Have you ever noticed how much people love “before & after” stories? Turn on the TV at any given time, and you’ll find at least one channel featuring a story about a massive home reno, people losing weight, or money coaches helping people get out of debt.
What is it that makes us love them? I think it’s that these stories offer hope. Transformation happens right in front of our eyes, and suddenly we realize change is possible. We start considering whether change could happen in our own lives. We’re inspired.
One of the best things you can do to nudge people towards considering Jesus is to share your own “before & after” story — the story of how Jesus has transformed your life. Your story has incredible potential. It can be the catalyst the Holy Spirit uses to help your friends open up to change, or to realize that change is possible for them too with Jesus.
Sharing your story is not a new idea. In the gospels, this happens all the time. People whose lives are changed by Jesus have a tendency to drop what they’re doing and start spreading the Good News. When Matthew the tax collector quits his lucrative job to follow Jesus, he immediately puts on a “great Banquet for Jesus at his house”; he invites all his tax collector friends to meet Jesus for themselves (Luke 5:29).
Your story matters.
So what will make your story inspiring for someone who doesn’t know Jesus? Here is where you need to do a little soul-searching and a lot of praying.
Begin with your “before.” What were you seeking? Maybe you craved acceptance, so you went along with the crowd. Maybe you craved success, so you put your career ahead of everything. Maybe you craved security, so you tried to control everything and everyone.
Then talk about your “after”. Share how your relationship with Jesus has satisfied that longing. How does his grace influence you? How has he kept his promises to you? How have his plans proven better than your own?
It can sometimes be tempting to make your story out to be more dramatic than it is, but our experiences are all different! Some of us grew up in Christian families or made a commitment to Jesus at a young age, and it may be hard for us to remember life before Jesus.
Even if that is the case, your life has been a spiritual journey. You’ve needed and experienced transformation. Can you think of a struggle that God has walked you through? A time when you experienced his faithfulness? People need to hear such stories, and you’re the only one who can share yours.
Now that you’re ready to communicate your story, here are some helpful tips:
1. Choose your focus. You don’t need to tell your whole life story. Just focus on the parts where you experienced God most at work in your life. A great place to start is with a struggle you’ve had; think of how you faced that problem with Jesus. What was the initial problem or pain you experienced? Try to keep your story short, no more than 600 words long.
2. Be authentic. When it comes to telling your story, a little vulnerability goes a long way. You don’t need to go into details that are embarrassing or private, but you do need to share enough to make your story interesting. Your authenticity will draw people in and show them how real your faith is.
3. Make it relatable. Your experience is not exclusive. By sharing how God changed your situation, you will help your audience consider how they could encounter God too. Also, make sure to use down-to-earth language. Avoid using expressions that only Christians would understand. Sayings like “washed in the blood of the lamb,” or “open the door of your heart” might be fine at church, but they’ll make what you say less understandable to the people you’re trying to reach.
4. Give an invitation. Your main goal should be to start a spiritual conversation. End your story by telling them you’d love to answer any questions they may have and that you’d like to help them on their spiritual journey if they want. By communicating your genuine interest in them, you encourage them to open up to you. You may also wish to be more direct by inviting them to make a decision to follow Jesus that very day. But don’t worry about including a pray-with-me moment. You can save that for a later time.
5. Remember to pray. Pray for wisdom, asking the Spirit to give you the right words to say. Try to discern which parts of your life story God wants you to share in the specific situation you are in.
If you would like encouragement and prayer as you start to share your story, talk to one of our confidential mentors by using the form below. We would love to hear about how you’ve stepped out in faith, and support you in the journey.
Your story matters. God is personally invested in you. He wants to use your story to make his Son known.
The questions below will help you put your story into words. Your answers will go to a coach who will give you valuable feedback on how to best communicate your story.