Since your first awareness of God’s presence in your life, you’ve had a story worth telling.
Your classmates, family, and friends who hear your story will benefit in many ways. They will benefit spiritually, hearing your firsthand testimony about Jesus’ presence, beauty, and love. They will also know you more deeply. In “The Four Loves,” C.S. Lewis observed that friendships deepen as they orient around a shared love. By sharing your love for God (one-on-one or in a small group or with your friends and family if you’re heading home for Christmas), you’re giving people a chance to deepen their relationship with you.
The thought of sharing your faith story may fill you with a lot of different thoughts and feelings. This is normal.
I imagine most of the excitement comes from a sincere love of your friends and a desire to see God move in their lives. Writing in a journal has helped me focus my excitement into specific desires and prayers for my friends. I picture myself sitting with Jesus and asking him what he sees when he looks at these friends.
The nervousness is normal too. It’s impossible to share something so personal without feeling at least a little bit vulnerable. Since you’re sensitive to others’ thoughts and opinions, you’ll likely feel the need to protect yourself from the vulnerability.
I’ve found the best way to pray about this vulnerability is to do a simple breath prayer from 1 John 4:18. As you breathe in, pray, “There is no fear in love.” As you breathe out, pray, “But perfect love casts out fear.” Then imagine Jesus looking at you with love, ready to hear you tell your story.
As a writer and preacher, I want to say so many things about this topic, but I don’t want to complicate something meant to be simple and beautiful. Jesus doesn’t need our stories to be curated and photoshopped. A simple, clear story told with sincerity is often better than a long, complicated story that seems rehearsed. Still, a little planning ahead of time using practical guides like those below can help you prepare your faith story.
Find the Focus
First, see if you can identify the focus of your faith story. Sometimes we think our faith story is limited to a moment of conversion or awakening. These are important stories, but so are stories about answered prayer, discoveries of God’s love and beauty, or ways we’ve experienced healing or transformation over the course of our lives. So prayerfully ask yourself what’s the story you’re being invited to share. Try writing a simple description of the story in 15 words or less.
Make a List
Now make a list of the relevant ways God took action to bring about the change in your life. Don’t worry about putting these sentences together in a comprehensive story just yet. The point is to capture how you experienced God. Be concrete and descriptive. For example:
When I first met Martin, I thought, That guy knows God …
What if it’s true, I wondered. What if Jesus really could break my chains of addiction, hate, and selfishness?
Making this list may draw you to a deeper appreciation for what God’s done. You may find yourself drawn to worship. This list will also help you identify and emphasize those parts of the story where Jesus is the actor. It may help you even feel less self-conscious.
Put It Together
See if you can put it all together as a simple cohesive story. Don’t worry if it takes a few tries. Keep at it until you have a simple faith story you can tell in one paragraph. Keep coming back to your story focus sentence and make sure you’re telling the story you mean to tell.
Refine Your Story
Once you have your story paragraph, you can revise and refine it. Is there some Scripture that’s meaningful or illustrative? Can you sharpen the language to be simpler and clearer? Try reading your story out loud. Does it sound like you? Share it with someone you trust who can give you honest and encouraging feedback. You may also consider closing your story with a question or invitation to keep the conversation going. Here’s an example based on my faith story.
I stopped believing that God was real or relevant around fifth grade. After my church leader Dad hit me, I figured God either didn’t exist or didn’t care. But then as a college freshman, I met Martin. That guy knows God, I thought. I wanted to know more about him but was afraid. I’d developed destructive habits and relationships over the years. I was ashamed of my habitual addictions, hate, and lies. But I really wanted to be like Martin. One day he said, “God doesn’t see you through your past mistakes. He sees you as you are. And he sees who you can become in his love.” This idea shook me on the inside. I asked Martin how this could be true, and he told me the story of Jesus. He said that Jesus’ death meant that the chains of addiction, hate, and deception that felt so overpowering to me were broken, and that if I wanted to, I could live in friendship and freedom with God as a follower of Jesus. In John 8:36, Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” That day, I experienced Jesus’ words coming true in me. I’ve been living in friendship and freedom with Jesus ever since.
How would you describe your experience of God? Would you like to explore the freedom and friendship of Jesus?
Your story may not look like mine, but it’s just as powerful. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to give us power to bear witness (Acts 1:8). The fact that you’re reading this, that you want to share your story is evidence that the Holy Spirit’s already at work, already empowering you for this meaningful step.
I’m excited for you! I pray that the Spirit would work more powerfully through your faith story than you can ask or imagine!
"To be human is to be lonely," writes InterVarsity staff leader Jason Gaboury, repeating the words from his spiritual director that set him on a surprising journey with God. This book is a gift to all of us in this time of extreme disruption, prolonged uncertainty, and, yes, intensified loneliness.
Now I often find myself hunched over my phone in line at the grocery store or sitting in my car checking TikTok for some fresh hits of dopamine before I set out on my way. It’s like I’d rather have something take up the space in my mind than be alone with the quiet of my own thoughts anymore.