When are people MOST receptive to Christ?

Charles Arn writes:

“How do we identify the receptive people in our community?”

One proven way is through life events.  Or, more specifically, transitional life events.  Here is the principle: The more disruptive a life event is to a person’s psychological equilibrium, the more it will cause him/her to be spiritually receptive.

The “Social Readjustment Scale” below was originally developed by two cardiology researchers at the University of Washington Medical Center.  The events were identified as precipitators of a heart attack.  (The numbers to the right are the relative severity of the event, from 1-100.)  I, and other researchers, have found that these same events are also excellent indicators of a person’s openness (receptivity) to Christian conversion.  Put simply, people who rate high on this Scale will be more receptive to repentance and conversion than those who rate lower.  And, when multiple events occur, in relative proximity, receptivity increases even more.


As you think and pray about responding to Christ’s command to “…go and make disciples,” use this “Stress Scale” as one way to begin identifying the people in your community whom the Holy Spirit may be preparing to invite into the Kingdom—through you and your church.  Creative, caring, genuine, need-meeting Christian love—at these times when people are most receptive—will bring great fruit.  Watch… listen…be sensitive to these windows of opportunity… and then be ready to “give witness to the hope that is within you” 
(I Pe. 3:15).

A great challenge.

Read more from Charles here…


  • Rev. Robert Barnes May 24, 2013 Reply

    I believe this strategy has flatly unbiblical presuppositions behind it and thus promotes something that is not biblical conversion.

    That doesn’t mean I have anything against Dr. Arn or thinking carefully about evangelism. I have respect for the years of ministry and thought he’s put into helping men and women serve God. But let me get to the point.

    1) Going through the article by Dr. Arn, you may (and many have) substituted a decision for Christ with a decision for root beer, or insurance, or gold. This simply a sales technique, a strategy, used in sales around the world. It is not biblical.

    2) This ignores the fact that God and his choice, not (in this case weakened by trauma and stress) human choice is behind our conversion. Election, calling and regeneration, all God-centered events preceding conversion, are critical to an authentic choice to believe all Christ’s promises and follow him. Evangelism that does not embrace the sovereignty of God is bound to go amiss.

    3) It is not even wise to sell people Jesus as something to make your trauma better–that’s setting them up to reject a false promise of a false gospel. This is creating people who are bitter, people who grabbed on to Jesus in their darkest hour, upon the promise that he would make it better, when in fact, Jesus does not always make it better. Emotionally, existentially, sometimes he makes it worse. He will bring a sword to your family, a division in your church, and a burden for the lost.

    4) It glorifies manipulative, emotion-based evangelism. To choose someone who is weak, faltering, and unsteady, and pressure them to make a decision for Christ is what a manipulator does–whatever they are offering. There’s a reason why when I was a hospital chaplain I did not press people to conversion. It’s manipulative to take someone in a hospital bed, oxygen deprived, high on drugs, waiting for what may be the final surgery of their life, and command them to trust Jesus or else. At that point, they would trust Larry Boy as their Lord and Savior, especially if I’m good at manipulation.

    This is brief, but I hope you see my point. I pray that we will share the gospel in a variety of ways, to a variety of people, and not decide with human social sciences who gets the gospel and who does not. As the people of God, we should be generous with the gospel, not rationalizing its rationing.

  • Bud Brown May 28, 2013 Reply

    I’m reminded of Jesus’ about the bewildered farmer. He plants, the crop grows and he’s clueless as to how it happened.

    People are most likely to receive Christ when the Holy Spirit strikes. Who knows when that is?

  • Mark Ualls May 31, 2013 Reply

    I agree fully that it is the life changing events that not only make people receptive, but actually have them seeking out spirituality. I see a time in the not too distant future when the downward spiral society is in will have churches filling up again. Like a whirlpool sucking everyone and everything down into the dark depths of an abyss, the decay of social norms and the increased focus on materialism it going to push many to despair, then to seek an alternative lifestyle. Some will turn to the church, many will sink further into the abyss.

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