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Tag: Salvation Testimony

Evangelical Salvation: The 4/14 Window

age when evangelicals become christians

My friend Gary recently mentioned a National Association Evangelical (NAE) article about when Americans become born-again (Evangelical) Christians. Here’s what the NAE post had to say:

Thirteen is the average age that members of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) became Christians, according to the NAE’s (2015) spring poll. The median age when NAE members became Christians is 11.

Evangelicals believe that salvation is made possible through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Each person is invited to accept God’s forgiveness, which is freely offered to all who believe.

The majority of the respondents (63 percent) accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord while they were 4-14 years old, in what is known as the 4/14 Window.

The 4/14 Window describes the opportunity for evangelization within the 4-14 age range, suggesting that most people who become Christians do so during those ages. A 2004 Barna Group study indicated that nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their Savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43 percent), and that two out of three born again Christians (64 percent) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.

Responses of the NAE Asks You poll ranged from six weeks old to 50 years old. The NAE member with the six-week old conversion noted that his tradition holds to baptismal regeneration, which links salvation to the rite of baptism. The person who came to Christ at 50 was also baptized as an infant, but said that he fell away for many years, became a Christian later in life, and now serves as a pastor.

While the poll revealed a few denominational distinctives regarding salvation, comments provided by NAE members demonstrated the unique ways in which individuals come to saving faith. Some became Christians through the ministry of the Good News Club, InterVarsity, Vacation Bible Schools and revivals. Several people identified the specific place of their conversion from the kitchen table or grandmother’s home to the campfire of a Christian camp or altar of a local church. Many noted the family member, pastor or friend who led them to the Lord. And there are some who can not recall a specific date or place, echoing one respondent: “I can’t remember a time in my life where I did not identify as a Christian.”

Most Evangelicals make salvation decisions between the ages of 4 and 14. Astoundingly, 98% of Evangelicals asked Jesus to save them before the age of 30. In other words, “we must get them while they are young, or we won’t get them at all.” This is why Evangelical churches have Sunday schools, youth programs, children’s churches, vacation Bible schools, and sundry other programs used to “hook” salvation prospects while they are young. The older a person becomes, the more likely it is that they will not get saved; that they will reject in part or out of hand the claims made by Evangelical sects, pastors, and parents. Once children reach their teenage years, it becomes increasingly hard to evangelize them. Why? They can think for themselves. They are developing critical thinking skills. They are more skeptical about the religious claims made by their pastors and parents.

Are you a former Evangelical? Or a current one, for that matter? At what age did you first profess faith in Jesus? Did you have multiple salvation experiences? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

Bruce Gerencser, 63, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 42 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen awesome grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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My Baptist Salvation Experience

bruce gerencser 1971
Bruce Gerencser, Ninth Grade, 1971-72

Over the past twelve years, I have received countless emails from Evangelicals wanting me to share with them my salvation testimony. Some of these interlocutors sincerely want to understand my past and how it is I became an atheist. Others are looking for discrepancies or errors — from their theological perspective, anyway — in my testimony. Finding these glosses allows them to dismiss my story out of hand, saying, Bruce, you never were a Christian. I used to take great offense when Evangelical zealots dismissed my past life of love, faith, and devotion to Jesus, but I no longer do so. I now realize that many Evangelicals must neuter my story lest it force them to consider and answer uncomfortable questions about their own lives and theology. It’s far easier to just dismiss me out of hand, saying that I never was a Christian; that I was deceived, a false prophet, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or any of the other epithets Evangelicals throw my way. I have never said to a Christian, I don’t believe your testimony of saving faith. I accept what they tell me at face value. You say you are a Christian; that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? Who am I to doubt your story? Unfortunately, many Evangelicals don’t seem similarly inclined when it comes to my story or those of other Evangelicals-turned-atheists.

What follows my Baptist salvation testimony. Instead of writing out my testimony every time some asks me for it, I will now send them to this post.

I was raised in the Evangelical church. My parents were saved in the early 1960s at Scott Memorial Baptist Church (now Shadow Mountain Community Church)  in El Cajon, California, pastored at the time by Tim LaHaye. From that time forward, the Gerencser family attended Evangelical churches — mostly Bible Southern Baptist,  or Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) congregations.

evangelist al lacy
Evangelist Al Lacy

In the spring of 1972, my parents divorced after 15 years of marriage. Both of my parents remarried several months later. While my parents and their new spouses, along with my brother and sister, stopped attending church, I continued to attend Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio. In the fall of 1972, a high-powered IFB evangelist named Al Lacy came to Trinity to hold a week-long revival meeting. One night, as I sat in the meeting with my friends, I felt deep conviction over my sins while the evangelist preached. I tried to push aside the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart, but when the evangelist gave the invitation, I knew that I needed to go forward. I knew that I was a wretched sinner in need of salvation. (Romans 3) I knew that I was headed for Hell and that Jesus, the resurrected son of God, was the only person who could save me from my sin. I knelt at the altar and asked Jesus to forgive me of my sin and save me. I put my faith and trust in Jesus, that he alone was my Lord and Savior. (That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamedRomans 10:9-11)

I got up from the altar a changed person. I had no doubt that I was a new creation, old things had passed away, and all things had become new.  (Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

The next Sunday, I was baptized, and several weeks later I stood before the church and declared that I believed God was calling me to preach. For the next thirty-five years, I lived a life committed to following after Jesus and the teachings of the Bible. While I failed many times as a Christian, there was never a time where I doubted that Jesus was my Lord and Savior. I loved him with all my heart, soul, and mind, and my heart burned with the desire to preach and teach the Word of God, evangelize the lost, and help Christians mature in their faith. No one doubted that I was a Christian. Not my Christian family; not my Christian friends; not my colleagues in the ministry; not the people who lovingly called me preacher. I was, in every way, a devoted Christian husband, father, and pastor. As all Christians do, I sinned in thought, word, and deed, but when I did, I confessed my sin to the Lord and asked for his forgiveness. (If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)  And then I got up from my knees and strived to make my calling and election sure. (Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. (2 Peter 1:10)

This is my testimony.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.