Through reading this book you will be encouraged to discover the fulfilling role you can have in guiding your friends to Jesus."

Jimmy Long, author of Emerging Hope and the Emerging Culture Curriculum Kit

"Doug and Don bring us right back to what it was like to be 'lost.' Holding the delicate balance between mystery and analysis, this contribution to the discussion of conversion is invaluable and will undoubtedly lead to more effective and organic ministry for all who put it into practice. Integrating cultural analysis with real life story and practical guidelines on how to be a friend teach us much about doing ministry in a postmodern age. They provide the much-needed model on how to talk naturally about Jesus and the kingdom of God. This book is a must-read for those seeking to make an eternal difference in the lives of non-Christians today."

York Moore, evangelist and author of Growing Your Faith by Giving It Away

"Doug and Don and their brothers and sisters with InterVarsity have discerned a new movement of God's Spirit among our post-Christian, postmodern culture. Their insights from the frontlines of campus ministry provide a whole new paradigm for viewing the process by which one becomes a member of the kingdom of God."

Douglas Scott, writer and filmmaker, creative catalyst and video producer, Willow Creek Community Church

"I am so excited about this book! For someone like me who finds himself living in a Christian bubble, after just a few minutes of reading it I felt inspired and more equipped to articulate my faith. As a worship leader, I am so grateful for a book that has so beautifully explained the role that worship plays in helping a seeker find the God who made them! As explained in the book, seekers are not looking for passionless, careful worship, but they are looking for a genuine, God-anointed worship with a graciously delivered explanation! I believe this book will not only release fears that are in us as individuals to share our faith, but it will also release churches to passionately raise the worship temperature in their corporate meetings and watch scores of people come to Christ all at the same time. If you ask me, that sounds like the kind of God-honoring church we all want to go to!"

Tommy Walker, songwriter and worship leader

"What's in the secret sauce? It took two decades of lab work to find out, but two campus ministers working two different kitchens have picked up the five pivotal 'thresholds' that usher postmoderns into faith. This will be high on my list of the most important books on evangelism published so far in the twenty-first century."

Leonard Sweet, Drew Theological School, George Fox University, www.sermons.com

"Of the many books on the practice of evangelism this is one that does not leave the reader feeling frustrated and guilty! It does not promote an engineered confrontation but invites us to build respectful relationships and engage in stimulating conversation. It recognizes that in our post-Christendom context, sharing the good news requires patience and sensitivity. The authors carry credibility in that they draw copiously from their day-to-day experience."

Eddie Gibbs, senior professor of church growth, Fuller Theological Seminary, author of ChurchNext and LeadershipNext

"This book starts and ends on the ground, just where most of us need help in sharing our faith. It coaches us in practical ways to both discern and respond to where people really are. Its prolific examples amplify and apply very important values that are embedded in the gospel, alongside those that are features of our postmodern cultural life. This is a very motivating and useful book, and I commend it enthusiastically."

Mark Labberton, senior pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, author of The Dangerous Act of Worship

"I Once Was Lost is an enormous gift to the church. Schaupp and Everts offer us a mysterious and organic framework with which we can begin to understand the way postmoderns come to faith in Christ. Based on fifteen years of working with thousands of college students, they show us a first clear (yet neither facile nor simplistic) vision of the path to postmodern conversion. Individually, conversion is grounded in the mysteries of God working in lives. Collectively, a discernible pattern exists. This is an extraordinary book. Let it change your mind and change your heart. May it move you into prayer for and service of the young adults who share your life."

Martha Grace Reese, author of Unbinding the Gospel and the Real Life Evangelism Series

"Doug and Don have looked into the mystery of postmodern conversion and given us some handles and helps so that we can serve people well in their spiritual journey toward Christ. I am very excited about their keen insight and practical approach, and am recommending the book to many."

Rick Richardson, associate professor and director, M.A. in Evangelism and Leadership program, Wheaton College Graduate School, and author of Reimagining Evangelism and Evangelism Outside the Box

"When it comes to evangelism, a one-size-fits-all approach has not worked for a long time—if ever. Schaupp and Everts have helped us all by actually finding out how students these days are making their way to faith. The view of evangelism that emerges is relational, natural and full of integrity. My students, even those who can hardly say the E-word without stuttering, will find their anxieties diminishing and their boldness increasing. This book is now a key component of my reading lists."

Stephen A. Hayner, professor of evangelism, Columbia Theological Seminary

"There is great help in this new book by Don and Doug. It reveals clues on how God 'mysteriously and marvelously' moves people toward himself. I'm incorporating the content into my teaching, starting today."

Lon Allison, director, Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College

"Everts, Schaupp . . . clearly identify the epistemological dissonance expressed by the skeptic and the effect this dissonance has on the psychology of conversion in the twenty-first century. Having listened to the testimonies of postmodern skeptics who have walked the path to faith, these authors offer us a coherent framework for both understanding the modern convert and accompanying him out of the world and into the kingdom."

Thomas A. Baima, Touchstone, January/February 2015

"There is a lot of practical advice to be found here on how best to win postmodern people for Christ."

Guy Davies, Protestant Truth, July-August 2009

"This book is a gem worth being found."

Jason Brian Santos, The Journal of Student Ministries, November/December 2008

". . .immensely helpful without becoming formulaic. . .the book carefully travels the tightrope between the competing programmatic and relational paradigms of evangelism."

Dan Taylor, Leadership Journal, Fall 2008

I would highly recommend the book as insightful, brief, hopeful and stimulating. College students will be loved better by people who read this book.

Andy Rowell, Church Leadership Conversations (andyrowell.net/andy_rowell), September 19, 2008

"Marked by a humility and maturity in desiring to make change in the way Christian become fishers of men, I Once Was Lost is a practical tool. With wise insights and healthy encouragement, Christians are inspired to take care in finding the answers and allow time, faith and prayer to be what leads others as well."

Worship Leader, July/August 2008

"This easy-flowing book tells many stories of students as they cross each threshold and gives practical tips on how to support people in each step."

John Dunham, Youth Worker Journal, September/October 2008

"Particularly helpful is their discussion of how to provoke curiosity about the gospel. Although many Christians might be comfortable giving answers, they show that Jesus was a master of asking good questions."

Susan Olasky, WORLD July 12/19 2008

"While the five thresholds give us bearings in a time of transition, Everts and Schaupp remind us that no model should be held too closely—as evangelism is finally determined by the individual before us."

InterVarsity.org Staff Website, June 2008

"Many in college ministry will find this book fresh and challenging. Others will see in it principles and observations in which they already function comfortably. Either way, I Once Was Lost provides an apt reminder that what it means to creatively and respectfully love those whom God loves must change over time."

Chap Clark in Christianity Today, June 2008

"[C]ommendable for its frank and realistic look at what entices or deters people on their way into the kingdom of God."

John D. Leatherman in Christian Retailing, April 7, 2008

"This is a primer on how postmodernity affects evangelism. Doug and Don's observations are born out of experience, not theory. Their insights are accessible and applicable not only on the college campus but where you live and work."

Jim Henderson, author of Evangelism Without Additives and Jim and Casper Go to Church


Introduction: Meet the Authors (All 2000 of Them!)
The Postmodern Path to Faith
Threshold One: Trusting a Christian
Threshold Two: Becoming Curious
Threshold Three: Opening Up to Change
Threshold Four: Seeking After God
Threshold Five: Entering the Kingdom
Beyond the Thresholds: Living in the Kingdom
Conclusion: Servant Evangelism


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Don Everts

Don Everts is the senior pastor of First & Calvary Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Missouri, and is a writer for Lutheran Hour Ministries and the Hopeful Neighborhood Project. Don has spent almost three decades helping people on college campuses and in the local church become good stewards of their God-given gifts. Along the way, his wife, Wendy, has been helping Don do the same. His many books include The Reluctant Witness, The Spiritually Vibrant Home, and The Hopeful Neighborhood, all of which feature original research from Barna and biblical insights for our everyday lives.

Doug Schaupp

Doug Schaupp is associate director of evangelism for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. A writer and teacher, he focuses on racial issues, postmodern evangelism, and leadership development. He is based in Los Angeles and graduated from Fuller Seminary. He is the coauthor of I Once Was Lost and Being White.