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Conversion: How God Creates a People

(9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)

4.56  ·  Rating details ·  383 ratings  ·  80 reviews

Does what a church believes about how people become Christians change how we do evangelism? In this concise book, Michael Lawrence explains the doctrine of conversion and helps us consider the relationship between what we believe about how people are saved and our approach to sharing the gospel in the context of the local church. Readers of this book will understand how th

Hardcover, 144 pages
Published June 30th 2017 by Crossway Books (first published June 2017)
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Oct 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just phenomenal.
Ben Robin
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This just might be the best book in this series. Lawrence beautifully weaves together all the threads of local church theology and practice in a typical 9Marks fashion. I highly recommend this excellent book on such an important and relevant topic!
Matt Tyler
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, 2017
UPDATE: I just read this again in order to lead my church through a discussion of it and decided to upgrade it to 5 stars. I’ve found that this book has really influenced my preaching and discipling over the last year or so. I’ve also found it useful in membership interviews as people have described their understanding of the gospel and their testimonies. A great and important book.

Michael Lawrence has written a needed corrective for the western church. The Bible's description of conversion imp
Josh Miller
Jan 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
The introduction to this book captured my attention right away. Why? Because it is a story I have heard shared all too often by Christians that I have both read of and know personally. Here is part of the introduction:

"Recently I was talking to one of my friends about his two adult kids. He's worried about them. They're not into drugs or partying. They both have healthy, warm relationships with their parents and peers. They went to excellent universities and excelled. They're athletic, ambitious
First sentence from chapter one: In the introduction, I mentioned my friend who was concerned that his well-mannered adult children weren’t really Christians. You might say they were nice, but not new—not new creations. His experience raises questions about the doctrine of conversion, as well as what that doctrine should look like in the life of a church. It’s crucial to get both our doctrine and our practices right. Churches should believe that God makes people radically new, not just nice, thr ...more
Sydney Levi
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Short, convicting and to the point! One of the best books I’ve ever read. Walking down an aisle at church alone to “get saved” doesn’t save anyone from sin.

Repent from sin, believe Jesus died on the cross and rose again. There is a family of believers, the church, ready to live life with you.
Jeremiah von Kühn
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Agree with David Wells -- "Down-to-earth, clear, practical, straight shooting, biblically cogent treatment of the nature and necessity of conversion. This is an excellent book." Love how he shows how our theology of conversion drives (or ought to drive) practice. Especially enjoyed chapter 6 (Summon, don't sell: implications for our evangelism) and chapter 8 (Charitable, not chary: the danger of an overly pure church). Chapter 8 was refreshing, especially coming from 9Marks, as some of their guy ...more
Sam Knecht
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Conversion is often misunderstood, assumed, or ignored. Yet it is the one and only means by which God makes a people for himself, by which Christ builds his church. Not grasping a biblical understanding of conversion can lead churches to counterintuitive--even harmful--practices.

This book from Michael Lawrence is full of both hard, solid doctrine and soft, messy pastoral application. A wide range of Christians can glean benefits from these 130 pages.
Chris Mandt
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I appreciated hearing the role that the church plays in the conversion of believers. I especially enjoyed the sections on assurance, evangelism and the section on being charitable to those professing faith and repenting of sin. Would recommend to anyone wanting to think through conversion and the church in this short book.
Grant Fawcett
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Without question, this little book should be read by anyone engaged in evangelism or Christian ministry of any kind. It is gentle but remains Biblically faithful and challenging.
Tom Depew
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! Highly recommend
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Conversion: How God Creates a People”, by Dr. Michael Lawrence, pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, Oregon, is one book in the 9Marks series of “Building Healthy Churches”.

I selected to review this book because I’m also reading another book about conversion at the time, and I know these series of books are relatively short, quick reads. That is true of this book, but it is packed full of hard-hitting truth in relatively a brief introduction, 8 chapters, and conclusion.

As the title sugg
Brian Pate
Sep 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theo-soteriology
Excellent!! Well written. Helpful application aimed at modern misconceptions. Good implications for church life and evangelism.

Read in preparation to teach on "Conversion" for Sunday School at IBJM, Sep 29 2019.
Hannah Costas
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read!!! I am so encouraged by the way this book challenges churches to think carefully and critically about conversion. The Christian life is not someone who just prayed “the prayer” at 5 years old or in Sunday school and moved on with their life, comfortably in their sin. The Christian life is someone who’s made totally new- you were DEAD in your sins and through the blood of Christ, you are made totally new when you repent and TURN from your sin and believe. This regenerati ...more
Randy Corn
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Conversion: How God Creates a People by Michael Lawrence, Crossway, 2017, 128 pages

This is another of the 9 Marks books that are intended to help busy pastors think about important topics. As the title suggests the topic is conversion but rather than discussing all of the theology attached to that topic, Lawrence gives a biblical and practical discussion. He is not anti-theology, that is just not his focus. He will typically use a passage of Scripture or perhaps a whole book of the Bible to illu
Mark Donald
Sep 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Biblical conversion is an incredibly important doctrine, which is massively misunderstood, and essential to faithful evangelistic efforts and church life. Michael Lawrence helps clarify a lot of misunderstandings which have plagued churches (perhaps especially in the West). In addition to helping clarify the biblical teaching on being born again, Michael Lawrence helps connect a right understanding of conversion with evangelistic methods and church membership practices. This little book has give ...more
Joshua Lister
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was ok
This rating is really closer to a 2.5. Parts of this book were really good and other parts really bad. Chapter 2, chapter 6, and the conclusion are particularly good sections. Here, Lawrence makes some helpful distinctions along with some shrewd observations about the modern evangelical climate.

Although, some passages were mixed up. Lawrence has no category for covenantal Christians who are either apostate or unregenerate. He consequently struggles to resolve certain tensions that arise in his
Brian Parks
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very good, short survey and explanation of the doctrine of conversion and how it should be understood as impacting not only individuals but also the life and health of the local church. Lawrence does a good job explaining it in simple terms. This book would help any pastor or lay person grow in their faith and discernment. One minor quibble is that the book assumed that the reader might be coming at the issue from a evangelical fundamentalist point of view. (He's probably right in tha ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Right down to the subtitle "How God creates a people" this book presents Biblical truth for the church in such an accessible way, and very much in the form of Jesus, Lawrence ferociously vies for the truth in a way that exhibits gentleness and does not wound ones who are not enemies.

This book unearths what Scripture was attempting to do in laying out a process for people to be converted into a church that is uniform in belief. Those beliefs become the tether of our testimony for Jesus, and many
Jon Pentecost
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The need to be born again is at the heart of Jesus' teaching, and yet so often we fail to seriously consider how this should impact the way we engage with fellow Christians and the church.
Lawrence helpfully walks us through the need for conversion, the nature of conversion, what a converted person should look like in ways that will help any believer grow in their faith. His concluding chapters, on charity towards those professing faith imperfectly, and on the implications of this for our life an
Adrian Cole
Dec 17, 2020 rated it liked it
If I could go 3.5 stars I would. Lawrence does a nice job uncovering some of the devious ways in which people think they are Christians but are actually not. Whether it's through the pursuit of felt needs or falsely leaning on a long past "decision for Christ" the author exposes what true conversion looks like versus false confessions and how to see the difference in people's lives. Lawrence actually spends a little too much emphasis on relying on decisions and misses an opportunity to more full ...more
Will Pareja
If you, fellow church members or leaders are confused about the response to the Gospel (conversion), then this brief book will help you.

For some it will be properly disturbing. And hopefully life saving.

Get a few copies and give them out to people who need to rethink their easy- believism or decisionism ways. Or, give them to people who could bone up on an already good theology of saving faith and assurance.

"Real repentance is being convicted by the Holy Spirit of the sinfulness of our sin— n
Joshua Reichard
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Over and over again 9Marks hits the nail on the head! This book on conversion will transform the way you view the churches role in conversion, the individuals role in conversation, and God’s role in conversation. Let me bless you with a few quotes and thoughts from this fantastic book. First, conversation is the turning from worshiping something to worship in God. “I don’t know I am alive because I have a birth certificate. I know I am alive because I am breathing.” That quote is in reference to ...more
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is another in the series by IX Marks and is an excellent little book on understanding what happens when a person goes from true death to true life. Lawrence defends regeneration as the true mark of a believer. Based out of his own story of insecurity in the Christian life and his discovery of what marks a true believer, the book is filled with personal stories and scripture to back it up. One warning is appropriate. The book denies doing so, but it seems that Lawrence at times leans towards ...more
Elijah Abanto
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"God chooses and God saves. Conversion is his work. And yet he uses means to accomplish his predetermined ends. One of those means is the local church. We give witness to the gospel with our words. Then we make those words plausible with our lives. For God, for ourselves, and for the world, it matters that we get this doctrine right, and that we work it out faithfully in the life of the church."

Thank you Lord for this book! We need churches that are biblical and clear on the subject of conversio
Doug Connell
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Book Recommendation #8
As a father and a pastor, I've never been more challenged by a singular book; Lawrence - using the Scriptures - explains what the Gospel and what it is not AND THEREFORE why conversion itself is such a crucial doctrine to understand. Read it. Test it by the Word. And apply it. ...even better - read it with others and pray for all the ones in your sphere of influence who are not evidencing signs of true conversion. Pray for opportunities to show them the truth of God's Word
Feb 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very accessible word on a theology of conversion. Too many pastors & churches have a weak understanding and application of what it means to be converted and what true conversion necessarily produces in the life of a Christian. Additionally, Lawrence brings balance to this issue by also writing about how Christians should give charity concerning the authenticity of people's conversion, citing Paul's words in 1 Corinthians and the myriad of issues going on in this church AND yet, he than ...more
Jeff Short
This book is an excellent, brief treatment of the subject. Christians in general wobble between extremes on what conversion is and does in the life of a convert. Michael Lawrence speaks clearly on repentance, faith, change of life, holiness, etc. He treats conversion as the life and death matter it truly is. Lawrence also places conversion in the context of the local church, which is rarely done.

The author has called us to a clearer presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the cost of dis
Devraj Urs
May 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The church is filled with non-Christians who think they are Christians. The effects are horrifying. This book identifies many root problems within the church AND it offers a vision for what the church can be, if it were filled with genuine Christians. Be careful if you read this book, it might uncover some deep-seated idols in your heart. What do you mean “being nice” will not earn me favor with God? Wait a second, you’re telling me that true conversion affects more than my relationship with God ...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

MICHAEL LAWRENCE is senior pastor of Hinson Baptist Church in Portland, OR. He earned a PhD in church history from Cambridge University and an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He previously served as associate pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church with Mark Dever. In addition to his books, he's con

Other books in the series

9Marks: Building Healthy Churches (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • Church Membership: How the World Knows Who Represents Jesus
  • Church Discipline: How the Church Protects the Name of Jesus
  • Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus
  • Expositional Preaching: How We Speak God's Word Today
  • Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God
  • The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ
  • Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus (9Marks: Building Healthy Churches)
  • Discipling: How to Help Others Follow Jesus
  • Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global
  • Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church (9marks: Building Healthy Churches)

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126 likes · 46 comments
“The Spirit doesn’t simply make me a singular new creation. He makes me part of God’s new creation people. He inscribes God’s rule on my heart, teaching me about love for neighbor and love for my brothers and sisters in Christ especially. He teaches me that my life with God includes a life with God’s people, in the corporate worship and common life of the church. This is why John can say that you’re a liar if you claim to love God but don’t love your brother (1 John 4:20). Or why Paul can say that we, Jew and Gentile, have already been made one new man (Eph. 2:13–16). Regeneration gives us a heart not only for God, but also for God’s people.” 0 likes
“From the garden, to Abraham and his descendants, to Israel, to the church, to the New Jerusalem, God has always worked to save a people for his Son.” 0 likes
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