SHARING YOUR STORY IN LIGHT OF GOD'S STORY
Sharing your personal journey with Christ is a powerful evangelism tool in your ministry arsenal. Your story should begin and end with Christ. When I worked in a secular environment, my encounters with self-professed Christians were shocking. I met a diverse crowd spanning a multitude of faith backgrounds, but their testimonies of faith often lacked clarity and Christianity. They seemed joyful about their walks with God, but Christ was painfully absent from their journeys. When preparing to share your faith with others, consider these principles as a road map for marking out your spiritual pilgrimage.
Your Testimony is about Jesus
The terms “testimony” and “testify” are closely related. When sharing your testimony, you are really testifying about what Christ has done in your life. Your testimony should exalt Jesus! Your story is part of God’s larger story of salvation through Christ.
Your Testimony Must Point to Jesus
When sharing your testimony, point your audience to Jesus. Show them 1) what your life was like prior to Christ, 2) explain what drew you to faith in Christ, and 3) share how an intimate relationship with Jesus has transformed your life.
Overuse the Name of Jesus
You need not awkwardly interject the name of Jesus into your testimony, but unabashedly talk about Him. Christ ought to be the center of every Christian’s existence; as a result, show them the wonders of a life revolving around Jesus. Many people believe in God or gods (Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.), but the beauty of Christianity is found in God the Father sending His only son as a sacrifice for humanity (John 3:16). We are people saved by faith in Jesus.
Your Testimony is not the Gospel
The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is the story of Jesus, God’s Son, who came into the world, took on the image of man, died in the place of sinful men and women, and secured salvation for all who believe. Your testimony should culminate in sharing the good news in a way that invites a response from the hearer to trust in Christ. This can include an explicit challenge to trust in Christ and verbally confess Him as Lord and Savior.
How to Tell Your Story
Begin with Your Life Prior to Christ
Good storytelling includes is personal story that speaks to the condition of the hearer. Your life experiences, although unique, have the potential to influence a diverse audience of individuals. Sin is a struggle common to all men and women, the Bible tells us (1 Corinthians 10:13). Because sin is destructive to the lives of your audience, help them understand how sin, committed by you or against you, was harmful to your life prior faith in Jesus. Be specific! There is no need to divulge sensitive, extremely graphic or inappropriate details of your personal story, but based upon your audience, share what is necessary to convince them of the destructive nature of sin. Use a sequence of short stories that are relevant to your shortcomings apart from Christ. Choose stories that were impactful and formative in directing you toward Jesus. Not all people have dramatic testimonies but this does not hinder the power of your story. It reveals God’s goodness in preventing you from certain hardships so feel free to celebrate this without bragging or minimizing the hardships of others.
Explain How This Stirred You to Faith in Jesus
Show your audience the destructive effects sin had in your life. Did it wreak havoc on your emotions, physical body, mental health, or spiritual life? Paint a vivid picture of what it was like to be separated from God and without hope. Then tell them how you were introduced to Christ. What led to your conversion? What individuals, situations, or circumstances were influential in your coming to faith?
Your Conversion is the Climax of Your Story
Use this opportunity to show how Christ met your needs, spiritual and physical, freeing you from the crippling power of sin. This is the moment when Jesus claims victory in your heart and your soul is saved. Help your audience realize that their quality of life suffers without Jesus; use your own experiences to illustrate this. At this point, it is important to note that every Christian, churched or unchurched, has a moment when they embrace faith for themselves; being raised in church by Godly parents is not conversion. When did your faith in Jesus become your own?
Show how Christ Renews your Life with His Power
Now you will want to communicate that Christ’s work is not done after conversion. Help them see how God, through Jesus and His indwelling Holy Spirit, continues the transform your life through His word, service in the church, and a personal relationship with Him. This is also the time to share how God is actively healing old wounds and sustaining you in hardship, trials, and temptations today.
Invites People to Respond in Faith to Jesus
Now that you have illustrated the beautiful work of Christ in your life, give them the chance to reflect and respond. Call them to faith in Jesus; invite them to receive or reject Christ. Remind them that he is accessible and willing to forgive any and all repentant sinners. Note, too, that one cannot “clean up” their lives prior to faith in Jesus; it is Jesus who cleans up one’s life after conversion. Explain that all they can do is 1) put their trust in Jesus, 2) submit to His will, 3) align their life and values with His, and 4) follow him.