Having studied law and worked for several years at Youth for Christ, Phil Knox joined the Evangelical Alliance in 2018 to kick-start our work for and with young adults.

Alongside his research and resourcing at the Evangelical Alliance, Phil has also been carefully putting into words the passion he has always felt for sharing Jesus and sharing stories. His first book, Story Bearer, encourages all Christians, whatever age and life stage, to treasure their story and to learn how to articulate it for the growth of God’s kingdom.

Phil, you’ve created some powerful spoken word pieces in the past, particularly the Instead of You’ video you made for Great Commission last Christmas. When did you first discover you had this passion for communicating and storytelling?

That’s a great question! I have always loved stories. I vividly remember reading Enid Blyton and the Narnia series under the duvet late at night as a child. I also had a few leadership roles at school, where I first got the chance to do some public speaking, and I remember really enjoying crafting speeches. Stories and words have always been important to me – I’ve always observed their power to captivate people and change situations.

Was there a particular story, perhaps of someone in the Bible or a fellow believer, that you remember having a big impact on you and your faith?

The stories that have always meant the most have been family stories – I think we underestimate their power. I quote some research in Story Bearer that found that the children who are most resilient are those who have the strongest sense of their family’s story. I remember hearing the stories of my mum, dad and grandparents, the joys and challenges of growing up in a different era, their journeys of faith, their struggles and accomplishments. Those narratives gave me a grounding and rooted me in my own story. As Christians, our family story is the greatest story ever told and we have to treasure it and allow it to shape us in the same way.

Do you remember a time when you shared your own story with someone and it impacted their journey?

One of the key characters in Story Bearer is my best mate Adam. I met him on the first day of secondary school and after nearly 10 years of friendship, sharing
stories and talking about faith, he became a Christian. This kind of journey I see as the way that we, as Christians, change the world. We should be the best friends in the universe, and by living our story, telling our story and constantly inviting people further on the journey of faith, we see real transformation. It often takes a long time, with lots of disappointment on the way, but it is worth it!

As a community of believers, how do you think the church can use the art of storytelling?

I think we have a poverty of storytelling in the church. We should be known for our storytelling. In over 10 years of training people in evangelism, I have met a worrying number of Christians who are unable to share naturally and relationally how Jesus makes a difference in their lives. I’m excited by the potential of what could happen if every Christian had the language and confidence to tell their story to their friends, who are often more interested than we think. Secondly, I think we need to tell our story as the church better. Christians make an astonishing difference to society – foodbanks, toddler groups, Christians Against Poverty, youthwork, Street Pastors – to name a few. Let’s tell that story better.

What do you think holds people back from sharing their story more readily?

There is a whole chapter in Story Bearer on this, but here are some highlights. Firstly, I do think, and I wholeheartedly include myself in this, we care what people think and like to be liked. I am often afraid that if I share my faith my friends will like me less. Secondly, I think we lack confidence in ourselves. We are afraid of being asked questions we don’t know the answer to and we lack the language to articulate our story. Thirdly, I think we have a crisis of friendship. 

Our increasingly busy lives and the phenomenon of conducting relationships through screens can mean that we have fewer close friends and more superficial conversations, which means we talk less about the deep and meaningfuls’. When we are authentic and vulnerable with others and listen well to their story, we get the opportunity to share our story with them. The heart of Story Bearer is to address these issues.

So, what then led you to put your passion for good storytelling into a book?

I am absolutely desperate to see our nations choose to follow Jesus. I love the gospel, I love the church, and I love relationships. I believe that in our hearts and in our hands we hold the most contagious message of hope the world has ever known. I believe that the job of being good news people in a bad news world and bearing our story is too big and too important to be left to the professional’ Christians. We all get to play. I wrote Story Bearer because I believe God has always used ordinary people to make a difference in His world. Evangelist Billy Graham preached to more than 2.2 billion people, but he was led to Christ by his friend Albert, who prayed for him, befriended him and invited him to find out more. We can’t all be a Billy Graham stadium evangelist, but we can all be an Albert McMackin story bearer.

What is your prayer for what God would do through this book?

In our challenging times, I am so full of hope that we will see a massive move of God in the coming days and significant numbers of people coming to know Jesus.
I wholeheartedly believe that if that is going to happen, we will all have a part to play. My deepest hope for Story Bearer is that it inspires and equips every Christian to share their faith more effectively. What would it look like if all of us were better friends, with deeper relationships and more meaningful connections? What would it look like if all of us were committed to praying regularly for a few friends to come to faith? What if we all had the language to naturally and authentically tell our story and share the gospel with humility and confidence? I think that could make a massive difference in the lives of so many. That’s my prayer.

Finally, what’s the top piece of advice you’d give to someone who doesn’t know where to begin when it comes to sharing their story (other than buying the book, of course)?

If you haven’t got one already, write a list of a few friends who you want to see come to faith and begin to pray for them regularly. Alongside almost every changed
life is a praying friend. Learning to share your story is the comparatively easy bit; the bit we all need to be committed to is being a wholehearted, lifelong friend who prays for their mates. I have observed that when we pray, it not only makes a difference, but does something in us to make us care more deeply about our friends coming to faith. When we have that motivation in us, we will be far more likely to take the time to learn and practise how to tell our story.

Story Bearer by Phil Knox is published by IVP and released in March 2020. To find out more and order your copy, visit www​.sto​ry​bear​er​.com