There are 4 ways to build our faith sharing courage. I have found that these are a great way of helping people to be more confident in talking about their faith.
1) Know that we are the right people, right place and are there at the right time
2) Discover that people generally have very positive views about Christians
3) Cultivate a sense of belonging to the intimate relationship with God. And a sense of the broader and longer and deeper – that is, we are beloved children of God, eternally loved and part of the worldwide body of Christ.
4) Stop putting ourselves under pressure to know everything – the ‘all I know is… is often enough. We already know enough to be able to witness to the presence of Jesus in our lives.
Let’s dig into these 4 points.
Right people, right place, right time
What does this mean?
Right people for faith sharing
For those people who would want to know more about Jesus, we are their friends. We are the people who they trust. Those people also know us better than they know the local minister!
We are in the right place to share our faith
Have you ever been the person in just the right place to help someone else out of a situation? Or has someone been there for you?
For people looking for Jesus, we are the ones who are in the right place to speak for God, and to serve him by serving others.
Mordecai challenged his sister, Queen Esther. When the Jews were threatened with annihilation, she could not stay silent. Mordecai sent the message to her,
“…who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
(Esther chapter 4 vs 14)
God is in charge, and his timing is perfect. Read Ecclesiastes chapter 3 vs 1, and Romans chapter 5 vs 6 as examples.
We are the right people, in the right place, at the right time.
People Like Us
Another feature of the Talking Jesus research points to what people think about Christians.
Possibly because of the media, we seem to think that because we are Christians people don’t like us. Or at least, they don’t like what we stand for. But the truth is quite different. People do like us!
This is what many people say of their Christian friends. They are friendly, caring, good humoured, generous, encouraging, and hopeful.
Sense of belonging
I have been the Faith Sharing Enabler in Bath and Wells diocese for two years now. And I’ve discovered that a sense of belonging is crucial for faith sharing courage.
Why this is, to be honest, I am not completely sure. But I see it repeatedly. Perhaps it is because by belonging we don’t feel we are the only ones who believe. Or as Ecclesiastes puts it,
a cord of three strands is not easily broken, referring to people supporting one another
(Ecclesiastes chapter 4 vs 9-12)
So, what might help people have a sense of belonging?
It is quite wide. It is as close as the intimate relationship with God, and all the way out to membership of the eternal body of Christ! The greater the sense of belonging to that full range of connections, the more courageous people seem to be.
This is how it breaks down:
- Know you belong to and feel loved by Christ and know his presence with you.
- Belong to a community of believers
- Develop a sense of kinship with the national and international body of Christ
Here are a few ideas that might help with that sense of belonging.
First, speak with your minister and ask if they can keep you up to date with ongoings in the diocese, and at a national level. We have various structures including synods, which give us reports and can be accessed through the internet or through dedicated newspapers. Don’t always take the various national media channels including the tv and regular newspapers word for word. Rather, use the Church of England news paper and Church Times as news sources.
Our Bishops offer us good information, along with the Connect emails from our comms team – if you don’t get those then please take advantage by subscribing here.
For international, starting to pray for mission agencies are a great way to start.
Some examples to start with could be
- Open Doors
- Wycliffe Bible Translators
- Transform Europe Network
- Overseas Mission fellowship
If you frequent social media, then discovering content which is put out from the above organisations (including our own diocese on Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Facebook) will keep you up to date with many things to pray for on a daily basis.
Some work being done by Transform Europe Network suggests that when we are praying for other those in other countries, it leads to our own enthusiasm for our own mission where we live.
- Having a sense of what the bible refers to as being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, which is timeless. (Hebrews chapter 12 vs 1) may also help you develop your faith sharing courage. It’s about that sense you aren’t on your own. And developing that feeling of broad and deep in the sense of around the world now, and back in history. In the same way that we have a physical heritage, we also have a spiritual heritage.
The principle of ‘all I know is’
Do we worry that when asked a question, we must have all the right theological type answers? Perhaps need to sound as clever as the vicar or minister.
The principle of ‘all I know is’ is based on three bible passages.
The first is the man who met Jesus who was born blind(John chapter 9). He didn’t know the answers to the Pharisees’ questions about who Jesus was Instead he kept saying what his experience was ‘All I know is I was blind and now I see.’.
All we need to do at first isshare our experience of knowing Jesus and what difference he has made to our lives, tiny or enormous:the short stories of God at work in our lives day to day. Then the long story of how we came to faith. We can even practice both these things in the mirror!
It would also be good to know how those stories point God’s character. It may be no more than ‘God did this because he loves and forgives me’!
The other two stories have similar principles behind them. The story of the boy with 5 loaves and 2 fish, which Jesus used to feed thousands of people (John chapter 6 verse 9).
And the story of the widow who put far less in the collection box than any of the rich people. In both we could say that all they had (as in ‘they had just…only…not much’) was ALL THEY HAD – everything (emphasis purposefully added here).
In God’s hands, the little you think you have, if it is all you can offer, is transformed, and can achieve amazing things. Your small stories in God’s hands with the right people, in the right place, at the right time can have an incredible impact.
So our faith sharing courage can be strengthened by knowing who, where and when we are matters and is God’s perfect timing. That people like us already and are our friends. That we belong to God and to the body of Christ. And we already know enough to be able to witness to Jesus in our lives.