I'm reading through Bob Whitesel's new book, Waypoints, this month, Waypoints. The first post on it is here.
Bob's book has 16 points a person might be on the Christian journey. I strongly prefer not to think of these as the process, which is why Bobby Clinton's rigidly regimented leadership sequence gets on my nerves big time. I don't think Bob means it rigidly either. What I find Bob's book helpful for is to see the kinds of needs a person at a particular point might have and to see the kinds of things that might conceivably get such a person moving in the right direction.
Of course movement is a mysterious mix of grace and free will, so no promises that such tactics will work. Bob's advice certainly makes sense as the kinds of things that might, from a human perspective, facilitate change. And in the mystery of God's will, why wouldn't we try, especially if a person's heart is bent to cooperate with God's grace?
Waypoint 15 (you'll remember his chapters go backward) is "Awareness of a Supreme Being." This is the person who is not an atheist who disbelieves. This is the type of person who has a minimal sense of God or the possibility of God, but they are not at Waypoint 14, where a person has some awareness of the good news.
I like this chapter and we had Wesley Seminary @IWU students read it as part of our missional course. What I like about it is that it sketches out the levels of human needs a person has. A person who is starving is not likely to want to talk to you about theology. Maslow's hierarchy of needs can be sanctified. Bob suggests that unless a person's basic physiological and security needs are met, you will not likely get very far with them talking about God.
Bob suggests research first: 1) live among them, 2) meet in group settings, 3) don't clone someone else's ministry. Then design your ministry: 1) include non-churchgoers int he planning and 2) allocate sufficient money. Finally, connect and evaluate: 1) do a trial run, 2) be a good-doer not a do-gooder (don't give off fake vibes).
Waypoint 14 involves people who have some sense of God but 1) are skeptical or 2) tend to ignore Him. For those who ignore Bob suggests 1) help them to see the seriousness of God's existence, 2) help them picture the future. He backs these things us with several points: 1) injustice and poverty are the result of human activity, 2) humankind was put in charge of the creation, 3) humankind is in charge of caring for the needy, 4) God requires sacrifice.
He closes the chapter with an interview with Ron Sider, who is a good example of someone who balances spiritual with physical concerns.