Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tough Doesn’t Mean Impossible

I mentioned, in my last blog post, that God is a tough sell. There are a lot of obstacles you’ll have to face before you are going to be able to break through to a prospect and get them open to trying what you’re offering. The good news is that the tool you need to break through is already inside of you. You just have to learn how to tap into it.

You Make the Invisible Product Visible.

I told you that one of the biggest hurdles you have to cross in trying to sell a relationship with God to someone who doesn’t believe in Him is that you have nothing tangible to offer them. You can’t put a product in their hand or give them something to hold. You, your experience, and your physical presence in their life is what makes the invisible product visible. You can be questioned and examined, and your life can be put under a microscope to see whether or not there is enough evidence to conclude that God is present in it.

Your Story Is the Bridge They Need

Your story, your faith story, is the bridge they need to get from disbelief and disdain to becoming open to belief. You can’t convict them of the truth. That isn’t your job. That’s the work of the Holy Spirit. But you can give them a reason to question their beliefs and introduce doubt into their minds. That doubt is the seed that God can use to work His way into their hearts.

Your Story Shows Them How It Works

Your story - shared openly, honestly, and with vulnerability - shows them how a relationship with God works. It teaches them what to expect when they enter into that relationship and how to know for sure it is God speaking to them and not their own imagination. It shows them what signs to look for and how to read them when they spot them. It provides a roadmap to get where you want them to go.

Your Story Shows the Value

If you want people to become convinced it is worth the effort to make the sacrifices required to enter into a relationship with God and you want them to be willing to try a regime that has no guarantee of success and a guarantee that they will fail to live up to it not once but many times, you must learn to tell your story and show them the value that you find in it. Be willing to show them who you were before you came to know Christ and who you became after you found Him. Because that’s what they need to see in order to become willing to make this journey – they need to see the amazing transformation, the incredible results that will make it all worth it.

Your Story Defines Your Audience

Your unique faith walk story will not appeal to everyone. Not everyone will understand it. That’s okay. To the people who do understand it, your story will draw them like a magnet because it will offer them a pipeline to fulfilling a hunger they haven’t even recognized is there. All they know is that no matter what they do or try, it doesn’t satisfy them for very long. They need more. Your story will show them that you understand that hunger, because once upon a time it was your hunger, too, and God fulfilled that hunger and transformed it into something more powerful.

The Belief Barriers in the Brain

There’s another important reason to learn to tell your story. Our brains are incredibly complex computer systems that are powered by a belief-based operating system. Those beliefs are based on events that happened to you from conception through age 22 and the story you told yourself about what those events mean. From age 23 to age 28, the operating system is tested and refined. From age 29 onward, that operating system runs largely uncheck and undetected. It makes every decision for you without you even being aware of it. It decides what evidence is valid and worth filing away in memory and which to reject without even bothering to examine it.

This is why most evangelization attempts fail. You are trying to hack into their operating system, and the brain has a multitude of defensive mechanisms to prevent you from doing that. The reason being is that the beliefs you hold are deemed by the brain to be essential to their survival. Changing them requires going straight into the stories that underlie that operating system and rewriting them first. Only when the story is rewritten can you then introduce new beliefs and have them stick.

Stories Tunnel Through The Belief Barrier

Stories that are told with vivid description are the key to getting the brain to rewrite those stories. That’s because when a person’s brain hears a story, or reads it, it processes the story as if it were a real experience happening to that person. In other words, if I hear a story with vivid description about taking a walk in a park, my brain will process that experience as if it had really happened to me.

When the story evokes sensory input or emotion, the brain will treat them as if they are really happening. It will chemically code the memories attached to that story, bypassing the brain’s normal memory processing system, because it sees the information as critical to survival since it impacts both emotions and senses.

Thus, your story will be processed by the non-believer as if it happened directly to them. That’s how powerful it is to be able to tell your story and to make it both entertaining and engaging. A boring, flat, emotionless story will not do it. This story must be vulnerable, heartfelt, and engage both the senses and the emotions in order to work.

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