“And [the saints] have conquered [the Dragon] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” – Revelation 12:11
This past month our theme at Bridgeway has been outreach & evangelism. This isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us, which is why Jesus promises he will “make us fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), and why he insists that to do this work of witnessing, we will need the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
However, even though it doesn’t come easily or naturally to most of us, the Lord asks each one of his followers to share in this work. Paul urged Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist” even though he more gifted as a pastor and teacher (2 Timothy 4:5).
So where do I begin to learn this skill? One of the easiest places to start is in learning to share stories with others of the difference Christ has made in my life. In “Christianese”, we call these stories “testimonies”, where we testify to what “we have seen and heard” in following Christ (1 John 1:3).
Why start here? for starters, because stories are easy to create and easy to share.
In our training, we ask you to keep your stories short – 30 to 60 seconds long at the most. Since the Bible tells us to think through in advance how we would defend our faith if someone asks us about it (2 Peter 3:16), we also encourage people to write them out. A one-minute story amounts to a paragraph or two at the most. By writing them out, you can then rehearse them, which drives them deeper into your memory lobes, which means when the time comes for the Spirit to prompt you to share, you’ll have something to draw upon.
Secondly, stories are powerful.
You may doubt that for yourself, but don’t. Simply walk into a noisy room and shout out, “Once upon a time…” and watch the room get immediately quieter. Stories are easy on the ears, and magnetic for the heart. Revelation 12:11 even tells us that the word of our testimony has power to overcome the Dragon (i.e. Satan.) Your story might be just the thing which God uses to awaken faith in another person, or jam a spoke in the wheel of their unbelief and doubt.
Thirdly, stories are personal.
They’re your story. You don’t need any special theological training to come up with them. As you grow in your faith, you’ll eventually need to learn how to share “the gospel” with others, which is a structured explanation of 1) Jesus’ death and resurrection, 2) why his death and resurrection are important, and 3) how to become Christ’s follower and share in the blessings of his death and resurrection. Learning the gospel will require a bit more study and memory-work.
But not with coming up with stories. Those hardly need any work at all. John 9 tells the story of a blind man whom Jesus healed. When Jesus’ enemies came to the man later, peppering him with theological questions to uncover some dirt about Jesus, the man finally threw up his hands and said, “Look, I don’t know about any of these things you’re asking. All I know is that I was blind, now I see, and he did it!”
And this is what you’re doing with your story. I was in this fix. Now my life is changing. And Jesus did it! Because Jesus’ work in a person’s life can touch so many areas,
A final thing about stories is that they’re varied and ongoing.
Your library of 30 to 60 second stories should always be growing. They can include:
- A conversion story. Every believer should be able to easily share a short story of how they first came to follow Christ. “I love/believe/follow Jesus because he saved me and here’s how it happened…”
- Deliverance stories. “I love/believe/follow Jesus because he helped me through…” then take 30 to 60 seconds to describe a difficulty he helped you face.
- Truth or doctrine stories. “I love/believe/follow Jesus because he’s taught me…” then describe a lesson you’ve learned in following him.
- Experience stories. “I love/believe/follow Jesus because he showed himself to me by…” then write out in a few sentences how you’ve experienced his presence and power.
One day a few years ago, I sat down and thought through all the ways that Christ has changed my life for the better in the past thirty years of following him. I was stunned by what I learned in doing that exercise.
That no, life wasn’t now trial-free, test-free, and pain-free. And no, I wasn’t perfect by a long shot. There is still so much sin and brokenness that he’s continuing to work on. (And there are tests and trials yet to face that will undo me should I ever let go of him.) But my goodness, the areas where his grace has brought healing, freedom, insight, and growth – it left me speechless. All I could do was worship and thank him for being in my life.
Meanwhile, the more those stories start to pile up, the stronger your faith will become, and the more you’ll be steadied and equipped to face those future trials that never seem very far away. Because you’ll remember in those moments what the Lord has done for you before, and know that this same Savior and Friend is with you still.
So…what are you waiting for? Get into the habit, or continue with the habit, of becoming a writer and teller of stories.
Bear Clifton is a pastor, writer and screenwriter. He’s latest book is “Living Under The Cross: A 40-Day Devotional Journey”, a series of devotionals based on the Beatitudes. His blogs and writing 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”, and “A Sparrow Could Fall”, all available through Amazon.