Sharing Your Faith – Part 2
Essential Disciplines – Session 9 – Sharing Your Faith – Part 2
Welcome to the final session in our Essential Disciplines series, where we take up some practical recommendations for sharing your faith. In the previous session, we explored why God has commanded us to share our faith, and, now, in this session we discuss how to do this.
1 Listen to Their Story
The process of sharing your faith begins with listening, and we can all do this. Each person has a unique story, filled with an infinite variety of twists and turns. If we truly love our neighbors, as Jesus has commanded us to do, then we must listen to them. (see Mark 12:31) Love requires us to understand our neighbors and meet them where they are.
1.1 Asking Caring Questions
In sharing the Gospel with others, Jesus often begins with a question that leads into a deeper discussion. Consider, for example, His encounter with the woman at the well:
“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’” John 4:7
This discussion of physical water leads to a deeper discussion of the spiritual water that Jesus can provide. And, in the process, they are eventually able to discuss the troubled family situation in which she found herself.
On another occasion, He sees several people laying by a pool of water, which they believed could heal them.
“One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?’” John 5:5-6
Notice how Jesus has compassion on this one in need, and, before preaching to him, asks him a question. Jesus listens before He speaks, and now the real conversation can begin.
1.2 Listen without Judgment
Notice also that, when Jesus listens, He is full of mercy. At one point, He says categorically to His disciples:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1
The Apostle James likewise warns:
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20
And then he adds:
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:12-13
The goal in our conversation is not to judge and condemn, but to listen to the concerns, questions and hurts that each person brings. Because we love that person, as Jesus commanded us to do, we want to understand his or her circumstances, including the need or concern that is drawing that person toward God.
2 Share Our Story
So then, listening to their story, without judging, is the first step. Then, we should be ready to share our story. For this step, we offer a few practical considerations.
2.1 Keep It Real
First, keep it real. Don’t embellish, beautify or sanitize the story. Tell it like it is. The power of our witness depends on our honesty. Consider, for example, Paul’s transparent confession:
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” 1 Corinthians 15:9-10
Paul’s past made God’s grace more evident to those who observed the change in his life. We don’t necessarily have to go into salacious details, but we do need to be clear. God should receive all the credit for our transformation.
2.2 Keep It Short
Second, keep it short, at least initially. We should prepare to tell our story within about 5 – 7 minutes. This allows us to get to the main points within a limited window of opportunity. We can always fill in the details when we have more time. To get to this point, we recommend that you write out your story, and then practice telling it to another disciple. Here at Bethany, we offer several workshops and online tools to prepare your story in this way.
2.3 Keep It Organized
Third, keep it organized. We recommend that you focus on three central points.
1. My Life Before I Met Christ
Explain the circumstances that brought you to faith. Was there a crisis in your life? Were you looking for answers or meaning? Were you a child, teenager or adult?
This is where people can connect with your story. Remember, your story is unique and meaningful. There are no boring stories here. Every story is a powerful witness to God’s transforming power.
2. How I Met Christ
In this section, tell the story of how you decided to follow Christ. What events lead up to this decision. Was it a sudden decision? Did it occur over time? When and where did it happen? Were other people instrumental in leading you through this decision?
3. How Christ Is Changing My Life
In this part of your story, give some examples of how Christ has made a difference in your decisions, actions or relationships. Some differences are large and dramatic, while others are slow and gradual. And often, the struggles continue. Again, keep it real. Don’t hide the fact that spiritual transformation often takes time.
If you keep your story to these three main points, you will find it is easier to remember and repeat. Over time, you will be able to vary the amount of detail required, depending upon the circumstances. But, in the meantime, you can start here with this simple outline.
3 Share God’s Story
After we listen to their story and share our story, we must look for an opportunity to share God’s story. For some, this is the most difficult part of the challenge. As you learn more about the story of the Bible, you should become more comfortable with telling it in various ways.
You can start, however, by preparing yourself. Here are few suggestions to maximize your opportunity to share the Gospel.
3.1 Learn the Essential Truths
Our Essential Truths sessions provide a starting point for discussing the major themes of God’s story. Let’s summarize them below:
1. Who Is God?
God is beyond us, God is with us, God is Trinity.
2. Who Is Jesus?
Jesus is God and Man, Lord and Savior.
3. Why the Cross?
The Cross is God’s solution to the human problem of sin.
4. Why the Bible?
The Bible Is God’s story with the power to shape our story.
5. Why Am I Here?
I am here to become and make disciples.
By memorizing these five questions and responses, you will be able to start a conversation about these core messages of the Gospel.
3.2 Memorize a Few Key Verses
It is also helpful to memorize a few key verses to get you started. The following verses describe the essence of the Gospel.
“…[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” John 14:6
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2
There are many other verses that we could list here, but these can get you started in a conversation about how God’s Word describes the Gospel.
3.3 Create A Simple Outline
We recommend that you keep it simple and clear. Here is a brief template that addresses the main points of the Gospel.
1. The Problem: Sin
Key Verses: Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23
Sin begins with the rejection of God, His will and His ways. Because we have all rejected God, both we and our world are severely broken and destined for judgment. Unless God acts for us, we will be eternally separated from Him.
2. The Solution: Jesus
Key Verses: John 3:16-17; 10:10; 14:6
God has sent His Son Jesus, who is both God and Man, to save us from this judgment. By dying on the cross, He takes our judgment on Himself, so that we can be restored to a loving relationship with both God and one another. By raising from the dead, Jesus promises new, abundant and eternal life to all who will follow Him as His disciple.
3. Our Response: Repent and Believe
Key Verses: John 3:16-17; Romans 12:1-2
While Christ died for us, we do not receive the eternal benefits of His saving work unless we repent and believe. We repent by admitting our sinfulness before Him, and asking for His mercy and forgiveness. We then believe that Christ has died for us and in our place, and, entirely because of His work on the cross, we now are adopted as beloved children into God’s eternal family. Given this new beginning, we commit ourselves to follow Him for the rest of our lives, learning from Him and obeying Him, as we depend upon His Spirit to cleanse us from our sinful hearts, minds and actions.
You can use this template to develop your own simple outline. However, use your own words to make these key points. Make it personal. Just make sure, however, that you stick to the main biblical points of the Gospel. Again, at Bethany Church, we offer several workshops and online resources to assist you in developing your outline.
4 Connecting Their Story to God’s Story
The last step in sharing your faith focuses on decision. We would like the person hearing both your story and God’s story to be impacted in some concrete way. You should therefore be prepared with some possible next steps.
4.1 Invite Further Discussion and Questions
The process of coming to faith can often be a long one, filled with many questions and experiences. It is important, therefore, we stay in dialog. Offer to have a follow up conversation and, if possible, schedule that time.
Sometimes during these conversations, questions arise that you may not be able to address immediately. In this case, offer to do some research and get back to them with an answer, or a least another resource that can address their question.
4.2 Invite Them to Join You
Often the next step in faith will require community. The people with whom you are speaking may need to see faith in action. So, invite them to join you at church, in a support group, or in a service project. Then, follow up with them, to see if they have questions or feedback. Keep the conversation going.
4.3 Invite Them to Follow Jesus
Ultimately, this is where we want them to be, not because we are trying to make a convert, but we because we know that this is where God wants them to be. This is where the forgiveness, healing and restoration begins.
Be sensitive to the process, but, when you feel the person is ready, ask whether he or she is ready to commit to following Jesus. Be assured that the Holy Spirit will guide you through this moment.
If the person is willing, lead him or her in a simple prayer of commitment. Help them to find their own words to confess their sin, and to ask for God’s forgiveness and healing. They also may need help to express their belief that, because of the Cross, they are now forgiven and fully restored as God’s son or daughter.
After completing the prayer, encourage them to take the next step in their spiritual journey. Make sure that they are plugged into a caring, nurturing church environment where they can grow in their new faith. And, if possible and appropriate, mentor them through this journey.
Well, we have just touched the surface in this discipline of sharing your faith. But we pray that these few practical suggestions will inspire you to get started. And, know that God will use you. He promises to go with you in this mission. As you grow in this discipline, we pray that God will lead you even deeper in your relationship with Jesus.
Note: Unless otherwise indicated, all English translations of the Bible in this document are taken from The New International Version. (2011); Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.