Jesus and the Art of Gospel Storytelling
By Rev. John B. Sorensen
Evangelism Explosion International
Dr. D. James Kennedy, the founder of Evangelism Explosion, once said to me, “John, stories are like windows. They allow people to see what you’re talking about and truly understand!” I love that definition.
Stories can help us share the Gospel too. And one of the most powerful forms of storytelling is our personal testimony—stories about how God saved us and how He is working in our lives. These stories encourage others and can communicate deep spiritual truths.
Study the way Jesus told stories. Then think about your own story. Write it out and practice sharing it so you will be ready. Then look for opportunities to share it.
Keep it short. Jesus didn’t spend hours explaining every detail of a story. He shared what was necessary to get His point across. He kept it brief. I’ve found that shorter testimonies, no longer than two or three minutes long, work the best. They keep your listener interested, engaged, and wanting more.
Identify with others. Jesus told stories about situations His listeners could easily understand. He spoke about farming, giving coins in the synagogue, and various Jewish traditions. Not everyone we speak with needs to hear our entire life story. Sharing it would take too much time. Pick a story from your walk with God that relates to what your listener is going through. With one person, you may share how you got saved. With another, you may share a story about how God provided for you in a difficult situation. Listen carefully to other people when they talk to you. They will provide clues to the kind of encouragement they need to hear.
Avoid Christian jargon. Even though Jesus’ parables revealed deep spiritual truths, He kept them simple. The language was clear and understandable. We must remember that not everyone we speak with has a church background. They may not understand Christian phrases like “born again” or “sanctification.” Keep your language simple and relatable. Your God story has the opportunity to draw them to Jesus. Don’t confuse them with words or phrases that need further explanation.
Focus on God’s faithfulness. Jesus emphasized the positive. His stories ended with a challenge to approach life differently. They invited change. Likewise, if we emphasize our sinful nature and all of the horrors of our past life, we have missed the point. We are sharing about God’s faithfulness and the hope of salvation. Briefly summarize your life before Christ, but focus on how you came to know Him and the change He has made in your life. This naturally invites a response from your listener.
Our stories can be powerful. They contain our personal experience with a living God and can entice others to want to experience that power too. Consider how you can incorporate your own God stories as you share the Gospel with others. If you’d like help in developing your testimony, check out our free testimony-building tool at WhatsMyStory.org.
Rev. John B. Sorensen, D.D. is the President/CEO of Evangelism Explosion International, headquartered in Arden, N.C. EE has been a leader in equipping Christians to share their faith for more than 50 years. For more free tips and resources, visit evangelismexplosion.org, or follow John on Twitter, @jbsoresen.
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