As a former corporate sales person, I am drawn to the ease and efficiency of the elevator pitch. It allows you to memorize a few short, enticing sentences of the value of your product or service, giving you the confidence to share it during the short ride on an elevator. It’s quick, to the point, and (hopefully) gets the conversation started.
It seems logical that I would have an elevator pitch for my faith too. Even typing this might put me at risk of sounding like a pushy car salesman, but hear me out. Similar to conversations with prospective customers, aren’t there people you would like to connect with on a deeper level, understand their dreams and desires, as well as the faulty promises they’ve bought in the past? It would allow me to quickly understand where my friends and family are questioning or curious about faith. Or a way to strike up a conversation with non-believers that wouldn’t feel pushy, but would provide a clear response to why I think differently. I’ve toyed with this evangelistic elevator pitch for a while, jotting down how to confidently share why I am a believer or why I have hope in the resurrection. I was convicted about this when I came across this passage:
“in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” 1 Peter 3:15.
Some people have over-the-top stories: surviving a fatal car crash, an unexplainable medical miracle, or prayers being answered so unexpectedly it could only be God. The rest of us probably have less dramatic events that have nudged us towards God’s righteous path. Not sure how to begin? Think about who you were before knowing Jesus and who you are now. When asked, you can share how you met Him, when you submitted your heart and life to Him, and how that has changed you. Another way to think of this question: Was there a wound (addiction, anger, medical, etc.) that God healed? How has your life continued to change? Even the straightforward question – where have you seen God change your life?
My story includes a series of God glimpses over my lifetime. Unlike a canned response for a product or service, I’ve found that the second portion of 1 Peter 3:15 (above) is critical when sharing portions of my faith journey. As the conversation becomes more vulnerable, I appraise the depth of relationship I’ve already established with the person I’m with, as well as what struggle or inquiry we were discussing up to this point. Probably like you, decades of life as a believer have provided abundant content. So, I take into consideration what they already know about me, how well they know me and my family, especially if there are events they’ve been a part of that I can include, and then deliver it with gentleness and respect. Without judgement. Without causing guilt and shame. And then, I stop and, most importantly, listen.
A prior boss always said to dig into the “blah, blah, blahs” of conversations. These are the important details most people gloss over but are at the heart of their struggle. By truly listening, you can ask deeper questions “How are you, …really?” This also means you need to have the time to spend listening and digging. “Love must be sincere.” (Romans 12:9). Things might get messy; truth typically is. But this is where “the light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5), where hope is given a chance (Jeremiah 29:11-12), where deeper friendship is etched into hearts, and where the person you are talking with receives a new nudge to consider for their own faith story.
Recently, there has been a focus on telling your story. I’ve seen it from business leaders, pastors, and school teachers. My guess is it’s because we were all in isolation the majority of 2020. Compiling personal thoughts and words has a therapeutic element that allow us to process changes that are occurring and identify themes in our life. There is power in the written and spoken word. And when our words express where God has entered, interrupted and changed us, those words are even more powerful because they provide hope.
As the quarantine was lifted and our Bible study small group was able to reconvene in person, we began each session with one woman sharing her faith story. We were all raised in a church, yet during early adulthood, many of us diverted from God’s path. As the tears from abuse, abandonment, addiction, infertility, and heartbreaking disappointments were shared, so were the stories of God’s presence and pursuit of us. And in all but one of the stories, there was a woman in the group who was the vessel that brought the speaker to knowing and loving Jesus more. Wow. It was powerful. Week after week I witnessed how God had brought these women together unexpectedly over the years – from side conversations in social settings or on runs, through church inquiries, to extending invitations to Bible studies and reaching out to friends in need, organizing prayer circles – the list goes on. Unbeknownst to us, over the years and circumstances, God had woven us into each other’s stories. And it wasn’t until we heard all the stories collectively, could we start seeing the bigger quilt God was weaving amongst us. It was one of those moments that time stopped.
Where do you start with your own elevator pitch? God nudges are felt each day if you stop to watch for them. Who are the people God has placed in your life?** Do you know their stories; do they know your story? Pray for God’s direction as to the people He wants you woven together with, and for them to be open to hearing why you believe in God.
I know sharing your faith story might not feel natural to you today. Which is exactly why a little preparation can help build your confidence. I encourage you to draft your elevator pitch, think through areas of obedience you’ve felt God nudge you towards (new jobs, relocation, finding your spouse, areas of forgiveness and rebellion, also see the three questions above). Practice speaking it out loud to your mirror and then to a friend. You never know when God is going to prompt someone to ask you about it, or encourage you to take a leap of faith and share it.
Heavenly Father – Thank you for caring intimately for your children. I’m sorry for being short sided and not thinking about the bigger possibilities you have in store for us. You dazzle us with gorgeous sunrises, mountain tops, and ocean waves, why wouldn’t you dazzle us with sweet angel-like companions here on earth too? Thank you for knowing what we need before we do, and for preparing our way with the amazing friends and family you have woven together to care for us, build into us, and to love us as You would.
Thank you that we don’t need to walk alone through any of life’s trials. Help us to see who’s lives you’ve stitched together with ours. Thank you for the deeper friendship you have etched into the hearts of small groups. We know Your story for us is still being written, with many more plot twists, deep dialogs, prayer circles, fights against antagonists, and celebrations! Amen
** As this blog was ready to publish, I had enough drive time for a highly emotional podcast that many friends had recommended. It is an interview with my pastor Brian Tome and his spiritual father, Denny Pattyn, who recently learned he is in the last weeks of his life. As my pastor was giving the backdrop of their decades of mentorship and friendship, I realized Denny is my mom’s cousin. To think God started weaving this story years ago in Pennsylvania. What a gift I received, clearly understanding how God has woven me into a family of origin’s faith story. How I get to harvest the seeds Denny planted in Brian years ago. Friends, please keep our eyes open for the people (and podcasts) that God puts in your life. You never know how intricately He is at work, but when you discover it, it’s amazing!!! 🌟
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