Are You In or Are You Out? Part 2: Colouring In Between the Lines

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by bondidwhat)

Yesterday, I threw out the question of how to determine whether someone is “in” or someone is “out” for conversation. How do we know if someone is actually saved, or not? Go ahead! Take a few minutes and answer that question. What would you write down?

Here are some things I come up with:


  • put faith in Christ
  • talks to God (prays)
  • goes to church or is part of some faith community
  • reads the Bible
  • follows God’s ways or laws
  • seeks out ways to grow closer to God

I’m sure you probably came up up with similar things… maybe more, maybe less, maybe rewording some of the stuff…

When we come up with a list to define salvation, that is called a Bounded Set. You have a set definition or criteria for what it means to be a Christ-follower, and as long as you stay within the bounds of that set of criteria then you are “in.” Another way to put is if you were to draw a box that represents being a Christian, as long as you colour in between the lines then you are “in.” The term Bounded Set is borrowed from mathematics.

Most of us evaluate someone being a Christ follower using a Bounded Set mentality. It is nice, clean and easy. Then we use those criteria to help children understand what it means to surrender their lives to Christ.

I’m not going to say a Bounded Set paradigm is wrong. I do think it is incomplete, though. I also think that it can lead to legalism and spiritual pride.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at a hybrid of two approaches that I think offer us a more complete way of understanding whether someone is “in” or “out.”

What do you think?

Do you agree or disagree that a Bounded Set framework is incomplete?

How would you explain whether someone is “in” or “out?”



2 thoughts on “Are You In or Are You Out? Part 2: Colouring In Between the Lines

  1. […] criteria we use to determine whether someone is “in” or “out.” Yesterday, we looked at a bounded set of evaluating whether someone makes the cut or not when it comes to being considered a Christ […]

  2. […] bounded sets when evaluating what it means to follow Christ. You can read the posts here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part […]

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