Preparing your Personal Testimony
Powerpoint: Preparing your testimony (web version, Powerpoint file)
Video: Atheist to Christian Testimony
Accompanying Questionnaire: 30 Minutes to a Shareable Testimony Worksheet
What is it? It is your personal experience of knowing Jesus. It is your story of how you became a Christian and how Jesus has changed your life. It is not preaching at people, but simply being a witness and sharing your story (Acts 1:8).
When would you give your Testimony?
Suppose you were catching up with a friend—a former co-worker or school-friend, from a few years back—over drinks one night, when he / she asks you what has been happening in your life. You explain where you work, what your job is, fill out the rest of the details of your life, and then add, you’re also actively involved in your local Church. Surprised, they then ask “have you always been a Christian?”
This kind of question is an open invitation to talk about your experience of God. It’s one of many common situations that allow you to share your story in a non-preachy, conversational manner. It’s a chance to tell your testimony.
Why is it important?
Often we think, “no one would want to hear my story”. Or, “my testimony is boring”. When we do this, we’re actually doing two things.
- If my “old life” didn’t involve being a drug-dealing, car-thieving, rock-star singer who used to play sport professionally, people won’t be interested in hearing my story.
- It’s up to me to change someone’s life.
However, research completed in Australia with unbelievers suggests that the best way to engage with issues of spirituality and religion is through…conversation & discussion! 70% of people said that they were somewhat or strongly repelled by hearing about public figures or celebrities talk about their faith. While 60% of people said they were somewhat or strongly attracted to hearing a personal story of significant trauma and life change. Your story matters!
Where do I start?
We can follow a simple 3-step outline:
- Your life before knowing Christ
- How you came to know Christ (how did you become a Christian)
- Your life after becoming a Christian (what changes has God made in your life etc.)
Read Acts 26
v 9-11 Before Paul became a Christian
v 12-18 How he became a Christian
v 19-29 How he has changed since becoming a Christian
You can’t change hearts, but God can!
Remember: Your story is the unique way that your life has been transformed by Jesus. It is your unique story. It doesn’t have to be just a single event, many of us have had a gradual coming to faith. But it is important that you practice being able to tell people what difference Jesus has made in your life.
- Pray: For opportunities; Courage; Ask God to help you think about your story before you write it down.
- Conversational: Write the way you speak; make the testimony yours.
- Practice this over and over until it becomes natural. If you need notes, you probably don’t know it well enough.
- Context: Think about the person you’re delivering it to. Each person will be at different points in their Spiritual Journey. Knowing your testimony really well will allow you to relate it to each person.
- Keep it short –Try to write only 100 words for each section (its harder than you think!). At that length, it’s easily something you can put into a conversation without it becoming a monologue. Aim for 3-5 minutes.
- Focus on Jesus. Think about what impact you are hoping to make. What lasting impression do you want to leave?
- Be passionate and unapologetic about what God has done through you. When you’re excited about what God has done, it’s inspiring for others.
- Avoid religious language. Research shows that not only do the unchurched not understand our “Churchy” language (saved; born-again; grace; sin; blessing; or worse – predestination; justification; righteousness; propitiation;), but the majority actually respond negatively to it.
- Don’t be too wordy – keep it tight and short (about 3-4 minutes)
- Avoid being “Preachy” or talking down to the other person.
- Don’t bag out other churches or groups. Disunity, hypocrisy and ultra-critical opinions definitely do not make your story more intriguing!
- False advertising: Don’t give the impression that being a Christian is a “happy smiley little blessing every day”. Average Aussies want to know that you’re real and you’re just like them.
- Don’t exaggerate. God doesn’t need you to embellish your story with how bad you were or how good you are.
- Don’t be too generic or vague – just get to the point
- Try to avoid say “um” or “arh” too much
- Don’t bore people with details, just the highlights would connect with another person
The best preparation for sharing your story is to make sure you know it well and can relate it to where they are with God. Here’s how to do that:
- Complete the Questionnaire that is linked at the top of the page. It will help you have a starting point.
- Pick a friend who isn’t following Jesus. Any friend will do; just choose one.
- Imagine a place and time where you might be having a conversation with them. Picture that place in your mind.
- Take each of the three sections of your story – before, during, and after – and write each section (100 words) in a form that would be appropriate for you to share with your chosen friend in the specific situation you visualised. Make sure you include the key points of your story that you think will connect with your friend. Don’t hesitate to pray and ask God about what will connect with them.
- Reread your story out aloud and consider whether your language and words will be understandable to your friend. You can also have a trusted friend read it as well, keeping in mind the Do’s and Don’ts discussed above.
Don’t forget, we can’t change hearts – but God can! It is he who will be at work in whoever hears your testimony. You know Jesus personally, and your life, your testimony, is an entry point for someone else to begin the journey of getting to know Jesus as well. Its actually pretty exciting!!
You might be feeling nervous, or afraid, perhaps wondering if your story can make an impact. Well let me tell you, it can! Take these words as an encouragement, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” The Gospel is the power of God for salvation! Thats no small thing!
Finish by thinking about this: Your story is like a never-empty bag of Gospel seeds. You want to scatter as many as you can. Not all of it will take root, but some will! So scatter far and scatter wide! And water it all with prayer and faith.
If you do have an opportunity that you know is coming up, or a friend who you’ve been praying and you would like someone else to also be in prayer, please let me know. My contact details are below, I’d love to pray for whatever God is doing in your life.
Grace & Peace,
Mark (Associate Pastor)