Evangelism – Prepare
Telling God’s Story
The gospel is the good news of God’s story, his dream for the world, accomplished through the life and death of his son, Jesus.
Give these three ways to tell God’s story a try—1) listen to the story 2) Practice telling the story aloud 3) Think of a friend you will tell the story to and then frame the story in a way that you know will best connect to your friend.
Telling Your Transformation Story
Telling stories from our own journey with Christ can be a helpful resource in leading others to an understanding of faith in Christ. Fresh stories communicate how we understand God and how He is at work in our life. Try preparing a new story of God’s work in your life. Then share it with unchurched friends and family.
Personal Reflection: Writing Your Transformation Story
Think of a time in your life when God worked and your life was changed. In particular, think of a time in which a spiritual experience with God was crucial in your life.
You may especially want to think about a time that would relate well to the people you want to mentor in the spiritual journey. The more recent your experience, the easier it will probably be to share it naturally with others.
The crucial questions in writing your own transformation story:
What was your struggle or crisis or need or longing?
- The encounter with God will only be powerful and significant if the problem or struggle or longing or need is emotionally compelling. This part of the story is crucial. Don’t summarize the need, but rather paint the picture of the circumstances and relationships that make the need real.
How did you encounter or experience the reality of God in your life in relation to your struggle or crisis or need or longing? What spiritual experience was crucial in your change process?
- Avoid clichés and jargon about Jesus. In a simple and heartfelt manner, tell the experience of encountering God’s presence or involvement as concretely andhumanly as you can. Did you hear God’s voice? How? Did someone’s love and acceptance of you convince you God was really there and loved even you? How did that happen? Emphasize the events and people and not your interpretation of the events and people. How did you know it was God? What part did Jesus play in your conscious experience?
How did you respond?
- Even here, sharing your struggles in responding to God will be as important as sharing the success of finally responding. Tell your story as it was, with all the pain and doubt, and not as you think it should have been.
What difference has it made in your life?
- Tell your story of the changes just as honestly as you tell the rest of the story. Success stories that claim total healing and change may sell well, but they don’t often ring true. As you think about how you are different share especially how the encounter with God helped you change where you put your identity, security and loyalty.
Remember, your story is about an experience with God and how it changed your life. Your story is about transformation. All good stories are.
Summary of Guidelines in writing your transformation story:
- Avoid religious clichés, jargon and catch phrases.
- Avoid smoothing over ambiguity and uncertainty. We tell our story as it is, not as we think it ought to be.
- We tell our story as we see and understand it now. We may see it differently later on.
- Be alert to the uniqueness of your experience and the multiple influencers, including people.
- Attend to threshold events and turning points, occasions on which the whole experience hangs. For you turning points might relate to moments of stress or crisis or times of longing and potential.
- Be attentive to the emotional energy that sustains the transformation process.
- Remember that your story, though personal, is also a celebration of the grace of God, who is your story’s true hero. Your narrative is an act of thanksgiving and gratitude (Smith, pp. 224-227).
Personal Reflection: Relating Your Transformation Story to Others
Think about with whom your story might connect. What stage of life might they be in?
What are the struggles, needs or longings they might have that you can identify with?
What might be a good way to get into conversation with them so, that you could share your story of transformation?
What natural bridge into the conversation might you make? In sharing with others, the more current and fresh your transformation story is, the easier it will be to bridge into the conversation.
Can you think of anyone specific with whom you could share? If so, take a moment to pray for that person.
Small Group Exercise: Sharing Your Transformation Story with Another
Now, let’ spend time sharing our transformation stories with one another. Start by telling the other person with whom you think your story might connect. If you have somebody specific in mind, share a bit about that person. If not, share the kind of person who might be helped by your story and where that person is at in life.
Share your story. Then evaluate one another a bit. Did the story ring true? Did you share events and people, and not just your interpretations and feelings? Was Jesus the hero? Did you avoid clichés and jargon? Did the encounter with Jesus ring true? Were the changes in your life significant and real?
End by giving thanks for God’s transforming work in your lives. Hopefully, this exercise will encourage you deeply.
Resource from Richardson’s course: Culture: Emerging and Global