Simple steps on how to share your stories of faith.
Who loves a good story? I know I do. And the best stories are the ones where we get to know someone better. A surefire way to engage someone is to tell them part of your personal story. Here is one of mine.
I was 14 and attending my first church camp. I was uninterested in God or faith as I did not grow up in the church. My family had just moved to a tiny Arkansas town that did not even have a stoplight. It was a far cry from the suburbs of the Houston I had left behind. I was at church camp because I was invited, and I thought, "Why not?" I had nothing else better to do.
A hell, fire, and brimstone preacher came to speak. Honestly, all he talked about was hell, fire, and brimstone, and it literally scared the hell right out of me, and I accepted Christ that evening. Later the same evening, as I tossed and turned in the top bunk, all I could see were the images of hell, destruction, and death the preacher had spoken about. As an expert insomniac at 14 years old, these images did not help. I was so frightened I crawled out of my bunk and into the bunk of the female youth minister, who was gracious enough to let me sleep beside her.
While literally scaring the hell out of a person can work in terms of sharing our faith, I am going to go out on a limb and say I do not think this is what Jesus had in mind when he said to share our faith with others in Matthew 28:18-20. Sharing stories of how God has changed our lives should be an invitation to a relationship, not an exit strategy from hell.
Simple steps of sharing your faith
1. Live out the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law." (NIV) Why would anyone want to follow God if Christians do not act differently? Or, more importantly, if following God did not make a difference in this challenging world we live in?
2. Make God talk a part of your everyday routine. I work at a religious-affiliated university. It amazes me when I discover a colleague who is a Christian. It amazes me because I rarely hear anyone mention God, faith, the Bible, what they learned in church the past Sunday, or anything of this sort. If God is actually essential in your life, you will talk about it. If someone asks you how your day is going, mention your morning devotional and how it helped you focus for the day or how the message really spoke to an area of your life. You do not have to stand on a tabletop and say, "Excuse me, everyone, excuse me; I am going to talk about God now." Simply incorporate God talk into your everyday conversations, like you would with anything else going on in your life. It should be effortless.
3. Understand the context. Where you are and what you are in the middle of doing matters. I could be much more direct and blunter if I were a guest preacher. I could step on a lot of toes. If I am with a new logic class at the beginning of the semester, I will ease into the discussion of God slowly and over time. And, if I am writing a blog, then I am basically no holds barred. Sometimes launching into how to be saved is what is called for; more often than not, it is a story here, a story there of the beautiful works of God in your life.
4. Ask good questions. Good questions can change circumstances; good questions can change a life. Just look at so many of the stories related to Jesus. The man could ask unbelievable questions that would cut to the heart of the matter. Jesus' questions caused people to examine their actions and relationship with God. They invited personal responses.
5. Trust God to move. Our job is to be a light for God, not to be God. Not that we could even if we tried. Our job is to witness, and God's job is to move in the people's hearts. You may never know what happens to the seeds you plant, but God calls you to plant. Trust God, who loves us more than we could ever imagine, to love the friend, co-worker, son, daughter, or parent. Trust God, who will continue to woo us through prevenient grace long after our words are forgotten.
6. Release. Release the idea of evangelism as a street preacher on a corner harassing walkers passing by. Release the idea of sharing your faith requires a seminary degree. Release the idea you cannot talk about God at work. Release the idea that leading others to Christ is someone else job.
Who taught you about God? Who led you to accept Christ? What if the individual thought it was someone else's job? Where would you be?
Now, look back on your life to the countless individuals who kept pointing you back to the most wonderful and unique God even after you knew Him. I can name names and see faces: Sarah, Lynn, Mabel, Joe, Greg... What if they thought it was someone else's job to help you course correct?
There comes a point when the job is yours and your alone.
This is the last blog in the 6 Spiritual Habits series. If you missed the other blogs in this series, go back and read them as they build upon one another. Feel free to follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, share posts, and comment as you see fit. If you have not signed up for my email list, please do so. I send out bi-monthly newsletters and behind-the-scenes information.