BY GREG WEST
Are you sharing your story frequently? If not, ask the Lord to revive you, to awaken you to His Presence, power, grace and glory! If you want to or are sharing, here is a good framework to help: 1) My life apart from Christ 2) Coming to and encountering Christ 3) My life in Christ. Two mistakes we can make in sharing our faith are reducing faith to a formula and treating people as projects. Avoid these! Below is an example of a framework I use when meeting with someone I haven't seen in a very long time as well as some tips for having conversations with those who deny the existence of God.
Here is an example of a framework I use when meeting with someone I haven’t seen in a very long time. After catching up on some life events I ask:
Me: “Are you a person of faith?”
Them: “Yeah, I am, just trying to figure it out.”
Me: “Cool, I’d love to tell you my story if you’re up for it.”
Them: “Of course.”
I begin with my emptiness and my longing for something more, which made me a “Seeker.” I continue with my discovery of the Person of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels and hearing people share how God is active today.
“This shattered my previous image of God that I had – the lazy-boy-God. You see, I believed in God, but thought that God was a distant observer; a God who got things started, did some great things in biblical times, but is now in recline position watching what's going on here on planet earth. It’s hard to get excited about the lazy-boy-God. The more I read the Bible and sought God in prayer, the more I sensed a presence, an affirmation a drawing power that compelled me to seek more."
Here are some questions for someone who rejects the idea of God and may be an atheist. They likely don't want to be bothered by religion or a higher authority. Therefore, they deny the existence of God.
“Have you had any bad or negative experiences with the church or people of faith?”
This can be a whole conversation where if the answer is “Yes,” you can listen and empathize with them. I have on numerous occasions apologized for the “church” when a person shares a story of hurt, abuse or betrayal by the church.
“I am so sorry that this happened. Do you see that this person/these people were actually betraying Jesus by what they did/said?
The implication is Jesus remains faithful and true in spite of His followers.
When the person doesn’t seem to have negative experiences with the church and they are rejecting God on a more intellectual basis I ask:
Do you believe it’s more likely that everything came from nothing or that there is an intelligence behind all that is?
If the answer is “everything came from nothing,” i.e. atheism, here is a good follow up:
“So you think things like miracles in the Bible are not real, things like the virgin birth of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus? Don’t you think it takes more faith to believe everything came from nothing in contrast to there seems to be a design and order to humanity and the universe, so there is likely a Designer and Orderer to all that is?"
Here’s one more:
“You say that you don’t believe there is a God. Do you deep down, hope that you are wrong?”
The answer to this question may give you an opportunity to ask them more personal questions or to share how your life changed as you came to know Jesus.