What happens when someone changes their beliefs…converts to a new religion? It is so easy to focus on what they gain when someone becomes a Christian (community, forgiveness, salvation, etc) but what can we learn about evangelism through understanding the psychological processes of grief and loss.
Kubler-Ross gave us the Five Stages of Grief and it just so happens these don’t only work with grief of the death of a loved one but on any kind of significant loss.
What does someone lose when they convert to Christianity? A variety of things are possible: their worldview/way of making sense of the world, family, friends, their former “rightness”, etc.
Here is the issue with evangelism that gets us all messed up – we have to learn the process to respect the process and identify it as it is happening to better help the person we are discipling. We want them to go from step 1 (denial) to step 5 (acceptance) in 1 step. Sorry. It takes 5 steps, not 1! Once you understand that, you are that much closer to really helping someone by walking alongside them through the grieving process.
The steps include: denial (Christianity can’t be right), anger (how could I have been so fooled), depression (I don’t know how to move forward), bargaining (looking for a way back to what you believed or a way forward into new belief), and finally acceptance.
If you want more explanation you can find it here.