Shane Stacey is national director of ReachStudents and a member of First EFC in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
I want every student to have these three competencies so they can live on mission in everyday life:
Jeff Vanderstelt and the good people at SOMA created a helpful tool that uses the outline of God’s story to help people tell their story with Jesus as the hero. It also helps people learn to listen to the stories of others in order to make gospel connections.
“Every follower of Jesus has a story to tell, and it’s a story about God and his grace. However, many of us have not been equipped to tell our story in such a way that it points to Jesus as the hero. As those who want to show and share Jesus every day, it’s imperative that we learn to talk about him through the medium of our stories. Often, telling our story will be the most natural way to talk to our not-yet-believing friends about Jesus.
Every great story contains four movements: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. God’s Story follows the same pattern. God’s Story is the Great Story, the story that helps us make sense of all other stories. God’s Story is the ultimate Good News, the gospel that we find on the pages of the Bible. Understanding the Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration pattern in God’s Story will help us make sense of our stories, and of the broken world in which we find ourselves. Below is a quick summary of these four movements along with the themes that emerge in each one.” – DNA Guide, p.28.
The basic premise is that everyone’s story finds its true meaning in God’s story—Creation, Separation, Redemption and Restoration. Each of the major chapters of the Bible have themes we find in our own stories. Below you’ll see the themes, as well as questions to help people craft their story.
Creation: God’s story starts with identity and origin.
Separation: God’s story focuses on brokenness and blame.
Redemption: God’s story highlights rescue and deliverance.
Restoration: God’s story promises hope and a future.
When I used this to train our community group, we had everyone write out their story. We believe writing it out is helpful and becomes something they can keep. You can snap a picture of it and keep it with you.
During the course of a few weeks we gave each person the opportunity to share their story in 5-7 minutes. They could read it if that was easier.
We encouraged those who were listening to take notes on what they learned about the person’s origin, what was wrong or broken in their life, who the hero of their story was, and what has changed or what hope did they hear. It’s critical to train students not just to tell their stories, but to listen to other’s stories. Listening not only communicates genuine care, but helps to identify inroads for the gospel.
When someone shares any part of their story with us, it is a gift. They open their heart to us. Therefore, we trained students to thank one another for sharing their story.
Then, before making any statements, we encouraged them to ask the person at least three questions. The questions focus on clarification or identification. Questions of clarification help us understand that people can leave out important details. Questions of identification move from facts to feelings. It is easier for us to name facts—something that happened in life—before we share how it made us feel. We want to identify with people’s pains and joys. Questions of identification help us better identify how certain situations or circumstances shaped or influenced the storyteller.
Be sure the hero of the story is actually Jesus. Sometimes, without even realizing it, we can tell our stories and make ourselves, a mentor, friends or something else the hero. Be sure Jesus stays in the spotlight.
A friend trained all their believing students to tell their story in three minutes. Whenever a new student comes to one of their small groups, the leader introduces the student to the group. They ask a few “get to know you” questions. Then, they have one of the students share briefly about what they do in the group. The students know talking about the group also allows them to share their story.
This practice does two things:
How do you help students tell their story and listen to people?