3 Levels Of Sharing Our Faith
The book of Acts is arguably one of the most readable and heart-stirring books in all the Bible. As a chronicle of the first thirty years of church history, Acts is filled with legendary stories of how the church exponentially grew against overwhelming odds and fierce opposition.
Take Acts 8:1-4 for example. In the aftermath of a great persecution that breaks out against the believers in Jerusalem, hundreds if not thousands run for their lives and settle elsewhere. Some might have thought that this would spell the end for the church, but far from it. Verse 4 says, “Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”
It’s one of the amazing things even a casual reading of Acts will reveal: that the primary work of building and strengthening the church was not done by the leaders, but by the everyday believers. From Acts 2 onwards, when the Holy Spirit falls upon the entire congregation, and all of them take the streets to tell others about Jesus, we see all of them together sharing, serving, praying, teaching, and speaking.
As our culture continues its drifting, rather its free-falling, away from God, it’s important for Jesus-loving, Bible-believing men and women to recapture this vision for what being part of “the church” is meant to be. Particularly on the evangelistic side of things.
The primary work of building and strengthening the church was not done by the leaders, but by the everyday believers.
No doubt, many of you, upon reading that these scattered saints “preached the word”, started to hyperventilate and reach for a paper sack. “Preach the word! But I can’t do that!”
But would it be of comfort to you to know that in Acts, and throughout the New Testament, there are at least three levels of sharing our faith with others, which range from easiest to hardest? And with the Lord’s help, we can improve at each level.
Level One of sharing our faith is Sharing Stories.
Any one of us, old or young in faith, can do this. No doubt, these Christians who scattered about like baby chicks did this as they went about moving their families.
I can imagine them talking to the real estate guy, who asks them, “So why are you moving here?” And in response, they tell a story about Jesus. When the guy at the gas station says, “So, I see from the license plate on your camel that you’re from Jerusalem. Are you on vacation?” They’d say no, then share a story of why they were there.
Anyone of us can tell a story. And every one of us who is a Christian should have multiple stories in their backpocket of why they love and follow Jesus.
These stories don’t have to be long either. A great project for developing these stories is something we call 30-Second Stories. Start with the sentence, “I love Jesus because…” then you fill in the blank with a short paragraph.
In short order, you should easily be able to come up with a “Conversion” story, then maybe a “Deliverance” story of something the Lord has helped with through, then maybe a “Truth” story of some lesson Jesus has taught you, then maybe an “Experience” story of some way that you’ve experienced for yourself the power of the risen Christ in your life.
Keeping them brief makes them easy to write, then easy to memorize, which of course makes them easy to share and easy for the person you’re talking to, to digest.
Not only will it be good for the ones you’re talking to, but it will be good for you also. Because in chronicling all the ways Jesus has changed your life for the better, your heart like the Grinch’s will grow three sizes bigger just thinking of why Jesus is the first and best thing in your life.
Level Two of sharing my faith is being able to Explain The Gospel.
No doubt as these baby-chick Christians shared their stories, people would ask things like: What’s a Christian? Who is Jesus? Why would you be willing to lose everything for being his follower? (And just as an aside, isn’t it interesting how these first Christians were willing, even glad, to give everything up for Christ? Would we do the same?)
But here’s what I want you to notice. They had the ability to explain what was special about this Jesus. It’s what we call “the Gospel”. It’s a reasoned explanation of how and why Jesus died and rose again. And why it matters. And the difference it makes. And how a person can come to know Jesus and begin a relationship with him.
As we grow in our faith, you and I need to grow in the ability to share this information with others. So what would you say if someone asked you out of the blue, “So what’s Christianity all about?”
Thankfully, there are some beautiful ways to explain the gospel to others, summarized through some simple models which anyone can learn.
You can use the Bridge illustration. Or an explanation known as Do-Done. Or maybe you’ve heard of something called The Four Spiritual Laws. A memorable model called the Romans Road uses a chain of verses from the book of Romans. Memorize the verses, and you have stepping stones with which you can share the gospel.
Whatever method or model works for you, learn it, practice it, and share it. The reason this is Level Two is because you need to actually assemble some facts together in a logical and understandable way.
Though the gospel is “simple”, trust me on this: we will spend not only all of this life, but all of eternity, trying to plunge the full depths of Christ’s dying on that cross for us. But we’ll never get to the bottom of it all. Or grasp the vast“breadth and length and height and depth…of the love of Christ” (Eph.3:18-19).
There’s nothing on earth like the gospel. There’s no other religion that offers the power and peace that the gospel does. There’s nothing that will change your thinking and your behavior like the gospel.
Finally, Level Three of sharing our faith: Learn how to start and sustain spiritual conversations.
The apostle Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. But do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). This is level three because this will require the need for study, prayer and ongoing training.
You’ll have to learn something Christians called “apologetics”, which is the ability to give answers to any number of questions that seekers and skeptics will ask. How do you know the Bible is the Word of God? If God is so loving and powerful, why is there suffering? How is Jesus different from any other holy man? (And goodness, these are the kinds of questions that you’ll ask as you move on in your faith! And you should find answers for these questions.)
“Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. But do it with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:1)
There’s both an art and a science to having spiritual conversations with people, so it’s a little more complicated, but honestly, this too is a skill that anyone can learn with prayer and practice. If I hear in the media someone attack Christianity, I’ll ask myself, “How would I answer that critique or that question?”
I call this “sound bite training”. I’ll think it through long and hard. I’ll do some homework. And then go so far as to write out my response. “Always be prepared to make a defense,” Peter says. So this takes preparation. Sometimes lots of it. And struggling to. And being courageous to admit your doubts, then wrestle with them. It’s more than okay to ask questions of your faith. God’s a big boy, he can handle it. And you’ll grow stronger as a result.
I’ve learned after 40 years of following Christ that you never need to run and hide. There are answers to be found for even the toughest questions. And good, robust answers. Jesus stood toe to toe with the best religious minds of his time. The early Christians faced off against Greek and Roman philosophy and exposed its nakedness.
Down to our age, as pundits and progressives try to advance radical ideas in an attempt to undermine Christian thought and ethics, I encourage you to hold the line. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to make you one of his trained workers that he will send out, and preach the Word.
Bear Clifton, writer and screenwriter, is the pastor of BridgeWay Community Church in California, Maryland. His blogs, screenplays and devotionals can be enjoyed at his ministry website: trainyourselfministry.com and his writing website: blclifton.com. Bear is also the author of “Train Yourself To Be Godly: A 40 Day Journey Toward Sexual Wholeness”, “Ben-Hur: The Odyssey”, “A Sparrow Could Fall”, and his latest – “Living Under The Cross”, a collection of essays on the Beatitudes – all available through Amazon.