Sharing the Gospel Through Your Faith Story, Pt. 2
I once had lunch with a highly educated young man who told me, “I’m an atheist and you are a Christian. The difference between you and me is that your life is based on faith and mine is based on facts.” My response: “No, you have as much or more faith as I do, but my faith is in God and your faith is in atheistic evolution.”
When I asked him if he could scientifically prove that the universe was not divinely created and that humans evolved from non-living matter, he admitted that he could not prove these and reluctantly agreed that his worldview was also rooted in faith.
Everybody has faith and everybody has a “faith story.”
Sometimes, we who are Christians, talk about sharing our “testimonies.” If we are specifically talking about sharing our testimonies with unbelievers, we may call them our “evangelistic testimonies.” But the terms “testimony” and “evangelistic testimony” may frighten unbelievers. Whereas most people, even non-Christians, will be receptive to hearing your “story,” even if it is your faith story.
The likelihood of people being receptive to your faith story will increase significantly if its brief (four minutes or less), non-preachy, and logically ordered. The previous article (Part 1 of this two-part series) focused on “Crafting Your Faith Story.” We suggested a couple of formats for a faith story, both of which included:
- The “Before” – Your life before Jesus changed it.
- The “How” – How you came to faith in Jesus Christ.
- The “After” – Your life since you were saved.
Writing, critiquing, tweaking, practicing, tweaking, practicing, re-tweaking, polishing, etc. etc. are important in making your faith story effective. Here are some critique-guidelines for crafting a faith story that unbelievers will listen to, even though the gospel is clearly embedded in the story.
Top Ten Tips for Crafting Your Faith Story
- Make your story sound informal, conversational, and not memorized.
- As much as possible, try to connect your story to what you know about the person with whom you are sharing—life background, pre-Christian concerns, and your faith journey prior to becoming a true believer in Jesus as Savior.
- Avoid sounding “preachy” by keeping it personal and conversational.
- Use “I” and “me” and avoid using “you.” Remember, this is YOUR faith story.
- Even if you were saved as a child, make your story sound grown-up and not childish.
- Avoid dogmatic and mystical statements that might entice the recipient to debate them, especially if he or she is somewhat skeptical.
- Avoid the “happily ever after” ending to your story, implying that the post-Christian life is problem-free.
- Try to keep the story simple. Do not use too many names or details that would make it difficult for the recipient to understand your story.
- Casual humor or other interesting anecdotes are helpful, if they can be woven naturally into your story in a non-distracting manner.
- And maybe the most important of all—avoid religious terms and Christian jargon that you might use freely with other Christians, but that may be unknown to the recipient of your story. Think of ways to express salvation-related truths in common terminology that can be understood by people who are not familiar with the Bible or Christianity or our Christian sub-culture.
Some Don’t and Some Do’s
Don't Use Such Terms as These:
- Born again
- Went forward in church
- Sin or sinner (unless defined in context)
- Accepted Jesus
- Got right with the Lord
- Pray the prayer
- Under the blood
Better to Use Wording Like This:
- Trusted Jesus Christ for my salvation
- Rebelled against God
- Disobeyed God
- Broke/violated God's moral laws
- Placed my complete faith in Jesus
- Told God I have done wrong
- True believer in Jesus Christ
- TRUE Christian
- Accepted God's forgiveness
- God accepted me into His family
Getting into and out of Your Faith Story
In conversations with people whom you think need to hear your faith story, look for opportunities (“entry points”) that make it natural for you to ask permission to share your faith story, something like this: “Would you be interested in hearing my personal faith story?” Or, "Would it be OK if I shared with you the story of how I became a sincere follower of Jesus Christ?"
When you have finished sharing your story, you might ask, “Does that make sense to you?” or “Does that bring up any questions in your mind?”
When you have addressed your friend’s questions, if he or she has some, you might say something like this: “Now, I’d love to hear your personal faith story—would you mind telling me about your spiritual journey?”
If your conversation reveals an interest to know more about Jesus and the gospel, you might ask if he or she would be interested in doing a Bible study together, using The Story of Hope.
Previous articles in this series:
- Three Greek Verbs Define Good Soil
- Assessing Unbeliever’s Gospel Understanding
- Assessing Gospel Receptivity
- Initial Contact or Relational Evangelism—or Both?
- The Problem of Gospel Static
- One Gospel - Three Worldviews
- Worldview “Noisy” Neighborhoods
- How To Understand Worldviews: I’m an Onion – You’re an Onion
- How To Witness to A Non Believer: 3 Step Guide To Using Verbal & Non Verbal Communication
- Gospel Knowledge Deficiencies
- The Romans Road in “Post-Christian” North America?
- Gospel Tracts in “Post-Christian” North America?
- Evangelism that BEGINS with Jesus – Good or Not So Good?
- Explaining the Gospel – Where Did Jesus Begin?
- Change the Way We Do Evangelism in North America?
- Evangelism – For the Biblically Uninformed
- A Distinctive Evangelistic Bible Study Workbook
- How Many Stories in the Bible?
- Eight Words Summarize the Bible’s BIG Story
- Gotta Pray the Sinner’s Prayer?
- Repent and/or Believe? Two Steps or Two Sides?
- Helping Believers “Hold Fast” to the Gospel
- Sharing the Gospel Through Your Faith Story