(NOTE: This sermon series and devotional series is based on a book by Randy Frazee entitled, “BELIEVE.”
You may choose to download or purchase the book as a supplement to your worship and devotional emails.)
Everybody has a story.
Years ago there was a program on CBS news entitled, “Everybody has a story.” Steve Hartman, the reporter, set out to prove that anybody, anywhere, had a story worth knowing and telling. He would have participants at the end of each episode throw a dart at a map of the United States. Wherever the dart would land, would be where he would travel to find his next story. He would find a telephone booth (remember those?) with a telephone book (did we used to use those?) and open it up to a random page and point at a random person and call them up…and he had a story.
I couldn’t wait for the next episode because the story of ordinary people were intriguing and interesting. The premise has stuck with me for years…”Everybody has a story.”
This premise is a great place to start in thinking about sharing your faith. Before I get to God’s Story, I need to know what the other person’s story is.
The outline for this way of sharing your faith is this, “Your story; My story; His story.”
This part of the witness method is simply taking an interest (genuine interest) in the other person. Naturally it starts with the questions about family, kids, life, career, or dreams. Eventually though, a great question to lob into the middle of the discussion is this, “Would you mind telling me about your spiritual journey? What has formed the beliefs about faith and God you have today?”
Then listen. Ask more questions. You will see a theme arise. Perhaps that theme centers on feeling alone and God wasn’t there when they thought he should be. Perhaps it’s a theme that centers on a bad experience with the church and vowing never to set foot back in one. Perhaps it’s a theme that questions a lot about the Bible, Jesus as Savior and more. Listen for the theme – each person will be unique, but often have similarities in their underlying themes or stories.
As you listen to their story, you may hear a thing or two to which you can connect your story. “I hear you when you mentioned you felt all alone when life was really hard. To be honest I have felt in a similar way.”
A point of empathetic connection is a powerful way to build creditability and trust.
But you don’t want to end on your story, you want to tell God’s Story.
Perhaps a transition sounds like this, “When I have felt alone I’m reminded that God has always promised to be with me. ‘I am with you always to the very end of the age.’ What is so amazing about this is God can and does say, ‘Depart from me!’ to people who turn away from him. But to those that turn to Jesus and trust him, he says, ‘Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.’”
“God is not a God of abandonment, but a God of love and presence.
“So when I feel alone, I remember this promise and while I want other human connections, I always know that God’s love and presence are real.”
I know this is a bit choppy, but I pray you get the gyst of it:
- Your story: Get to know the person and their spiritual story.
- My story: Connect your story to their story and build the bridge to God’s story.
- His story: Address the theme of their spiritual story with a connection to God’s story and promises.
Have fun experimenting with this. The great thing about other’s stories is they are real and fascinating. When you take time to listen, you can hear a connection with your story. Once you have that trust, you can share a part of your story AND God-willing make the connection to HIS story!
Apply: What is YOUR story? We will look at this tomorrow, but in your own words tell your story. How can you use this to connect that person to HIS story, or invite them to a place that will connect them to God’s story.
Prayer: Thank you Lord for the journey of faith we are in. Please use us and the story we are living to connect people to YOUR story! AMEN.