My hope is in the Lord Who gave Himself for me,
And paid the price of all my sin at Calvary.
For me He died, For me He lives,
And everlasting life and light He freely gives
— Hymn, For me he died, for me he lives
God’s love has worked in your life
Jesus died for you.
His death paid the price for the forgiveness of your sins.
His death and resurrection paved the way for you to enjoy fellowship with God forever.
You have been reconciled to the Father and you can now discover the outrageous love of the Father for you.
It’s the greatest story every told.
But we fail to tell the story
We think we know the gospel story.
But when we are put on the spot, in some random moment in a spiritual conversation, we grasp at fog.
We stumble for words.
We are not sure where to start.
We start off in one direction, and then change direction in the middle of a thought.
Most of us have fallen short in mastering being able to tell the greatest story ever told.
We might be good at telling stories
But telling people the actual gospel leaves us speechless or disorganized.
Tell the gospel story well in real life
I once challenged a teen in my youth group to tell the gospel story to a friend.
She was nervous about it, but she knew the major movements of the gospel story.
- God loves us, but sin separates us from God
- God’s love didn’t leave us without a solution.
- God demonstrated his love in Christ’s death and resurrection.
- That if we believe and confess, receive him, we become a follower of Christ.
As her gospel sharing conversation proceeded, even with conversational detours, she confidently moved through them.
At the end, her friend simply said:
No one has ever shared it so clearly before. Now I know what it means when they say “Christ died for me.”
How could this teen tell the story so well?
Even when there were conversational detours?
It is because she had memorized a gospel story and mastered the outline.
We reviewed one quarterly in our youth group.
I made everyone practice it on a regular basis.
Because she knew the outline, she could calmly and clearly communicate.
Lesson learned the hard way
A self declared non-Christian friend asked me one time:
“Chris, what is the Gospel?”
I had the perfect opportunity to explain the gospel simply and clearly.
Instead, my explanation was a clear as the muddy Mississippi River during a flood.
After that moment, I decided that I needed to learn a script so that I’d not be caught unprepared again. In God’s sovereignty, my friend eventually came to faith, but certainly not because of my eloquently clear presentation.
To master this conversational story, find one of the gospel scripts and master it.
Here are a handful of gospel scripts.
- Four Spiritual Laws
- The Bridge (see How to Use the Bridge Illustration)
- Evangecube (see Evangecube video)
- Way of the Master
- Romans Road
- Do vs. Done (see Do versus Done, read it through this book)
- the Four Rs
- Evangelism Explosion
- Wordless Book and the Bead Bracelet
- The Good Person Test (a setup for the Way of the Master)
- The gospel in six words.
- The Big Story (see The Big Story James Choung)
I personally have chosen the bridge illustration
The Key to Using a Gospel Story
The key to using gospel scripts is to know ONE “inside out”so that your explanation is crystal clear, but doesn’t seem scripted.
Meaning that you can use it
- at any given moment,
- can “do it in your sleep”
- without having to think too hard.
- without hyperventilating
- without forgetting where you are out.
- without a fear of lack of words or not knowing what to say.
Once you are deeply familiar with one, then add another one to your skill set.
The Problems with memorized gospel stories
1. Theological debates
Some will find fault with the theology of certain gospel presentations.
No script is able to capture the full richness of the gospel in 3 or 4 propositional points.
While I think all of us would agree on the main points, some of the theological nuances will be points of difference.
For example, I know people who think the Four Spiritual Laws is wrong because it starts in the wrong spot.
Others believe the gospel is all about law and sin, and so the starting point must be the 10 commandments.
Each of these scripts deal with the problem of sin, but how they discuss sin is often related to some theological presuppositions.
For example, read are you a Genesis 3 Christian? Would sin have been the best starting point for her?
Or for a different point, where would you start the gospel with a member of an indigenous tribe who doesn’t have a Western worldview, but worships an alligator?
The solution is to find a gospel version that fits your theological stream that you can be comfortable with.
2. Using scripts by rote memory.
Following a script as exactly as possible can be as impersonal as calling a 1-800 number for customer service.
The customer service person in the remote call center has a script to follow, who doesn’t cares what you really need or are really asking.
For the user who is following the script as strictly as possible, the give and take of the conversation messes it up.
This leads to interior anxiety and frustration because it’s out of line.
I’ve talked with some who think a presentation doesn’t work (as if the gospel presentation is a magic formula) unless it’s followed exactly, which means there can be no give and take of a discussion.
I’ve encountered others who place so much emphasis on the right presentation, that their “conversations” are actually monologues led by their own rhetorical questions.
When we follow a script, we have to listen to the “customer” (don’t get carried away with my analogy) and respond appropriately with love. Conversational evangelism is sharing the good news of the gospel, not a canned product placement pitch.
Let me ask you this
Which script of those listed above do you know inside and out?
If you don’t know one, commit this week to learn one.
Want to watch more of my teaching on Spiritual Conversations?
This teaching set (download or DVD) can help you have more effective conversations with people when you discern where they are in their spiritual journey. Knowing where they are can help relieve the pressure of any conversation about Christ. Click the banner to read more.