Some of us might feel that sharing about Jesus is hard or intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! If Jesus is a part of your story (or more accurately, the Author of it) sharing about him comes naturally because you’re just sharing about your life. Facts and information are all well and good, but it’s stories that draw us in, make us curious, and inspire change. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind as you learn to share your story with your international friends!
Tip 1: Pray First
It’s good to be prepared to share your story, but if God is not in it, it doesn’t matter how much preparation you do. Ask God to help you understand what He has done in your life and how to communicate it effectively to others. Ask him for opportunities to share this story with others. And when God provides those opportunities, pray he would guide your words before you share.
Tip 2: Stick to the Point
It can be easy to get sidetracked when telling our stories because so much of life overlaps and connects. But everyone knows what it’s like to listen to a story that goes on and on, sharing details that are not relevant to the point. Many times we think we need those details, but ask yourself, would the story suffer if I took this out? Or can I summarize it in a sentence? If you can get your story down to about 3-5 minutes, you’re doing well. Practice it out loud and time yourself. Often, a written story can seem short until it’s told. A good model to follow could be to explain what your life was like before, how God found you, and what your life has been like since. Stick to the point of what God has done in your life, and slash the irrelevant details.
Tip 3: Be Specific and Honest
Sometimes it’s hard to share the specifics of our story. It means being honest about how lost, selfish, and messed up we were without Christ and how we continue to struggle with wrong actions and attitudes as human beings even after we have a relationship with Christ. But sharing specifically without glossing over in grand generalisms helps people connect to one another. Your international friends may come from another country, but chances are, they’ve faced many of the same struggles you have faced. When you are honest, that will create a genuine space for your friends to be honest as well. Perhaps they will feel comfortable asking you questions they’ve never voiced to anyone else.
Tip 4: Don’t Argue or Debate
Sharing stories is not a time to debate. It’s simply a time to be open about our experiences. It’s possible your international friend may share a story of their own. Whether or not you agree with their interpretation of the world, their story is something that really happened to them. Respect that. Ask questions. Try to understand. Perhaps there are some bridges that can be built through connecting something they said to something you have experienced as well, and then you can share how you interpreted that experience. No matter how you go about it, sharing stories is an ideal time to bring up different ways of thinking about things without being argumentative.
Tip 5: Tell of the Benefits of Knowing God
Ultimately, our story is not about us, but about God. It’s the story of how he called us into a relationship with him and how he serves us in that relationship. Think about how God tenderly serves you, and share that as part of your story. People are searching for the things God promises to give us: love, peace, boldness, purpose. Weave those things into your story to share how God has specifically given those things to you. That is what draws people.
Sharing your story might not be on the top of your to do list, but it can be! We can take to heart the advice in 1 Peter 15:3b which says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” In the end, that’s all that sharing our story is. It’s giving a reason for the hope that we have! Let us each prepare ourselves so that we are ready whenever the opportunity arises.
*Special thanks to Jim Hanes and the IFI staff at Peoria for running a training on this topic for their volunteers in Illinois and sharing their notes with us!