Your stories are powerful!
Throughout the Bible, God has used the accounts of ordinary men and women to influence others. Stories are powerful for many reasons.
First, they are personal. The stories you have are not about some high and holy person, but an average person¾you!
Second, they cannot be argued with. No one can dispute your experiences. They may dismiss your conclusions as wishful thinking, but they cannot argue with your experience.
Third, people love stories. God has made us this way. What are movies, novels, and TV programs? Stories. The Old Testament from Genesis to Nehemiah is historical stories. What method did Jesus use most often to teach? Stories. God has made us to love and remember stories.
Fourth, they invite hope. If your story relates to the problems the listener is having, then it will give them hope. When you tell someone about how Jesus has changed your life for the better, they will listen.
Fifth, and most importantly, they are a biblical method of spreading the good news. In fact, Scripture records:
- Jesus commanded the demoniac: “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed. (Mark 5:19-20)
- The example of the woman at the well: Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:28-29)
- The example of the blind man: “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know, I was blind but now I see” (John 9:25).
- Paul’s example: Even with all his theological training, Paul used his conversion story when speaking with his fellow Jews (Acts 22:1-22) and when speaking with King Agrippa (Acts 26:1-23).
The Samaritan woman’s account was evidently powerful because “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:39). How much theology did she have right? Very little! But that did not stop her from telling her story to her friends.
In the same way, the beggar who was healed of his blindness told his story to the Pharisees. They wanted to prove Jesus was sinful. But his story stopped them in their tracks. Here’s the power of a story. Did the man have the answers to all their questions? Of course not. But the simple narration of how Jesus worked in his life confounded and convicted the religious leaders. Personal stories always triumph over theological bickering.
Your stories can also be that powerful!
Different Types of Stories You Have
Many evangelistic programs encourage you to develop your “testimony.” We will deliberately stay away from this word. In evangelical lingo, the word testimony has come to mean the story of your conversion. This works well for those who had a definite conversion as an adult or teenager. But if you professed Christ as a young child, you don’t have an adult conversion story. Does that mean you don’t have a story to tell?
The answer to this question is found in thinking more broadly about how God has worked in our lives. There are really three different types of stories you can develop.
- If you were saved as a teen or adult, then develop the story of how you were converted.
- But if you were saved as a child, you may be able develop the story of how you were convinced as a teen or adult. Many times, individuals who are truly saved as children, have a time of wandering or questioning in their teen or young adult years. Many times you are asking adult type questions. But when you come back to the Lord, you are coming back as an adult. The thoughts you had at that point are directly transferable to non-Christian adults.
- Finally, all of us can develop several stories of how we have coped with life’s common problems. The difference between the Christian and non-Christian is not that they have problems and we don’t. The difference is we have the Lord to rely on during those times.
The following worksheet has been put together to help you think about the different types of stories you may have.
Select it here Worksheet for Conversion, Convincing and Coping Stories