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A review of 'Story Bearer', a book on sharing faith by Phil Knox

A review of 'Story Bearer', a book on sharing faith by Phil Knox

Hands up all those who’ve ever felt anxious about sharing their faith? We’re all aware that we’ve been entrusted with the life-giving news of Jesus, so why do we often find it so hard to pass that message on to others? And why does some teaching on evangelism serve only to make us feel more guilty rather than empowering us?

Thankfully, Phil Knox’s book, Story Bearer, is written in a style that is noncondemnatory and easy to read. Knox’s passion for bringing others into God’s family is clear throughout the book, but he writes with refreshing honesty and vulnerability, sharing the lows as well as the highs of his experiences. As a result, his approach to evangelism is less intimidating than many, although there is still plenty here to challenge the reader who has a genuine desire to tell their friends about Jesus.

The over-arching theme of this book – as implied by the title – is the importance of stories. Making connections between God’s story, our own story and the stories of those we meet provides a way for us to share the Gospel in a way that others can relate to. Knox makes the point that telling and listening to stories has a powerful, positive effect on our brains, and that people are drawn to stories. For example, manufacturers will often use stories to market their products. In Christian terms, Knox reminds the reader that ‘Your story gives context to what a life looks like when someone knows the God of the universe…’

There’s also a strong emphasis in Story Bearer on the value of relationships, both with non-Christians and with other believers. People are more likely to be interested in our story – and God’s place in it – if we have invested time in developing a relationship with them. According to the preface of this book, ‘The most significant factor in someone being introduced to Jesus is a friend…’. Furthermore, we also need to make time for our Christian friendships, finding those who will encourage, support and challenge us in our evangelistic endeavours. Sharing the Good News is a team effort; generally speaking, someone coming to faith will have been influenced by several people, often over a long period of time.

As well as discussing the relevance of our own and our friends’ stories, Knox points out that we need to acknowledge cultural stories, too. This means looking at our modern world and making sure that the way we tell our stories makes tangible links with the society we live in. Knox uses the example of the digital revolution which has transformed the way we function, work and communicate. In particular, the advent of social media has increased the opportunities for connectivity, leading to new methods of sharing our faith. Clearly, there are downsides to social networking sites, too, but we need to be aware of the way culture evolves when we consider how best to talk to our friends about God.

In addition, while society as a whole may be less interested in formal religiosity, research shows that many still believe that there is more to life than what we see. Knox stresses that this doesn’t mean we should compromise our faith by being totally assimilated into modern culture, but neither should we ignore it completely. He notes: ‘What both Jesus and Paul demonstrate is that if we are to engage meaningfully with people we must engage meaningfully with culture’.

While a large proportion of Story Bearer is given over to looking at various types of story and how they relate to each other, Knox also includes several helpful ‘how-to’ sections on different aspects of sharing our faith…and this is where the challenge comes in. Knox underlines the necessity of starting from a place of prayer and the importance of regularly spending time reading the Bible. This not only helps us grow closer to God, but also helps us become immersed in His story, meaning we are better equipped to share it with our friends. Other sections offer advice on building relationships with others, developing listening skills and on learning to frame our story in words that non-Christians will understand.

Story Bearer is relatively short and because of its relaxed style could easily be read in an evening. However, I believe a better approach would be to read it slowly, inviting God to speak about how we can gain confidence in sharing His story. I would recommend this book to anyone who has a desire to see others brought into God’s kingdom.

 

This review is by Fiona Lloyd who is vice-chair of the Association of Christian Writers and is married with three grown-up children. Her first novel, The Diary of a (trying to be holy) Mum, was published by Instant Apostle in January 2018.

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