Last Update 5th October, 2016.
Why Your Story Matters
Giving your personal testimony is one of the most powerful ways to share the Gospel.
Not only because everyone loves a good story, but when it comes personal or friendship evangelism, no one can argue with your personal experience.
Some of us came to faith like the Apostle Paul – it was a night and day life-changing moment and you know the exact date of your defining moment.
Perhaps it was answering an alter call or kneeling alone in your bedroom.
Others came to faith like Timothy – it was a gradual awakening, a process over time as the Spirit of God gently moved within you.
A lot of people I speak to are worried that their testimony isn’t ‘dramatic’ enough…maybe they grew up in a Christian family and they think their conversion was uneventful and boring.
Maybe that’s because in Christian circles we have a kind of ‘celebrity culture’ – if you weren’t a drug pusher, drug-user or drug trafficker before you came to Christ then you’re testimony is not a good one!
Not everyone can relate to drug abuse; most of us know very little about the criminal underground scene.
Everybody is different and if you are honest and open in telling your story, people will identify with you and they’ll one step closer to accepting Christ.
Praise God for the shocking and dramatic conversions but let me tell you, salvation is a work of the Lord.
When God touches a human heart, when the just God justifies the unjust this is the greatest miracle of all! More glorious than the northern lights or the solar eclipse of the milky way.
Your story is worth telling.
Not sure how to give your personal testimony?
Here are some pointers to get you pointed in the right direction…
22 Questions to Get You Going
I remember before a 3 week trip to Rwanda, Africa I completed a missionary preparation course and in this training we were taught to have 3 testimonies…
- A 2 minute testimony
- A 5 minute testimony
- A 10 minute testimony
The idea was that you could be called on at any time to share your story and depending on the context, you’d be ready.
Here are some questions to get you thinking about your personal story, these questions are meant to provoke deep thought and reflection.
It’s probably best you go through these when you’re in a safe, quiet and happy place with a big mug of tea (I’m speaking as an Englishman of course), as well as a pen and a notebook.
This exercise may not be a quick 5 minute one. Some questions might seem like they overlap and that’s OK.
Your personal evangelism will be much richer and poignant if you can master your own story.
The non-Christians you encounter will be at some point in their own journey and at different stages of their own ‘conversion’.
Hearing your story takes the pressure off them and encourages them to open up to you, this could be the start of a great dialogue between you both.
Doing This Exercise
These are the key principles I hope you’ll see…
- Your conversion was a process that has a back story.
- There were significant milestones along your journey.
- Looking back you see the Holy Spirit at work, probably before you even realized it.
- You had a restlessness (spiritual thirst) that began your search for truth and your journey to faith.
This exercise is really good to help you identify your own story of transformation.
Over time and with practice, you’ll learn to ‘expand’ or ‘contract’ certain events of your timeline as you see fit.
What people need to hear is HOW God has worked in your life to answer your deepest questions, and HOW you are experiencing transformation right now.
In your happy place? Have your notebook at the ready…and let’s start at the very beginning, that’s the best place to start.
1. What was your faith like as a child?
2. What was your faith like as a teenager?
3. What is your faith like as an adult?
4. If you have a definite conversion moment, write down the story of the day of your surrender to Jesus.
5. What were the surrounding circumstances of this event. Was it in a church or the privacy of your own home? Try and describe how you were feeling and what was going through your mind at that moment.
6. If you were responding to an alter call what was the sermon about? What made you go to church that day? What was it like to experience the irresistible call of God to surrender?
Your Back Story
7. Write down the names of the influential people in your life who introduced you to Jesus. They might be a parent, child, Sunday school teacher, relative, co-worker or close friend, or even someone in the street you had never met before. How did they impress you or get you thinking? It might have clarified a misconception, helped you see you need for Jesus, or spoken a word that bothered you and kept you thinking.
8. Did you have any encounters with God or receive any answers to prayer before you became a Christian? Describe them. Did they raise more questions for you than answers?
9. What were some of the longings and desires of your heart that drew you to Christ? Maybe it was that you wanted to know who God was, you were looking to fill the emptiness you had, to find forgiveness or to experience real love. Try your best to express this as if you are talking face to face with a friend.
10. How would you describe the central issue or question of your journey? How did God answer this?
11. Can you identify a point in your journey where you could finally agree that it was sin that separated you from God? Describe that point as best as you can. For some people, it might be after the moment of surrender.
12. Describe how you began to understand your own sinfulness without feeling a hostile defensive reaction. What role did your friends above or God play in helping you make this discovery?
The Role of the Local Church
13. If you accepted an invitation to attend a local church or small home meeting for the first time before you became a Christian, what helped you respond positively to that invitation? What was happening in your life that made going to church the right thing to do at the time? What were your expectations and what was your experience?
14. What was the influence of the pastor of this local church in your journey to you becoming a Christian?
15. What was the influence of the worship services during your journey?
What Difference has Jesus made to your Life?
16. If I had to tell someone why I am a Christian I would have to say…
17. How did God meet your need or central question raised above? Examples: I was once a self-hater, now I know that God loves me. I was greedy, but now I find more joy in generosity. I was a victim of sexual abuse, God helped me to forgive and get healing.
18. How have you been changed by God?
Thinking of Your Unsaved Friends
19. Make a prayer list and write down the names of three people you know are not Christians. Where do you think they are in their journey?
20. What resources, events, gatherings, or experiences might help them become more engaged in their spiritual journey?
21. How can you help them identify the inner hope or unsatisfied longing that might move them through disquiet to an awareness of their need for God? It might be a longing to do more, to be a good person, have a healthy, happy marriage. This spiritual restlessness comes in many forms and affects us all differently.
22. What steps can you take this week to raise their spiritual curiosity and maybe bring them one step closer to Christ?
I’m so grateful to God for all He has done in my life, totally turned it around. I know God is faithful and wherever you are right now I know He will do the same for you. God is bigger than we think and He has a life planned out for us that will take us to places we could have never imagined!
Feel free to comment below with your own experience and share this resource with others.