In the little Baptist church of my youth, nothing was more powerful than the Sunday evening service of testimony, confession, and altar call. On these evenings the room was imbued with a sense of Spirit, of the invisible bursting out into the open. We saw God in bowed heads and in bodies rising. The testimony was never simply one person’s story. It was always a call, an invitation, for everyone to participate in the transformation evident in the life of the one telling the story. It was a call to conversion.

“With every head bowed and every eye closed . . .” The mantra of calling and conviction and hope thickened the air in the room. We would open our eyes to find that two or three people had appeared at the altar, their eyes red and wet, recognizing the ways that their lives had been empty or comprehending that they need not be beaten anymore. In all of these moments, we were witnesses to people being drawn into a life with God and coming to see themselves as beloved and needed.

In the many years since, I have come to see that discipleship is not just one moment of conversion. Following Christ is being subject to conversions, to being opened up again and again. Our life of following means repeatedly discovering the depths and facets of what that first yes meant.