For a long time I was terrible about telling others about Jesus. It wasn’t that I didn’t try, it is just that it came out as a list of things that people were supposed to believe or do. I remember in 5th grade, trying to tell my friend about Jesus. I said that Jesus died on the cross. He asked why. I started a really long lecture that went from the Garden of Eden to Revelation – and totally confused him. I could tell by the end that my friend never wanted to have that conversation again. I was super bummed. Looking back, it would have been much more effective just to tell my friend why I believed in Jesus, and the difference He had made in my life. Sharing stories is one of the best ways to tell others about Jesus. This is probably why Jesus told so many stories. Jesus was a master storyteller.
It took me a long time to get good at telling stories. At first, my stories rambled on, with many tangents, and didn’t really ever arrive at the point. So here is goal #1: good stories have a point. Telling stories is part of my job – I tell stories in developing people and in preaching. Maybe I should change my job title to “Professional Storyteller”? Probably not – because I still have a lot of work to do. I used to ask Hannah to evaluate my teaching or preaching, and she would almost always ask, “What was the point of that story you told?” I would tell her the point – which was clear in my head but not clearly communicated. Details are good but too often people lose the point when we give too many details. Telling someone a story is like going on a little road trip: it feels good to get to the destination, so don’t take too long to get there! How has Jesus changed your life? How did you grow to trust Him more? Tell some good stories.
I have a few stories that I have told repeatedly – probably fifty times or more. These stories are always better than my new stories. Telling stories well requires practice. Good stories have a rhythm, and only once I have told a story a few times do I even understand how it can best be told. For preaching, this means I rehearse my entire sermon out loud, especially my stories, at least three times before I ever get on stage. For sharing stories with individuals, I have found it helpful to have a few key stories that are adaptable to many different situations. When I gave my life to Christ, I was struggling with acceptance, insecurity, pleasing others, purpose, and hypocrisy. I have told my conversion story with many different beginnings – always ending with the overwhelming love of Christ that called me. Take some time to remember your stories with Jesus, then take even more time to practice those stories with people. You will get better over time.
When I was a teenager, riding my bike, I got into a car accident. The car didn’t hit me, I hit the car! I was unsafely crossing a major street. I looked left then right, and there were no cars. Then I kept looking to the left as I crossed the street. WHAM! The next thing I knew, I was staring at the sky and confused. I quickly realized that I had hit a car. As a teen, my first concern was not with my safety; it was with getting in trouble! I picked up my bike to ride away, but my heart sank when I saw that my front tire was in the shape of a taco shell. The person I hit drove me home, and I am totally fine (though my sister says she suspects mental damage). My dad, about a week later, bought me a new bike, which really hit me: this act of undeserved love helped me understand Jesus so much more. My mom, a couple of days after the accident, sat me down and said, “You need to understand that this was a miracle. Your friend’s mom called me and said that you flipped two times in the air. But you landed on the ground without a scratch. God’s angels caught you, and He saved you for a reason.” Wow, that hit me like a ton of bricks. I have always remembered this story; I know the Lord is with me. He saved me that day so that I could live a life following Him. Two years later, I surrendered my entire life to Jesus – the One who saved my life and gave His life for me.