In my book Preaching to Pluralists I describe a change in conversion obstacles which has taken place as Western culture has shifted from Modern to Postmodern.
In the Modern era, the greatest obstacle had to do with the Christian message about Christ as King. If you could win over the hearts of people to the message, getting them to embrace the concept of belonging to the Christian community (here, the Kingdom) was less of a struggle. Thus, the greatest resources were aimed at communicating and enhancing the Christian message. The conversion sequence tended to be 1) believe (in the Christian message), then 2) belong (to the Christian community).
In the Postmodern era, the greatest obstacle has become the Christian community itself. Cynicism and skepticism about the institution of Christianity (the church) is first and foremost in the minds of many. But if you can win over the hearts of people to the Christian community, getting them to believe in Christ as King is less of a struggle. Thus, the greatest resources may need to be aimed at creating ways for outsiders to connect with the Christian community. The conversion sequence may be 1) belong (to the Christian community), then 2) believe (in the Christian message).
What’s your experience been? Similar? Dissimilar?