This week we looked at the “When” question of sharing our story. When do we share our story? When is that right moment to share our faith with another person?
Ruth was someone who did not grow up in the Israelite faith, and she never heard of Israel’s God. She lived in Moab and worshipped the gods of Moab. However, her life began to change as she encountered a new family in her hometown. This family migrated from Bethlehem to Moab because of a famine, and they lived quite differently from any other family in Moab. They worshipped the God of Israel and lived by different religious traditions. This family was Elimilech and Naomi and their sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Mahlon and Chilion married Moabite woman- Orpah (not Oprah 😉 and Ruth. Tragedy strikes when Elimilech, Mahlon, and Chilion die, which devastates the women in the family. Naomi decides to go back to her hometown in Bethlehem, and Orpah and Ruth follow her. Naomi urges them several times to turn back because there is more hope for them in Moab. Orpah ends up returning home, but Ruth declares her faithfulness to Naomi in the famous words: “Where you go, I will go; where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” How does Ruth get to the point of declaring “your God will be my God?”
Ruth’s faith declaration does not happen overnight, it happens over a period of time. It happens over multiple encounters with Naomi and her family and from seeing Naomi’s faith in God lived out day after day. It happened after Naomi sharing story after story about how her God changed her life and provided for the nation of Israel. Ruth’s declaration is the fruit of over a decade of Naomi bearing witness to the faith. The answer to the “when” question is that it occurs over time and through the building of authentic relationships. There is not necessarily a specific, perfect time to know the “when,” but what we do know is, that oftentimes, the “when” is born out of multiple conversations, in which trust built and relationships are deepened.
In Bob Farr, Doug Anderson, and Kay Kotan’s book, Get Their Name, they share some helpful steps for us in sharing our story to know the right moments of “when” to share. First, we listen for their story. We ask good, open-ended questions to allow them to share about their life. The second step is to watch for signals for them to ask you about your story and life. The third step is to consider “bridge-building phrases,” which could shift the conversation to talking about faith. We do this in a way that seems comfortable and natural, without being obnoxious or pushy. The fourth step is to know your elevator story. What is your two-minute story if someone were to ask you more about church and why you are a Christian? To prepare for that two minute story, consider the questions: Why God? Why the church? Why my church? The fifth step is to know your faith story. We have to know our faith story to be able to share it. Consider questions like: How and where has God worked or is working in your life? Where are you seeing God at work in your own life or in those of the people around you? What are those pivotal times in your life when you had a personal encounter with God?
One of the best invitations we see in the Bible is that of the Samaritan woman in John 4, when she invites the town to “come and see” this Jesus who changes lives and transforms our world!
Questions to Consider and Discuss:
1. Why is it important to listen to another person’s story before we share our own faith story?
2. Think about what your 2-minute elevator story would be if someone inquired more about your faith and beliefs. Consider the questions: Why God? Why the church? Why my church?
Monday: Ruth 1
Tuesday: Ruth 2
Wednesday: Ruth 3
Thursday: Ruth 4
Friday: John 4:27-42