One skill every small group leader should have is the ability to talk with unbelievers about your experience of God in ordinary language that an unbeliever will understand—to share your story. In the church we use some specialized words like “repentance” and “being saved.” Of course, the average person who hasn’t been to church very often has no clue what these words mean.
But everybody in your group speaks English—at least a little—and every one of them has a story. They may not think their story is all that interesting, but unbelievers are interested in our experience of God—if we talk in ordinary language and if we give them brief pieces of our story that fit into an ordinary conversation.
A good way to do this is by shaping ahead of time how you would tell your story. Having your story prepared in your mind before an opportunity to share it arises helps you make the most of that sharing opportunity. Here are some guidelines on what you might include in your story:
1. What my life was like before I met Jesus. What substitutes for God I used to find meaning in life.
2. How I realized I needed Jesus.
3. How I committed my life to Jesus.
4. The difference this choice has made in my life.
For each of these categories, you should come up with a one-minute story to weave together—or to be individually popped into a conversation. If each part of your story goes on longer than one minute you will lose people’s interest.
Anyway, that’s just one way to tell your story. If you’ve been a believer since you were a child, you might tell a story about how you realized you were substituting something for God in your life, and how or why you stopped doing that. I’m sure you’ve been at least tempted to substitute something for God sometime in your Christian life. For many people, this can be work. For others, this may be money or success or the perfect family.
And these are all things an unbeliever can relate to. Your story will pack its biggest punch when you then tell the unbeliever why Jesus is better than these things.
Being asked to tell your story may make you feel like Moses when God told him to speak in front of others, and he said, “Oh Lord, I can’t do it! I am slow of speech and tongue!” And the Lord said, “I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” If you’re nervous about how you’ll tell your story, remember that God will help you as you write your story and as you share it with the group. This will be a powerful experience for everyone.