In my Journey, men’s group bible study that I am a part of on Friday mornings, we are working on how to approach people who aren’t Christians how to have a relationship with God. To be honest, this has not been something that I have put a lot of emphasis on in the past, but as my relationship with God has been growing, I am learning that spreading the Good News is not only something I should do as a Christian, but it is actually a mandate that was given by Jesus.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I have never been the type of person who likes to push my beliefs on others, but this is important stuff. We are talking about having eternal life in heaven and being saved and the alternative is pretty grim. If I care for people like I say I do, then I owe it to them to at least talk to them about how my relationship with God has transformed my life. Out of love for my brothers and sisters here on earth, it is time that I got a little bit out of my comfort zone.
In 2012, I am really trying to make a devoted effort to better at this. In an effort to do this, I thought it would be good to do a blog series on some ways to do this. Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to be writing a 7 part blog on ways you can tell people about God and hopefully give some direction on how you can answer some questions people might have. Here is a little bit of an outline of what we will be talking about over the course of the series.
Part 1: Writing Your God Story.
Part 2: Speaking the Truth.
Part 3: Evolution.
Part 4: Why Trust the Bible?
Part 5: Why Do We Suffer?
Part 6: What About Hypocrisy?
Part 7: Turning the Tables.
I will get to Part 1 here in a minute. In part 2, I will be talking about the importance of letting people know the truth about God and having a relationship with Him. In Parts 3-6, I will be taking what I think are the 4 most important arguments you will run into against Christianity and some things you can consider in trying to answer questions in each of these areas. In Part 7, I will be discussing the idea of turning the tables. That means that instead of defensively answering people’s questions and defending your beliefs, it is crucial that we look to seek out and change people’s misconceptions about God. I really hope you enjoy the series and that we can learn something together.
The first thing that we need to understand is that it never works to try to shove your beliefs down someone’s throat. If you push hard, you will just send some one running in the other direction. The first thing you need to do is just build a trusting relationship with someone. That means asking them questions about their life and actually listen to their answers and be interested in them. Make telling about yourself secondary. If they ask you about you, certainly tell them, but don’t push it.
It takes time to build a trusting relationship with someone so you can’t rush through this. Just continue to approach them with love and caring and they will be drawn to you.
At some point in the relationship, they will likely be curious about you and your beliefs. When they ask you, you need to have something in mind to tell them. This is the point that you need to tell them your God Story. Your God Story is just your story of how you came to know God, how you developed a relationship with Him, and how it has impacted your life. At least initially, you want something fairly short so you can keep their interest, but still conveys the importance that God has in your life.
Writing Your God Story
Here are some tips for writing your God Story:
- Organize your God Story around this simple outline to make it easy to follow.
Before I became a Christian…
How I became a Christian…
Since I became a Christian…
- Write your God Story in the way you naturally speak.
- Avoid Christian jargon (saved, lost, born again, converted). These words don’t always communicate what you intend.
- Remember that most people you meet will say they believe in God, so you will want to talk about trusting or following Jesus, rather than having a general faith in God.
- Emphasize why you believe Jesus is real and relevant in your life.
- Avoid talking about any church, denomination or Christian group in a derogatory way.
- Avoid giving the false impression that the Christian life is trouble-free.
- Practice telling your story out loud. If you can’t say it in the way you naturally speak in less than 3 minutes, it is too long.
- Ask yourself if your God Story would connect with someone on a personal level so that they could identify with your story.
I have been working on my God Story so I would like to share with you my short version of my God Story here:
I was born and raised in two families that attended church regularly. My parents made sure I went to Sunday school and I learned some of the basic bible stories. We called ourselves Christians, but there was no emphasis on having an intimate relationship with God. Our Sundays didn’t really go out into the rest of our weeks. I mean we didn’t seem to practice what we learned on Sundays on Mondays through Saturdays. In college, I still attended church regularly to keep up appearances and it is what I was familiar with. I never had a close relationship with God though.
I got married and as a married couple we went to church regularly. I was never actively involved in my church, I was just an attendee. I still did not have a real relationship with God. Then my wife left me and divorced me. I fell to great depths in my life. I rejected God because I was mad at Him. I stopped attending church all together. I filled my life with self-glorification, extreme drinking, and several meaningless, lustful relationships filled with sexual immorality. I became very jaded and bitter. I had a huge hole in my soul that none of the earthly pleasures I tried to fill it with would. I was more alone than I had ever been in my life.
It came to a head on 12/24/08 at Christmas Eve service. I was surrounded by family and friends and still felt totally alone. I broke down and cried when we sang “Silent Night.” I had reached my bottom. I knew I could no longer do life on my own. I got on my knees, gave my life to God, and asked for His help. In that moment I surrendered my heart to God and made the decision to follow Him and develop an intimate relationship with Him.
For the first time in my life I had a true sense of what the Gospel (Good News) was really about. Christ did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. Jesus allowed himself to be tortured and brutally murdered to pay the penalty for my sins so that I wouldn’t have to. In doing so, all my sins are forgiven if I ask God to forgive me. This gave me a new life and allowed me to have an intimate relationship with God for the first time in my life.
My life has changed greatly since that night I decided to step over the faith line. That hole in my soul has been filled in a way I couldn’t do on my own. I have this sense of inner peace I have never felt before. I have a greater sense of confidence and I am better able to handle tough things that come into my life. I spend less time trying to run my own life and letting God control more of my life. I now have a strong hunger to learn more about the bible. I have a much stronger desire to help others by serving them. I find that with each passing day, I am transitioning into being a more humble person. I am gaining a better sense of the purpose God has for my life. I have a new church family that shows me love and keeps me accountable to God. My relationships with family, and friends is much better now with a much stronger foundation than ever before. Iam currently in a God-centered relationship with a girl that is the healthiest relationship I have ever been in. I know I am a different person now and growing better each day. Each day I work to become more like the person Jesus was when He lived among us in this world. My life mission is to love others, serve others and spread the Good News to others.
I would like to encourage all of you to think about writing your own God Story and work on being able to tell it to others so if they ask you, you will be ready. If you would like to share your God Story on this blog, I would love to hear it. Just leave it in the comments part of this blog.