I find that conversations are a natural part of life – whether it’s with family, friends or someone you’ve just met. Many times these conversations are an exchange of ideas or stories about things in life. Everyday stuff like; kids, your spouse, jobs, technology (yeah, it’s what I do), sports, current events. But sometimes, in the midst of the conversation, I feel this nudge down deep inside me. This nudge to level up the conversation. A nudge that says, “This person needs to experience Jesus more fully.” I call these moments “God Encounters”. And they can’t be forced or contrived. So you ask, “Yeah, I’ve felt that nudge but how…? How can I go from listening to (fill in the blank here) to talking about how to find/see/feel/experience God in the midst of that.
I can share what I’ve found works for me. Most conversations happen in the context of telling stories. People normally don’t blurt out – “I’m struggling with my job,” but they’re telling a story about something that happened at work that they’re trying to come to grips with. Therefore, responding with a story in return is very natural. I’ve got my own stories about struggling at work. But how is that creating a God Encounter? It’s when you intentionally link your story with something God did. This is usually called a testimony. It’s not necessarily about how you decided to follow Jesus, but it’s always about how Jesus has and is working in your life. The key is that He is the star of the story, not you.
“Ok,” you say, “I think I could do that”… but here’s the tough part… This requires you to be humble and vulnerable.Something we often have a hard time with. Humble in that you’re not the hero in your story – God is. And vulnerable in that you’re revealing a weakness, where you needed God to make it better.
Depending on your personality, you may or may not be the kind of person that opens up on this level. I would encourage you to just match the level of the person you’re talking to. That’s what they are doing in their story – they’re revealing that they’re struggling and don’t know where to turn? You’re just being the same as them only you’re revealing the missing part of their story – that God engages with our stories, our valleys and our peaks, if they will only let Him.
I often have this secret fear that when I share something about God, that people will start to get aggressive or something. But in my experience I’ve found that when we share personal stories of how God has entered into my own challenges, it’s difficult for people to dispute it – after all, it is our experience. If it is a person that the Holy Spirit is already working in, they usually really connect with what I’m sharing. If I find resistance, then pull back a bit. There’s no need to force the issue. We’re just looking for the open doors that God has already created, and is just asking us to step through.
Sometimes we don’t have a personal story to share. At these times, I recommend sharing the greatest story of all – the Gospel story. This is the story from the beginnings of creation to Jesus Christ coming to reconnect us with our heavenly father through his death and resurrection. We call it the “Creation to Christ” story (or C2C Story for short). If you’re not sure how you would tell this story, we’ve created a smartphone app to help teach you the story and gives you visuals to be there when you present the story. Check it out at http://C2CStory.com
But whether it’s your personal stories or the C2C Story that you’re going share, take the time to practice telling these stories before hand. You want to be able to present them in a confident and natural way.