Since taking on the leadership of the Institute of Evangelism, I’ve noticed that many churches continue to need help equipping Christians to share the faith with their family, friends, neighbours and colleagues. People often simply don’t know where to begin, and church leaders aren’t sure how to help them. This month I want to share a very practical and simple five-movement framework that Christians can use to share their faith whenever opportunities arise.
An Equipping Event
Why not create an ‘equipping event’ this fall or winter during which you help your church members become more comfortable sharing their own story of faith with each other? Some people will already be comfortable doing this. For others it may be the first time they’ve shared their fair story with anyone. At the very least you’ll be strengthening people’s knowledge of each other, and hopefully, this exercise will also help them share the faith with unchurched and dechurched people they interact with in their everyday lives.
This simple equipping exercise is a way to get people thinking about, and then telling others, how they came to faith, and inviting others to explore the Christian faith for themselves. Please feel free to adapt it to the needs of your particular congregation.
Get Comfortable Telling Your Story of Faith
Sharing the story of how you came to faith is one of the best gifts you can give to someone. It’s often the most non-threatening way to help them take a step themselves towards becoming a Christian or renewing their faith as a Christian. You don’t need to know the answer to every philosophical, biblical or theological question. You just need to get comfortable telling your own story.
To pull your thoughts together, it may help you to jot down some points for each of the five ‘movements’ of the story of your journey with God. Take 10 minutes to do this. Don’t overthink it. Just tell it like it happened.
Once you’ve jotted down some key points, find a partner to share your story with. Describe your own story, in everyday language, using the following five movements.
The Five Movements of Your Story
- Before …
Describe a time when faith really wasn’t a part of your life. (e.g. “Growing up . . . back in high school . . . university . . . after I started working . . . before my sister got sick . . . when our son died.)
- The problem …
Describe what was keeping you from having a close relationship with God. (e.g. “I just thought religion was about following a lot of rules.” “I was looking for something spiritual but wanted to go it alone.” “I was living with this heavy burden …” “I really didn’t know who Jesus was.” “I was lacking any real meaning & purpose.” “I didn’t know what to do with the anger I felt.”, “I was afraid of . . .”, I was frankly too focused on myself and my career to care much about what I really believed.”)
- Then a change ….
Describe how you encountered the Living God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit. (e.g. “I discovered this community of intriguing Christians . . . “I experienced God’s presence, although I couldn’t explain it . . . “I felt loved for the first time.”, “The message of Christianity seemed so deeply true.”, “I experienced forgiveness.”, “I let go of the anger.”, “I experienced healing.”, “I started thinking about who and what I really was, and felt God was trying to get my attention”, “I had a dream that got me thinking about Jesus”, “I realized my life was going in a bad direction and a friend pointed me towards faith.”)
Describe what your life is like today. How has your faith shaped you? How does it continue to shape you? (e.g. “My life is not perfect, but I am much less [fill in the blank] than I used to be.” “Jesus is teaching me to . . .”, “My faith has brought a new way of life”, “I am not as afraid of death now.”, “For the first time, I know I’m valued.”, “The more I learn about Jesus the more compelling I find him.”, “God now gives me the strength to get through all the stuff life throws at me.”)
- An invitation ….
What invitation can you suggest? (e.g. “How about you – would you be interested in taking an adult look at Jesus for yourself? I’d love to explore that together.”, “How about you – have you ever simply asked God to reveal Himself to you? I’d love to ask Him about that with you.” “Have you ever thought about exploring the story of the Bible, or the accounts of Jesus’ life? I’d love to meet over coffee to do that together.”, “Have you ever thought about trying out church? I could pick you up this week and introduce you to some of my friends there.”)
After You Shared Your Story
Switch speaking/listening roles with your partner and hear how they came to faith. Then, team up with another pair of people and take turns hearing all four of your stories.
Conclude the equipping exercise by asking people to be quiet for a few moments and ask God to bring to mind people in their lives who need to know Him more personally. Perhaps a grandson, a neighbor, a colleague at work, a friend, or a daughter. Then lead the whole group in a prayer that God would open up opportunities during the coming weeks for them to share their story of faith with those people. Finally, encourage them to begin each day with a short prayer asking God to help them know who to share their story with and for the courage to do so.
To further help your church become more comfortable sharing their stories of faith with each other and with people outside the church community, you could include some of these stories during your worship services. While not everyone will have the confidence to speak in front of a larger group, some will. This will demonstrate visibly to the whole church that talking about faith isn’t just something clergy do. Evangelism is the simple sharing of what we’ve come to know about the Living God, made known to us in Jesus Christ. To have people share that as part of worship of God normalizes that evangelism is not something for the few, but is for everyone.
 Based on a model by Shirley Kitchen, Integrative Assignment in the course Evangelism Remixed, Wycliffe College, April 2018.