I’m outside.”

Two terrible words to receive in a text message if you’re just out of the shower, frantically throwing on clothes (you don’t even care if they’re yours at this stage), toothbrush hanging out of your mouth, wishing you’d packed your bag the night before and set your alarm half an hour earlier to be ready for your colleague to pick you up.

In contrast, readiness is a great feeling. You feel confident, capable and prepared for the task ahead.

When sharing my faith with my friends, I have known both the blood drain from my face as I mutter a cobbled-together apologetic, and the confidence of talking about Jesus’ impact on my life in a relaxed way that I feel connects with my mate. Reflecting on this assuredness, I believe a lot has come from being prepared.

St Peter writes, Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.’ (1 Peter 3:15)
For some, their most natural response if someone asks them why they’re a Christian would be to do just this; give a reason. For others, their default would be to talk about the moment they decided to follow Jesus. Whatever your tendency, my encouragement would be to tell a story.

Recently, I have been captivated by the power of stories.

I have always loved stories and vividly remember the stories my dad would tell me from his head, or reading Enid Blyton under the duvet as a child.

And we remember them for a very good scientific reason.

When we hear stories, our brain secretes powerful chemicals: cortisol, which makes us pay attention; oxytocin (the same hormone that bonds mother and baby), which makes us feel empathy for the story’s characters; and dopamine, (also found in some fun-enhancing’ substances), which makes us feel good when there is a happy ending. Moreover, brain scans during storytelling reveal that the same chemical patterns are observed in both the teller’s and the hearer’s brains. It’s as if you sync your mind to the other person’s using the power of story. It’s as if Jesus knew what he was doing when he used parables to communicate the deep truths of the cosmos.

My encouragement to you is to be ready to share your story, and here are two stories that you can prepare well, so you feel ready to give an answer for the hope that you have:

Your story: Ravi Zacharias says this is a generation who listens with their eyes and thinks with their feelings. Your story will be seen by those who observe your life, but I also want to urge you to reflect on the difference Jesus makes in your life and find the language to articulate it if someone asked you, or if you felt the courage to say, Can I tell you my story?”

God’s story: The gospel is like the iPhone – both incredibly simple, but with incredible depth and intricacy behind the scenes. I urge you to throw yourself into the depth of God’s story, and find a simple way of telling someone the Christian message in a minute or less. Something like the four points (God loves us, we have messed up, Jesus died for us, we need to make a decision), or the story of the lost son from Luke 15, is a good start. As an evangelist, I am compelled by the idea that if every Christian could tell these two stories well, be praying for a few mates and committed to intentional relationships with those around them, the viral potential for the gospel could be unleashed in a new way. That’s why at Youth for Christ we’ve created Sync, a Youtube channel to help young people know their story and be inspired to share it.

I urge you to put the building blocks in place – knowing how to share your story and the story of God – so you’ll always be prepared. Are you ready?