Simple Steps to Faith Sharing

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According to the REVEAL survey (taken by thousands of churches and hundreds of thousands of believers) only 19% of church goers have a faith conversation with an unbeliever 6 or more times a year. For CRC congregations that have taken REVEAL, the average is just 12%. In his book Growing True Disciples, George Barna suggests that one in eight adult believers feel prepared to share their faith in an effective way. This is far from Peter’s expectation in I Peter 3:15 where he writes, “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have, doing so with gentleness and respect.”

How can this pattern of inactive faith sharing be changed in a local congregation? 

One solution is to baby step the congregation through a faith sharing journey. The first step focuses on teaching them to share a “God-Word.” God-words are good words highlighting that we “revere Christ as Lord.” This can happen in a variety of ways. For example, it begins by making Scripture and faith testimonies obvious in our homes and work places so guests or customers see evidence of our faith. Additionally, it can be drawing a text for each day from our “chair time” and praying that the Lord will give opportunity to share this God-word with someone we meet. Or it can be a statement we use in response to everyday questions that naturally accompany conversation. For example, if someone asks you as a believer about your day, you could respond, "Yes, thanks, God's been good to me today." 

A congregation should practice God-words for a few months and share how these God-words open doors. When that practice becomes comfortable, the next step is writing and sharing a testimony.  A testimony focuses on the difference Christ has made in a believer’s life without sharing the full Gospel story. Generally, it’s a short 3-4 minute story that names what life was like before a person met Christ, how Christ came into life and how life has changed as a result of Christ’s presence. For believers who grew up in the faith, a testimony names what life was like before Christ became central, how a person grew closer to Christ, and how this personal relationship has enhanced life.

Everyone should be encouraged to write out their testimony and share them with a couple believers until it feels comfortable and natural. When the testimony flows easily, they should begin praying for an opportunity to share this testimony with someone who is on a journey to God.

Finally, after a few months practicing God-words and testimonies, a congregation will be ready to invest in learning a clear and easy to remember Gospel-telling process.  There are many Gospel-telling methods but all Gospel stories must include the three essentials of sin, salvation and service.  Whatever method is chosen, that method should be spoken every Sunday morning from the pulpit. Repetition from the pulpit reinforces learning in the pew.

For a worksheet on writing testimonies and a simple method for faith sharing called “The Five Fingered Gospel,” please contact the Church Renewal Lab at churchrenewal@calvinseminary.edu or leave a comment below! 

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Great article! Also want to invite readers to check out the Faith Storytelling toolkit from Faith Formation Ministries . . . it offers dozens of practical, doable ways to shape and share testimonies and faith stories. You'll find it at crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits.

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Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). This three hour interactive seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 6) Go and Tell is free online at www.fortwaynecrc.com

Thanks for this article.  I wonder if you could share a story of how this has played out?  It would be so helpful to read an example of how this has been put into practice. 

I have seen that one of the pieces of sharing a faith story is the need to develop relationships with people who are far from God.  As we develop relationships, we begin to see the places where someone might be open to something of the Gospel story.  In my experience, I've had opportunity to share really only once I've developed a relationship.  The sharing typically takes on a unique shape, depending on the story of the person I'm connecting with.  Also, the story is told over time, through the rhythms of life - rhythms of eating together and simply doing life together.  We need to know the basics of sharing a faith story, certainly.  However, the relational piece of ministry I believe is equally important.  Many of us struggle to get beyond our church community.  We need to rub shoulders with people so that they will "ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have".  

I hope you will share a story, to give a context for faith sharing. 

Thanks!

Thanks Marian for your insights and your question.  

Yes, you are exactly right that sharing faith is all about relationships. Relationships are God's tilled field for the Gospel.  The Church Renewal Lab emphasizes this reality as we teach the importance of nurturing a "personal parish" where everyone invests in intentional relationships with those God places in our path.  

 

The three-step plan suggested in this article seeks to provide simple training so followers of Jesus are able to give answer to the hope that is within them.  Recently I put this into practice with a young person God put in my path.  Our first meeting was not faith connected but during subsequent gatherings I began to introduce "God-words" into our conversation so he understood that I was a person of faith.  During an extended coffee time a couple months later I asked if I could share my testimony with him and when he tragically lost a couple friends in a drowning accident I was able to share the hope of the Gospel.  

Moving from God-words, to testimony to sharing the Gospel has been an important part of my own faith sharing journey.

Thanks Keith, that's helpful!

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