Every time you tell the story about how you came to have a personal relationship with God, you give honor and glory to God, and He is pleased with that. That story is your Christian testimony: the story about how God has changed your life through a personal relationship with Him.
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Your testimony — regardless of how ordinary or spectacular you think it is — is a story about God’s character. It is your eyewitness account of how God rescued you from sin and death through Christ, and changed your life as a result.
When you share your story with others, you help them get to know what God is like and what He can do.
Whether you are in line at the grocery store, sitting with a family member or standing in front of a group of people, the Bible calls you to “always be ready” to explain your hope in Christ with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16, New Living Translation).
Your story is one of the most valuable tools you have for sharing the gospel with a person who does not follow Jesus. Not only that, but it’s not a tool you have to remember to carry in your backpack or purse; it’s something you have at all times no matter the circumstance. Being prepared for an open door to share with someone is crucial if you are going to be faithful to share the story God has given you.
You may think that because it’s your story, you do not have to do anything to be ready to tell it. After all, you were there when it happened, and you’re living it now.
But it’s easy to get nervous, become sidetracked or forget things when sharing your testimony, which can be confusing or distracting for those listening. This is why a little preparation and practice can be so valuable.
Though it’s important to be prepared to share your story clearly and concisely at any time, a person coming to know Jesus is not dependent on your communication skills. God is ultimately the one who will give your audience understanding and soften a person’s heart to receive the gospel. But your role is to take a step of faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and leave the results to God.
As Christians, we do not just tell our story because it’s “the right thing to do.” We do it because it’s biblical and because God moves when we take steps of faith to share with others.
There are many accounts in the Bible of people sharing about how God transformed their lives. One of the most well-known testimonies is told by the apostle Paul. Paul went from persecuting Christians to following Jesus, starting churches, and writing over half of the New Testament. Take a look at his testimony before a crowd in Acts 22:1-21 to understand the essential parts of telling your story.
“Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.”
“I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.”
“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
“‘Who are You, Lord?’ I asked.
“‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ He replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of Him who was speaking to me.
“‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.
“‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.
“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.”
“Then [Ananias] said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from His mouth. You will be His witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.’
“When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying at the temple, I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking to me. ‘Quick!’ He said. ‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about Me.’”
“‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in You. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing Him.’
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”
After looking at Paul’s example of a testimony, you can get a better understanding of a good framework for telling your own story. Take a look at these five parts of a personal testimony. As you move through this list, journal your answers to the questions in each section.
Identify a theme you can use to frame your story. What did your life revolve around (e.g. relationships, your reputation, success) that God used to help bring you to Him? Briefly illustrate how that influenced your life.
Paint a picture of what your life was like before you came to Christ. Do not dwell too much on, or brag about, past sins. Share only the details that relate to your theme — just enough to show your need for Christ. Think through these questions:
Give the details about why and how you became a Christian. Communicate in such a way that the person you are talking with, and anyone who overhears you, can understand how they can become a Christian too. Even if your listeners are not ready for that, God could use your story and explanation of the gospel to draw them to Himself in the future. Think through these questions:
Share some of the changes that Christ has made in your life as they relate to your theme. Emphasize the changes in your character, attitude or perspective, not just changes in behavior. Be realistic. We still struggle as Christians. Life is far from perfect, but what's different about your life now? Think through these questions:
End with a statement that summarizes your story and connects everything back to your theme. If you want, close with a Bible verse that relates to your experience.
Congratulations! Once you’ve gone through the five steps above, you’ve outlined your personal testimony.
Now, take a few minutes to write out your story as if you were telling it to someone. Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind as you do that:
The Lord can use you to help others come to know Christ. Ask God for opportunities to share your story and the gospel with others.
If you want to learn more about sharing your story, check out “10 Tips for Telling Your Story.”
Pray for an opportunity and share your story with someone this week. Click the button below to tell us what you’re doing, and we’ll pray for you as you take this step of faith.
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