Praying A Prayer, Raising A Hand, And Sunday Salvations. Can we actually measure getting saved?

The image above is a once in a lifetime shot.
This is what many pastors tell us salvation looks like.
I’m screwed then.
Cause mine didn’t look like that.
Mine looks more like the process of an oak tree growing from seedling to adult.
I feel like the process of my salvation is continuing.
Sure I feel that if I die right now, I’m going to heaven.
But if that is the point of Salvation, then am I done?

Before the theology police pull out their massive weapons…
Hear me out.
I gave my life to Jesus 11 times growing up.
From 8 years old to 21 I walked the isle, raised my hand, or prayed the “prayer” 11 times.
I don’t think it was the first time.
I don’t think it was the last time.
I think it was all the times.
As sure as I am that a prayer can’t save you, I’m also sure that God can.
And does.
It’s just that as I’m teaching my kids about what it means to follow Jesus, heaven and hell hasn’t appeared in the conversation once.
Praying a prayer hasn’t appeared in the conversation once.
Living a lifestyle of obedience and following the ways of Jesus on the other hand, daily.
Am I scared that my kids haven’t had the eject out of airplane moment yet?
Not at all.
I think it can look like that.
But I think it is not the norm.
And we need to be careful to not measure Sunday Salvations with hands raised…
And instead measure Sunday Salvations with communities changed.
Numbers are important.
Numbers are People, Souls, Heartbeats.
But if nothing is changing inside the heartbeat of your church and community because prayers were prayed…
Maybe it’s time for a new measurement.



Author loswhit

More posts by loswhit
  • tymm

    After sitting through Secret Church on Good friday I was re-energized with an urgency about eternity and heaven and hell. Jesus spoke of it – so my conversations with my kids about Jesus almost always involve heaven and sometimes hell. Their brother is in Heaven so they talk to me about it more than I do them (they miss him and wanna see him)…

    I think as parents we just need to be super careful about staying biblical and not social when it comes to that stuff. Otherwise we risk raising kids who find themselves at some point in their life – at the funeral of a friend who wasn’t a believer – saying things like “He/She is in a better place…” and actually believing that.

  • Jake

    I completely agree with you. It is a process more than just a prayer. However, at what point do you stop going down the aisle asking for salvation? What is your opinion of Hebrews 6:4-8?

  • I’m really digging your site. I started my blog,, a couple of months ago and have been wrestling with the idea of finding a “niche,” and recently God hit me hard with a reminder that if, just like everything else I do, the blog isn’t aimed at glorifying Him, then I shouldn’t be doing it.

    In relation to this post, I’ve personally served on the staff of some of the fastest growing churches in America, most of which are big into the three things mentioned in the title of this post. At the end of the day, you are absolutely correct… though many churches are being run like corporations, the measurement (or metric) of genuine salvation is transformation, not digits on a spreadsheet.

    The perspective I’ve grown to take on is that salvation truly is a process. I believe at some point we do make the decision to become followers of Christ, but that’s just the beginning. From there everyday requires the faith and persistence to make choices that reflect Christ.

  • amen brutha! I’m right there with ya. show me a community that lives by actions not lip service. show me a people hungry to be with Jesus. numbers < lifechange

  • Michael E

    Agreed! We focus so much on the salvation part of faith and very little on the sanctification. I think that’s what you’re talking about here.

    I grew up in church and, like many who did, gave my life to Christ when I was young. Then I “re-dedicated” and “re-dedicated” and “re-dedicated” and finally got baptized and probably “re-dedicated” again. And even then I was still always learning more and more about my faith. I still am today!

    One and done is a bad out look. We gotta look at the sanctification process, and put a little more emphasis on that.

  • Jay

    I care a lot less about how much we are skewing our numbers then if we are giving people the wrong idea about what a relationship with Jesus looks like. Imagine if Jesus called Peter and told him he could be a disciple, Peter then accepted and Jesus just left him there to figure the rest of it out himself. Discipleship and evangelism are 2 sides to the same coin and i hope we are as worried about these people after they raise their hand as we were before or there will be a lot of surprised people one day…

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matt 7:21-23

  • Today most evangelicals tell converts to say a prayer, but really we should be baptizing new converts. They should be going through catechism to learn about the faith and be confirmed in it. They should have the space to ask questions and wrestle with issues. You’re right, it isn’t about a destination. God wants to give us new life right now and physical resurrection later. It’s about being a part of the kingdom now and dealing with that. Prayers should certainly be a part of conversion, but the measurement to determine if you’re in the family of God has always been baptism.

  • Laura Price

    This is an awesome post. I used to feel that because I didn’t have this ‘boom’ moment, I wasn’t really saved. I used to try and pin point a moment where I was saved but, alas, I can’t find one. And that’s cool. I think Jesus just smiles at me when I try and find that moment cos He knows where it was…and probably where it has been many times…and where it will be in the future. It’s about the everyday decision. It’s about growing more in Him and pursuing Him each day. I guess it’s about the journey, not just the destination. God’s got room for that.

  • Most pastors of a certain persuasion. Us Methodists are in your camp. Promise!

  • Pingback: Praying A Prayer, Raising A Hand, And Sunday Salvations. Can we actually measure getting saved? | Pastor Leaders()

  • But how can we tell which church is doing the best job of being the coolest/hippest/most effective in the city without a number to throw out on the church website/twitter/facebook?

  • Stan Addson

    Los, I totally agree. I feel like the story of my salvation didn’t come in one mind blasting instant, but through a series of events and turning points. Like you said, more of a slow growing tree than a crash landing. I remember, a friend of mine from church, who was Atheist before he found Christ expressed the same thing. He kept hearing people talking about their ‘eject from plane’ moments of salvation, but for him, he felt his was a process. That just caused him to believe that he really wasn’t saved because he didn’t have that explosive moment. In the end, we were able to sit down with him at a coffee shop and explained to him that being saved is trusting Jesus with your whole life and making him the number priority above everything else. He was super happy to finally understand. Probably one of the best moments I could ever share with someone.

    Sorry, I wrote a lot. But your post really reminded me of that. Thanks again. I hope you can check out my blog sometime. I’m trying to compile a series of memoirs about my journey as a church-planter in Seattle.

    Thanks again, Los! Looking forward to your next post.


  • Ann

    Salvation is ongoing. We’re all works in progress, otherwise why would Paul have said to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? My prayer is to get closer to God every day.

  • I like the analogy of the pulled chute. I always called it the “wow” moment. It’s that moment it clicks in your brain that you need Jesus. I said the same prayer, the same number of times, and I could never recall my “wow” moment. So, I always thought maybe Jesus viewed my salvation, and me in general, different than those who could pinpoint their “wow” moment. Then I realized my “wow” looked more like, “wooooooooooooooow”. My “wow” just took place over a longer period of time, and that’s ok. The “wow” is on going, but it’s better that way. It’s also helped me not to move my kids toward a moment in time where they’re saved, and to focus on the more intentional part of being saved & following Jesus. Great post.

  • prophetsandpopstars

    I feel you, my brother! In the 90’s my wife and I used to take students to a predominant Southern California church camp and this lazy, weaponized approach to getting kids saved was unleashed every summer. There was a actually a guy that told the story of watching an AirForce show in Germany and going to the bath room right before a plane went down into the crowd. His salvation emphasis made me give my life to Jesus again.

    I gave my life to Jesus all the time. I was afraid that the power of “the prayer” would wear off. I got hip though. After I realized that I didn’t need to go up anymore…I just received Jesus again in my seat, looking on like I wasn’t scared to eternal life.

    Ah…good times.

  • Los-you just sound like a good Wesleyan. I’ll claim you any day.

  • Troy Burbank

    Amen brother. Preach it my friend.

  • Now that we have heard you out… Can the theology police start talking? 🙂

    And your kids are how old? And they have never once asked where people go when they die? Both ones that follow Jesus and ones that don’t?