Our personal story can be a powerful tool God uses to reach others. The woman at the well shared her story in John 4 and many in her village came to Christ. The apostle Paul proclaimed his story in Acts 22 to an angry mob and Acts 26 before King Agrippa. God even used a blind man’s simple testimony, “I was blind, now I see,” to confront the first century religious establishment with the truth of Jesus.
God still uses stories to impact lives and wants to use yours. Here are three guidelines to help you tell your story in the context of a conversation.
Hear Their Story
Something special happens when you show an interest in hearing about the journey of someone elses life. Barriers drop, walls crumble, and the opportunity for conversation emerges as someone sees you're genuinely interested in learning about them.
Of course, you can't hear somebody's story until they begin telling it, and they don't tell it unless you ask about it. Consider asking an open-ended question to get the ball rolling and see where it goes from there. Simple questions like "what kind of pets have you had in your life?", "How many older/younger siblings do you have?", can take you beyond the weather-is-nice-today conversations and start you down a path toward deeper, more personal conversations about family upbringing, opinons on faith, and more.
James exhorts us to “be swift to hear, slow to speak.” (1:19) Conversations are not one-way streets, but an exchange of ideas. Listening shows you care, allows you to learn about the person, helps you craft your own story in response to theirs, and sets the stage for the person to listen to you.
Share Your Story
As you get to know someone, a time comes when you begin sharing about the things you care about most. And of course, your relationship with Jesus is going to sit atop that list. There are three simple things to keep in mind when time arises for you to share your story of faith.
A well-structured testimony tells three things about you. First, describe what your life was like before you came to Christ. What were your thoughts about yourself, life, and the Lord? Second, explain how you came to understand your need of the Lord and how you came to see yourself as a sinner separated from God. How did He get your attention and what drew you to Him? Third, tell of the difference He has made since. How has your life and perspective changed?
Tell His Story
We should not only tell how we came to understand our need for forgiveness, but also what Jesus did to make forgiveness possible. That is why it is essential to weave the gospel into the conversation. This includes explaining the ten words of the gospel, that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead as well as our need to trust in Him alone as our only way to heaven and reconciliation with God.
If they understand how God brought you to Christ, they will understand how they can come to the Savior and experience the same forgiveness, peace, and hope that you have.
Stories are simply part of who we are as people. God has given you a story for His glory. Think about how you can use it to open doors and share the most important message anyone can ever hear.