Storytelling and Apologetics


(Kim O.) #1

I’m wondering if there are any storytellers out there? I want to write my story (testimony) but through an apologetics lens. I am getting speaking opportunities, but my heart is for the 18-30 year old. I have an opportunity at a Chrsitian college, but ultimately I’d like to be able to share my story almost without using any “church/God language” . But instead bring in things like probabilty statistic, etc.

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts as begin to work on this…there are key areas in most testimonies that there are these moments that I would say “that was so God” but I don’t want to do that. I want to assume the audience is a total pagan anti believing group. lololo.

And I’d be interested to know how you have used storytelling in your sharing overall :smile: im


(Melvin Greene) #2

This is a very good question, @Koberheu. It’s also a rather difficult one to answer, (at least for me). My own personal experience is that I learn the best through stories and allegories. I’m sure that’s common. Jesus spoke in parables to convey truth for two reasons.

One is that people can grasp truth easier when it’s related to every day living. For example, Jesus used agricultural terms a lot, because he addressed a lot of people who were farmers. Jesus understood his audience and spoke to them on their level.

The second reason was two fold. He purposely told parables that we’re difficult to understand at first blush so people were forced to think deeper and in different ways to discover the truth. In doing that the truth was embedded into their minds and they retained it better. I had an instructor who taught that way. The more you had to research and think on the information, the more information you retained.

The second reason was to sort of “weed out” those who were not really interested in learning the truth. As Jesus taught and performed miracles, he started to attract more and more people. I’m sure you remember the story of Jesus feeding a crowd of 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Thousands of people were attracted to him. But, Jesus knew that most of them only came out to see the “show”. They were wanting to be entertained. They weren’t interested in knowing the truth. So Jesus taught using an allegory that sounded like cannabolism. He told them that in order to have eternal life, they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Most people thought he had gone insane and left. The ones that were left were the ones who were totally committed to learning the truth.

In regards to how to get started, I would sit down and write out my testimony. It helps to have down on paper. That way, you can remember important details and it helps you get it straight in your head. Also, you can read through and edit it to pick out words and phrases that sound like “Christianeze”; terms like “born again”. Then you can work on breaking it down into secular terms. I’m sure there are stories in your life experience that people can relate to.

Another thing you can do is read Christian authors who are experts in story telling. Some of my favorites are C.S. Lewis, with his Narnia series, George MacDonald has several, too. Some modern authors that I recommend are Max Lucado, Ted Dekkard, and Frank Peretti. I have learned a lot from them.

I hope this helps. I pray the Lord will help you and give you ideas that would open up peoples minds to His truth. The Holy Spirit is the power behind our words to penetrate people’s hearts.


(SeanO) #3

@Koberheu Great question! Praise God you are getting opportunities to share His glory, grace, love and truth with others. I would like to push back a little on the idea that you should not mention God. Here are two articles - one from the C. S. Lewis Institute and one from Cru that help us understand how to share our testimony. I highly recommend giving them a read. I also included an article on how not to speak Christianese.

I would say that stories are one part of sharing our testimony - not the only part. In summary, my view is that When sharing our testimony with skeptics or those without our background we should still mention God and Jesus, but the way we do it should be altered for our audience so that what they hear is what we are trying to communicate. In essence, become a Greek to the Greeks, a Jew to the Jew and a skeptic to the skeptics that by all means we might save some. The C. S. Lewis institute article uses Paul’s address in Acts 17 as an example, which is a great place to start - since Paul used the inscription ‘to an unknown God’ to relate to his audience and pagan poetry in another passage.

Some of the advice from that articles that stood out:

  • be conversational and include human interest / jokes / stories
  • do not use Christianese or assume your audience will understand religious jargon (they offer some suggestions for how to replace common Christianese)
  • do not make it sound like your life became perfect after salvation
  • do not use phrases that skeptics can easily question - like “I prayed and God gave me a job”, etc. - try to be as skeptic friendly as possible while still communicating truth

C. S. Lewis Institute Guide to Sharing Testimony

Intervarsity article on How Not to Speak Christianese

Do those thoughts make sense to you? Do you have any push back against these ideas? Hope that is helpful. May the Lord open the eyes and hearts of those you witness to!

Baptizing the Imagination

While I think sharing our testimony does require mentioning God and Christ - peoples’ imaginations can be baptized by stories. The Chronicles of Narnia did this for me as a child and Lewis himself experienced this through MacDonald. The following article and excerpt describe this idea in more detail.

“Imagination played a key role in Lewis’ conversion.
Through the reading of George MacDonald’s Christian
fantasy, Phantastes, Lewis reported that a new
quality, “a bright shadow,” leapt off the page. Later he
described the new quality as “holiness,” recalling this
time as a baptism of his own imagination. Although
Lewis still needed to confront certain rational objections
to the Christian faith—and to finally submit his will to
what he had discovered—his “baptism of the imagination”
was the starting point in his journey to faith. In a
similar fashion, Lewis’ own fiction has resulted in the
same imaginative renewal for many people.”

Baptizing the Imagination Article