Sharing our faith can seem like a terrifying prospect for many of us at the best of times; but what about when we're not even sure what we believe in?
1 Peter 3:15 tells Christians to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have," but this is easier said than done when we're doubting our faith. So should we wait until we're sure of all the answers before we begin talking about God with our friends?
Thankfully, the answer is no. If we steered clear of Christianity until we knew all the answers and could package them neatly into three-point answers, I'm pretty sure we'd never get round to sharing our faith at all. In fact, it's possible to see your time of doubting as a time to witness to those around you, and as a springboard to explore some of those big questions you've perhaps avoided in the past.
Let me explain.
The absolute worst thing you can do when you're in a place of doubt is to try to run away from God. The Bible suggests this doesn't usually end well (hey there, Jonah), and keeping quiet about our questions won't help them go away. Instead, go to church when you don't feel like it. Talk to God even if you're not sure he's there, and worship as if he were. There's a biblical precedent for crying out to God when it feels like he's forsaken you, and choosing to worship regardless of your circumstances.
And a vital part of our worship is sharing our faith. It's in the DNA of Christianity; from the very start 2,000 years ago, followers of Jesus have been story-tellers. We're called to share the gospel and be "fishers of men". It's not an option to keep it to ourselves. When Jesus instructed the disciples in the Great Commission, it wasn't a suggestion. It was a command.
The key is to be honest. Whether you're in a good or bad place faith-wise, never lose sight of the importance of authenticity. Of course, God knows what's really going on in your heart, but it's important for those around you to see the real you, too. There's wisdom in being careful about who you share everything with, but if you're finding things tough, or not feeling close to God, tell a few Christian friends you trust. They can pray with you, and encourage you – they'll have undoubtedly gone through similar experiences and might be able to offer you a fresh perspective.
And don't just tell your Christian friends, tell your friends of no faith, too. It's healthy to have questions and they might just be encouraged that you've got some of the same ones. What's more, when you do find yourself in a better place, don't forget to go back to them and tell them what made the difference.
If you're in a position of leadership at church and you're really struggling, there's no shame in stepping back. You can't constantly give out without being replenished; take some time to be ministered to. But use it wisely; don't just resign yourself to the questions you have, grapple with them. Go on an Alpha course, search out some trusted apologists and don't stop reading the Bible. Take the opportunity to explore your questions alongside others, you might just find that in sharing your experiences, you help along their faith journey, too.