"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]

Sharing our Faith

The Apostle Peter reminds us; "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). Sharing our faith is not an easy task. Allow me to suggest three thoughts that might assist our efforts is sharing our faith:

  • Inclusive dialog
  • Using our own style
  • Telling our story

Each of these three subjects will be divided into two sections: Theory and Practice.

Inclusive Dialog


A first step might be to earn or be aware of opportunities to dialog concerning faith. My friend, Dr. David Gill, likes to ask people questions concerning faith issues. He likes to enter into what we calls, "Inclusive Dialog". Inclusive dialog seeks to truly understand where a person is coming from in their faith journey. The opposite of this is "Exclusive dialog" I have all the answers, too bad you don't believe…


After we have earned the right to a faith dialog, consider using a line of questioning that helps to understand the background and journey a person has been on regarding their current faith beliefs. Some questions might be: Tell me about you childhood and life experiences regarding your faith? How do you think we got here? What are your views on Creation? Is there a God? (one God, many gods, no god, don't know?) Do you think God has laws or rules for his creation or are we free to set up our own rules for living?

The first step after listening is to share responses to these questions. In the next section; Using our own style, I will share some thoughts. Essentially my responses emerge from my writings on "Remember the Heart of the Bible" and "A Biography of Jesus".

Using our own style


As believers we are each unique, un-repeatable gifts of God's creation. Early in my journey with Jesus I liked the "bloom where you are planted" example and challenge. We are placed in his kingdom at this time with a purpose and a calling. In their study, "Becoming A Contagious Christian" (ISBN 978-0-310-25787-5) Mark Mittelberg, Lee Stobel and Bill Hybels, identify six styles for sharing our faith:

  • Direct Style
  • Intellectual Style
  • Testimonial Style
  • Interpersonal Style
  • Invitational Style
  • Serving Style

I suggest using the Becoming a Contagious Christian (CC) course. Allow me to highlight the traits of these styles to help understand our God given talents. The CC authors suggest we are all a blend of the styles; perhaps with one or two dominant styles.

Direct style – Confident, Bold, Assertive, Skip the small talk – get to the point, Has strong opinions and convictions

Intellectual style – Analytical, Logical, Inquisitive, Likes to debate, More concerned with what people think than how they feel

Testimonial Style – Clear communicator, Good listener, Vulnerable about your personal life, ups and downs, Overwhelmed by the account of how God reached you, See links between your experience and that of other people.

Interpersonal Style – Relationally warm, Conversational, Compassionate, Friendship oriented, Focuses on people and their needs.

Invitational Style – Hospitable, Persuasive, Enjoys meeting new people, Enthusiastic, Spiritually opportunistic.

Serving Style – Patient, Others- centered, See needs and finds joy in meeting them, shows love action more than words, Attaches value to even mental tasks.


While I am a blend of these styles; my predominant style is Intellectual; therefore my approach, after listening to a person's dialog on questions raised in "Inclusive dialog" section might be to share;

Creation? I believe God created the Heavens and the Earth, and Humans in His own image. The sequence of events as told in Genesis fits well with what most scientists today believe is the sequence of the earth's development. While the Genesis story was handed down and recorded by the Hebrews, I believe it had divine inspiration and accuracy from God as recorded in the Genesis narrative. While each human is a divine creation of God in his image, we are also sinners and need a savior. Marriage is defined as a man and woman joining together to become one…a new family under God to procreate the human race.

God? When I understand the depth and order of the universe and the intricacy of human birth and life, I become very comfortable there is one creator God. I am a monotheist, as identified by Abraham. This one God had one son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth with God's logos (word) for humankind. Jesus, left the power of the Holy spirit to be our counselor in daily life as we become his disciples and learn from Him.

God's laws? I believe in boundaries for living life. We are not placed on God's precious earth not to preserve it and have laws or boundaries for daily living. While the Old Testament outlines three broad categories of God's Laws; Moral laws – the Ten Commandments, Ceremonial Laws – atonement of sin, tabernacle rules, and Civil laws – an eye for an eye etc. Jesus put his primary emphasis on Moral laws – restating them as laws of love, agape love, in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus shed blood on the cross for the atonement of our sins and left communion (bread and wine) rather than Old Testament animal sacrifice for forgiveness of sin, and regarding civil law he would state "render to Caesar what is Caesar and God what is God's". He originated the Western idea of separation of civil and Godly laws.

These are beginning Biblical responses I might use in dialog after listening to a friend's positions.

Telling our Story


Our children years ago used to spend Spring break on Mission to Mexico. Ray Johnston, our then church Youth Pastor required each young person be prepared to share their story of how they came to faith in Jesus Christ. This was a great exercise for young people and is good for all of us. "Becoming a Contagious Christian" also emphasizes each of us being prepared to tell our story. As fellow believers share their faith journey; this helps each of us confirm and deepen own faith stories.


My story is one of "Markers" that have confirmed and grew my faith in Jesus through the years. Markers in my faith journey were the result of individual people sharing their lives and faith. I was fortunate to be in Church nine months before I was born. Both of my parents, Ruth and Tom Cowley, were Christians and attended the Methodist Church almost every Sunday in Sioux City, Iowa. Sunday school was important to me and Confirmation into the Methodist church at age 12 is a meaningful marker.

In high school attending the National Convocation of Methodist Youth at Purdue University with our Youth Pastor, Frank New, was a special marker in my growing faith. Northwestern University days were a bit of 'faith back sliding' but God blessed me in a 1964 marriage to my wife, another Methodist, Karen.

We journeyed along as passive Christians for a couple of years, until we met Dean and Lois Griffith. They were starting a Bible study in their home and invited us to attend. During the study of Colossians in 1966, I experienced an "adult conversion" to serve the Lord much more deeply. Becoming active in a Para church movement of home Bible studies ( CLC-Christian Laity of Chicago) in the Chicago area was most important to Karen and my young adult growth in our Faith.

An important 'marker' occurred in 1977 when we moved to California and joined Marin Covenant Church. This was the church that provided a strong youth program for our children and I became involved with the lay 'business' side of Marin Covenant, I helped as church Chairman to see the current church building become a reality. I am not terribly denominational; having been a Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical Covenant, and Baptist. I like to say I am a follower of Jesus Christ.

In 1988 an important 'marker' was God calling me to combine my business strategic planning skills with beginning to teach the Bible and the life of Jesus on an overview – outline basis to help lay Bible ministry. This has been the center of my work in the kingdom for the last 24+ years. God has blessed my efforts with; facilitating trips to the Holy Land, degrees from Golden Gate Baptist Seminary and United Theological Seminary, writing and publishing books: "A Biography of Jesus" and "Remember the Heart of the Bible" and being called by Dr. William Wagner to join the Olivet University faculty, providing Ministry opportunities among Christian young people around the world. Paraclete Press, led by Jon Sweeney, published "A Biography of Jesus". The launch of a Christian TV ministry with www.MyBibleBasics.com I pray will be a blessing.

I feel deeply blessed to have a wonderful supporting and encouraging spouse of 48 years, Karen. I pray our children and grandchildren will find and grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps my story has encouraged each of you to fine tune your own faith story. We need to be prepared to share our faith journey with family, friends and those who cross our path in life's journey. There are many embellishments to my journey with "ups" and "downs" which I can share on a more detailed basis when asked. So this concludes my current thoughts on the subject of Sharing our Faith. I pray it has helped you on your faith story, journey, and time with Jesus.

Tom J. Cowley