You may have decided you really do want your students to learn how to share their faith effectively. You know it involves more than teaching them to tell others Jesus loves them and to attend church or read their Bible. What may leave you puzzled is the best way to prepare them for the many different types of opportunities God will give them to share their faith over the years.
Sharing their Faith in God effectively, doesn’t require your students to know absolutely everything about the Bible. The New Testament hadn’t even been written down yet in one of the fastest growth times of the Church. Sharing their faith doesn’t require your students to be polished public speakers. Evidently the Apostle Paul struggled with that aspect a bit. It doesn’t even mean your students have to live perfect lives all of the time. None of us has ever mastered that.
Faith sharing by your students will be more effective though if they work on some of the following spiritual “skill sets”:
- Bible Knowledge – To be able to share their faith effectively, your students need to have some basic Bible knowledge in their heads and hearts. Yes, the internet can help them find the scriptures they want quickly, but they have to know a little about the scripture to be able to find it easily. Sometimes, they may be in a situation when a person wants a quick answer that doesn’t leave time for searching. Your students need to be able to tell the basic story of how God created a perfect world and how sin ruined that perfection. They need to be able to tell others the basic story of how God prepared the world for the coming of Jesus. They need to be able to share a lot of the stories from the life of Jesus. They need to know the commands Jesus and the New Testament writers gave us to follow.
- An Awareness of What God Has Done In Their Lives – Those who are the most effective at sharing their faith are also often the ones who can share stories of how they have seen God working in their own life. Your students need to think about and be able to share all of the many ways God touches their lives and helps them. They need to begin to understand the Holy Spirit and not only how he helps them in life, but also that he can help them while they are sharing their faith.
- A Heart For Sharing Their Faith – Your students need to develop a passion for sharing their faith. Today’s world will find lots of ways to discourage them from telling others about Jesus. They need to feel the call from God to tell others about Him as one of their top priorities in life. If your students don’t really care or understand the need for sharing their faith, all of the training and preparation in the world will be wasted. They will never use it -even when given an opportunity.
- A Love For Others – One of the motivations for your students sharing their faith should be the incredible love they have for others. A love strong enough to overcome any sense of possible embarrassment that may come from attempting to share their faith. A love so strong it will do anything to help others go to Heaven instead of Hell when they die. A love willing to go to unpleasant and inconvenient places to share about God with those who may never learn about Him otherwise.
- Empathy for Others – Often Christians serve others with sympathy rather than empathy. Sympathy increases the emotional distance between the person serving and the person being served. If the distance becomes too great, our brains de-humanize the person – or in our case remove the idea that they even have a soul needing saving. Empathy not only tries to see the world from the viewpoint of the person being served, but is intentional about finding bridges – things they have in common. That effort to make the emotional distance as small as possible can make a huge difference in how effective the faith sharing of your students will be.
- People Skills/Emotional Intelligence – These are skills like active listening, asking respectful questions, being respectful and considerate, encouraging and many more (think Fruit of the Spirit). The more of these skills your students begin to master, the more people will be willing to listen when your students begin to share their faith.
- The Mechanics of Faith Sharing – These are the basic tools for studying the Bible with others. We will discuss those in more depth over the next couple of weeks. Your students will need to learn how to assess where someone is on their spiritual walk, what the opportunity they have with the person gives them the time to do, what first steps they may need to take before beginning the Bible study and then how to actually study the Bible with others.
It sounds like a lot, but remember this is a process. As a a teacher, you are sowing the seeds of what your students will need to know and practice to share their faith effectively. Work some of these topics into your regular lessons. Give your students practice and challenges to practice them outside of class. Begin preparing them so when the opportunity arises, they will be prepared.