In his book, Church Planting Movements, David Garrison tells the story of "John," who taught a group of thirty farmworkers how to tell their stories and encouraged them to tell their story to five people. After the first week, seventeen of the thirty had shared their story, but one farmer had shared with eleven people. So at the next class they encouraged one another by sharing their experiences and practiced telling their story again. After two months they had started twenty groups that were becoming churches. After seven months, that number grew to over three hundred groups and four thousand new believers. Just over a year later, nine hundred churches were meeting with more than twelve thousand new Christians.
This next series of blog posts will focus on key skills that we need within the house/simple/organic church context.
The ability to tell one's story is a powerful tool. Jesus often told people to tell the story of how he had touched them to others (eg Mark 5:18).
There are three occasions in the New Testament where Paul tells the story of how he met Jesus (Acts 22; Acts 26; Galatians 1). Each time, he uses the same pattern. He describes his life before he knew Jesus, he describes his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, and he tells what has happened since then.
Training others: A key skill for working with not-yet-believers is the ability to tell your story in non-religious language. It's an easy one to practice. Give people in your group a few minutes to think through the essential elements of their story, (what their life was like before Jesus intervened, how they met him and what has happened since) and then get them in pairs to practice. Each one should take only a few minutes, and the other member of the pair needs to stop them if ever they use religious language. Words such as salvation, redemption, even sin are taboo in this context. Each person should share. Then encourage them to find a natural context to tell their story during the coming week. Hopefully they are already praying for their not-yet-Christian friends, and these people would be a good to tell their story to.
As people get more practiced, they develop stories for any situation. They meet someone who admits to financial problems. They can share: "I had a situation like that once… " and then they tell the story of how Jesus met their financial needs and they offer to pray with the person. Remember, we are looking to bring a person face-to-face with the God who meets people at their point of need. When prayer is answered, it's easy to present the message of the Kingdom.
The most important time for a person to tell his story to others is immediately after he has found the Lord, and this should be encouraged.
Key verse: 1 Peter 3:15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.