Counting the God Encounters


If you’re a geezer, too, then then you remember the old Tootsie Pop commercial that first ran in the ’70s. Can't someone answer the poor kid's question?You know, “How many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Pop?”

Believe it or not, I saw that commercial on TV just a couple years back, so Tootsie is still running it. I guess the question goes unanswered.

For the Christian, the question might be transmogrified into “How many encounters with God does it take until someone is born again?”

My former pastor, Steve Sjogren, says the number is between 15 and 25. I can’t quote you Steve’s source, but some have mentioned the Engel Scale as a starting point for this number. Given how much Steve has invested over the years in this issue of evangelizing the lost, I don’t doubt his numbers.

That said, without a context, the numbers don’t mean much. You can toss a hundred questions at them, such as

1. What constitutes an encounter with God?

2. Do these numbers represent just the West? Or do they account for other parts of the world?

3. Do the numbers take into account the kind of Christian these “prebelievers” may be encountering?

I’m sure you can add to the list.

Buried in that #3 question is the most interesting question of them all:

How can we Christians reduce the number of those encounters before someone is born again?

I ask that because my personal belief is that it only takes one deep encounter with God for someone to repent and come to salvation. That’s the best case scenario.

I also believe that each encounter that doesn’t lead to being born again only runs the risk of inoculating someone against God. Everything else that follows after “a miss” represents the possibility that someone will never be born again.

Before we go any further, I want to talk about a rathole.

You and I don’t know who will be saved and who won’t be. That’s God’s territory. He knows who is predestined for glory and who is not. What He asks of us is that we do the work of evangelism and discipling and let Him bring the results.

With that out of the way, I want to ask:

Do you believe such a reduction in the number of encounters someone needs before they are justified is possible? How might we reduce the number of encounters it takes for a lost person to come to Christ?

I think that 15-25 encounters is too high. What do you think?