August 28, 2013

Talking About What We Believe In

I've been writing lots about the art of talking about what we believe in for awhile. This is an aspect of authentic evangelism. (Yes, I'm intent on reclaiming the term... it doesn't have to mean religious coercion) Storytelling is increasingly a way for us to find connection, a binding narrative and hear the 'good news' embedded in the lives of normal folks. In my mind, it's part of the reason why things like The Moth on a national level and Speakeasy here in DC have found such a wide audience–we're searching for that which binds us, for hopeful signs within our everyday lives.

If you're thinking about how to cultivate the art of sharing faith stories (aka. witness or testimony), This I Believe offers some great guidelines:
Tell a story: Be specific. Take your belief out of the ether and ground it in the events of your life. Consider moments when belief was formed or tested or changed. Think of your own experience, work, and family, and tell of the things you know that no one else does. Your story need not be heart-warming or gut-wrenching—it can even be funny—but it should be real. Make sure your story ties to the essence of your daily life philosophy and the shaping of your beliefs. 
Be brief: Your statement should be between 350 and 500 words. That’s about three minutes when read aloud at your natural pace. 
Name your belief: If you can’t name it in a sentence or two, your essay might not be about belief. Also, rather than writing a list, consider focusing on one core belief, because three minutes is a very short time. 
Be positive: Please avoid preaching or editorializing. Tell us what you do believe, not what you don’t believe. Avoid speaking in the editorial “we.” Make your essay about you; speak in the first person. 
Be personal: Write in words and phrases that are comfortable for you to speak. We recommend you read your essay aloud to yourself several times, and each time edit it and simplify it until you find the words, tone, and story that truly echo your belief and the way you speak.
What do you think? What other good resources have you found for cultivating the art of sharing our stories of conviction and transformation?

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