Most of us who have been Christians for any length of time have probably heard Matthew 28:19 where Jesus commissions His disciples to make disciples wherever they are. In my heart, I want to do that—to be obedient in sharing about Him to others around me who do not know Him yet or do not know Him well. But I often feel so inadequate. You may feel that way, too. We will help you get ready to share your faith in very simple ways. This is post #4 in our “Lifestyle Disciplemaking” blog series, adapted from our book, Leap into Lifestyle Disciplemaking.
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Making good intentions become intentional actions
So far in this series of articles about lifestyle disciplemaking, we have covered how to start making connections with nonbelievers or just those who are unchurched. Jesus followers become disciplemakers. To become disciplemakers, we need to go from having good intentions to being intentional at finding and connecting with the nonbelievers in our lives. It starts with identifying who they are, praying for them, and loving them with God’s love. You can download the “Prepare to Share” booklet to help you with the process. Get the “Pray and Love” bookmark as a helpful reminder.
In the last article, we talked about the need for designated engagers who make newcomers get connected at any event. That is an easy way to get started with lifestyle disciplemaking. You can download the “Designated Engagers Preparation” checklist to help you with that. By the way, that preparation can be useful in the community as well.
You have made the connections with women who are nonbelievers or unchurched. When the Lord Jesus gives you the opportunity to share your faith, you need to be ready. This article will give you ways to prepare to share your faith then do it!
Preparation in partnership with the Holy Spirit
A few years ago, I realized that if I was going to get beyond my feeling of inadequacy to share my faith, I would need to work at preparing myself to share about Christ in daily conversation. Once prepared, I would need to ask Him for opportunity to use what I learned to introduce Him to other women and then trust Him to do the rest. By the way, that is the simplicity of lifestyle disciplemaking. It is a huge part of my purpose and your purpose while we are alive on this earth. We are commissioned to follow Jesus as His disciples and live for Him as disciplemakers. But how do we do this?
Remembering this truth takes the pressure off of yourself: You are in partnership with the Holy Spirit. He gives you the power to be a witness for Christ (Acts 1:8). You are not on your own! He is at work in your and in the world.
QUOTE Evangelism is not about you involving Him in your outreach efforts. It is He involving you in His. Only the Holy Spirit can open the eyes of unbelievers to the truth of the gospel…It is the job of believers to communicate the gospel. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convert the heart. (David Souther, EvanTell)
Two powerful resources help you fulfill your purpose
You have two powerful resources to help you fulfill your purpose as you partner with the Spirit. Both are mentioned in what the Spirit inspired John to write in Revelation.
They [believers] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. (Revelation 12:11)
Your two resources are the blood of the Lamb (the gospel message) and the word of your testimony (your faith story). People can reject the facts or logic of the gospel, but it is very hard to argue with someone about their experience of the gospel. Sharing the facts of the gospel and your own faith story are ways to put your faith into words. Sadly, many Christians are not comfortable sharing either! Why is that? I think it is because we do not prepare to do so through practice, encouragement, and experience.
In this article and the next one, we will share with you three things you can do on your own to prepare to share your faith so when the Spirit gives you opportunity, you are ready to take it! The first thing is to shape your faith story and practice telling it so it is easy to share. In “Connect: Prepare to Share the Gospel Facts,” we will look at preparing conversation transitions and knowing the gospel facts.
Shaping your “faith story”
Maybe the right words to share your faith story in a conversation come naturally to you. Praise God for that verbal gift! I am willing to declare that for most of us (including me), those words just do not come easily. We do not know where to start. We do not know how much to say. We say too much. Frankly, I have not been in a church yet that stressed the importance of being able to share one’s faith story by actually training everyone to do it including frequent opportunities to practice it! Why is that? How many hours do we spend practicing other things but not “the word of our testimony?”
Your story is Jesus’ story in your life. Only you know it and can share it. It is your real-life experience of the gospel truth. It is YOUR story—edited by you, filtered by you, and told by you. You can tell it anywhere.
People love to hear stories. This is evidenced by all the money that is spent watching movies, attending the theatre, buying books and by all the time that is spent watching the television. Telling your faith story is just that: your personal story about your faith. It is an unobtrusive way to speak about the love of God in your life and the love he has for all people…Your life and story is the best tract to be written! (The Disciplemaking Ministry Guide for Women in Leadership, “How to Share Your Faith,” page 21)
There are several ways to look at telling your faith story. You may recall a dramatic event or specific point in time when you began a personal relationship with Jesus. So you remember well what it was like to not know Him and the difference He has made in your life.
Or you may have grown up in church and feel like you always knew who God was and trusted in Jesus as your Savior as a child. Those who trusted in Jesus as children often feel they “have nothing to tell” because they do not have a dramatic story. They are unconvinced that their story matters. Yet, in the case of childhood believers, there occurs a later, mature decision to follow Christ as His disciple where more obvious life changes occurred. If you are in this category, focus on that later turning point in telling your story when you made the decision to follow Jesus as His disciple at some point in your teen years or adult life. That is when a childlike faith becomes an adult faith.
By the way, you might consider “nothing to tell” and not sensational enough because you have stayed faithful to Christ through the years. That is what every parent wants to hear from their own child! You have a story to share! What helped you to stay faithful to Christ?
Here are two ways to shape your faith story so you are ready to share it.
Option 1. Shape your faith story using three words!*
When someone shares an easy way to put together something to share my faith story whenever the opportunity arises, I jump on the idea. Several years ago, EvanTell.org did that in one of their newsletters. Here is how it works:
Choose any three words to represent your life before trusting in Jesus, how you came to trust in Him, and your life as a believer ever since.
- Choose the first word to describe your life, feelings, situation, or thoughts before trusting in Christ. Examples: angry, independent, manipulative, miserable, hopeless, empty, addicted, me-centered, restless, striving, confused, insecure, worried, childlike. Word #1 = ______________________
- Choose the second word to describe how you came to trust in Christ. Examples: creation, studied, concert, grew, Bible, friend, trouble, observation, evangelist, spouse, loved, teacher, parent. Word #2 = ______________________
- Choose the third word to describe your life, feelings, situation, or thoughts since trusting in Christ. Examples: peaceful, loving, trusting, freedom, servant, hopeful, compassionate, confident. Word #3 = ______________________
Using those three words, create 1-2 sentences for each word—just a brief explanation of how each word relates to your story. A friend of mine gave me the example below using ME-CENTERED, EVANGELIST, and TRUSTING.
Before coming to faith in Jesus Christ, I was ME-CENTERED and thought I was in control of my life. If I wanted something to happen (specifically, get a boyfriend!), I had to make it happen! My sisters came to faith before I did, and through them I saw a lack in my own life. When I heard an EVANGELIST on TV present the gospel, I realized what the lack was. It was a Person, Jesus Christ, and I prayed and asked Him to forgive my sins. Now, I am most blessed in relinquishing control to Him, TRUSTING Him with all my heart, leaning not on my own understanding, acknowledging Him in all my ways and allowing Him to straighten my paths.
You can also watch how to develop your 3-word story via YouTube video. I made my 3-word story into a short video that you can watch here.
You can interject your 3-word story into a conversation or ask the other person what 3 words might define her life. Download the “Prepare to Share” booklet which includes this 3-Word Story worksheet.
2. Shape a 5-minute version of your faith story.
Work on your longer story in stages.
- Stage 1: Recall your life before knowing Jesus or choosing to follow Him. Use these prompts to help you: What were your attitudes, needs, and/or problems? How did those areas or activities begin to disappoint you or leave you unsatisfied? To what source did you look for security, peace of mind, or happiness? Describe how you felt or what your greatest needs were at the time (e.g. loneliness, feelings of insignificance, anger, rejection). Briefly share a personal example from your life that illustrates those needs and attitudes you just identified.
- Stage 2: Recall how you came to know Christ (point of salvation) or chose to follow Him. Use these prompts to help you: Share when and how you first heard the gospel and/or were exposed to knowing Christ. What brought you to the place of being willing to listen or of wanting to be more than just a believer? Who influenced you? How and when did you decide to follow Jesus? Describe how you felt, what truths you heard, what you thought about them, how you felt after you made the decision.
- Stage 3: Recall the benefits you recognize in your life since knowing Jesus and choosing to follow Him. Use these prompts to help you. What conditions before you really knew Christ have been satisfied by a relationship with him? What does it look like in your life to have a relationship with Christ? How long did it take before you noticed changes? What does it look like in your life to have this closer relationship with Christ? What are your blessings since having Jesus in your life? Where do you struggle still? How do you depend on Jesus through those struggles? Briefly share a personal example from your life that illustrates the wonderful difference that Jesus Christ has made in your life.
Script something you can share in about 5 minutes.
Whether you like to be spontaneous or need everything written down, it helps to script what you will say. It forces you to think through what you will say to maintain your main idea. It helps you to manage your allowed time. Spend only about 30% of the time on your “before,” just enough to have them identify with your need at that time. Spend another 30% on the decision time, and spend the rest of the time on what knowing Christ has done for you. Always end inviting them to join your adventure.
Write it as you would speak it with shorter sentences using everyday words that are clear and simple. Include specific illustrations that give them snapshots of your life, not only general descriptions of your life events. Screen your language for churchy words that an unchurched person might not understand. Practice saying your story several times. You can use a mirror to practice making eye contact with the listener to draw her into your story. Get together with friends and have a “Tell Your Story” party.
Download the “Prepare to Share” booklet which includes the My Faith Story worksheets.
Stay Christ-focused as you take the next steps
Jesus is drawing men and women to Himself. He commissions you to be part of the process of introducing them to Him. When the Holy Spirit gives you opportunity to talk to anyone about Jesus, you need to be ready. Ask the Lord to help you write your faith story, what to include, and how to invite someone to open her heart to hear it. Ask Him to give you opportunity to share it soon.
We will look at ways that you can prepare conversation starters and transitions plus sharing the gospel facts in the next blog, “Prepare to Share the Gospel Facts.” Trust Jesus to help you do this. Then, watch what He does!
Lifestyle disciplemaking activities are interwoven throughout our Live Out His Love Bible Study of New Testament women.
Let Jesus lead you into lifestyle disciplemaking. Jesus followers become disciplemakers.
- The Call to Lifestyle Disciplemaking
- Connect: Build Intentional Relationships with Nonbelievers
- Connect: Become a Designated Engager
- Connect: Prepare to Share Your Faith Story
- Connect: Prepare to Share the Gospel Facts
- Establish: Give Believers Strong Roots
- Establish: Choose to Disciple Others
- Establish: Nurture Women Who Are New to the Bible
- Launch: Multiply Impact Beyond Yourself
- Launch: Use Your Workday Lunch Break for Disciplemaking
- Launch: Transition to a Disciplemaking-Focused Women’s Ministry
- Live Out His Love Bible Study on Amazon (New Testament women, disciplemaking preparations)
- Be a Christ-Focused Small Group Leader on Amazon (prepares group leaders for disciplemaking)
- Lifestyle Disciplemaking resources on my website (including everything in this blog series)
- Host a “Leap into Lifestyle Disciplemaking” retreat
- Homes of Light (how to use your home to influence nonbelievers for Christ)
- Live a Question-Stimulating Life in View of Your Neighbors (from Dwell: Life with God for the World by Barry D. Jones
- Stay Christ-Focused When Telling Your Story on Bible.org
- Three.Words.Story on Bible.org
- “Prepare to Share” Booklet
Image credit: sourced from a template at canva.com.
*”Create Your Own 3 Word Testimony” was developed by evantell.org.