An important part of sharing the Good News of Jesus with people is your own account of how Jesus has changed your life. This is often referred to as your personal testimony. As we touch people’s lives with the gospel, they often want to know more than the basic Bible verses and gospel information. They are curious about what made you decide to follow Jesus and the difference it has made since then.
Composing Your Testimony
- Think through the circumstances that brought you to faith in Jesus. Were you raised in a Christian home, or did you find Christ from another type of environment? How has following Jesus made you different from what you might have been otherwise?
- Write out your story, aiming for no more than a page or two. If you have a brief passage of scripture to share, which will highlight some aspect of your testimony, that can be included. It is helpful to organize your story according to the following segments:
What life was like before I found Jesus. Relate your thinking, attitudes and lifestyle before Jesus had any meaningful place in your life. Were you sad, selfish, bored or just plain oblivious to the issues of life? If you came from a Christian home, was that helpful in finding Jesus?
How I found Jesus. What were the long-term, and short-term circumstances which brought you to personal faith in Jesus? Was it a friend’s attractive life? A Christian meeting of some sort? Your parents’ prayers? Etc.
My life since faith in Christ. Honestly describe the difference knowing Jesus has made. Have your thinking, attitudes or actions changed in any meaningful way? Has there been any power to change habits or resist sin? Have people noticed these changes?
- Refine your testimony. Make sure that the words you use to describe your experience communicate clearly to people who don’t understand Christian terminology. Make sure you are absolutely truthful in telling your story. Pray for clarity of mind and words as well as openness in people’s hearts.
- Watch out for these mistakes: A preachy or superior attitude; Negative remarks about specific types of churches or individuals; Christian slang words; Apologizing for what you believe are your poor speaking skills; Taking too much time and becoming a bore.
Remember, you are pointing people to Jesus, not to yourself. People need to see how great and merciful he is, not how amazing your story is.
Presenting Your Testimony
You will probably have many opportunities to share your faith-story over the course of your life. You may be asked to share in a service or meeting of some kind, or maybe the subject will be appropriate as you are talking with friends. It is best to have at least the basic outline of your testimony memorized so that you can make the most of these opportunities.
When asked to speak before a sizeable group you will want to carefully plan and rehearse what you have to say. Review your written work, perhaps even reading it out loud several times and then saying it without the aid of your manuscript. Aim for several minutes. Be respectful of whatever time limits your hosts may give you. Speak clearly and don’t rush through your presentation. Smile and show enthusiasm (if Jesus has changed your life for the better, it ought to show in a positive way). Pray that God will use you to bring blessing into the life of each person present.
Remember that this is your own unique story. There is no need for you to be like anyone else. Never be ashamed of how the Lord has led you through your life so far. His ways are always best. You can be an encouragement to others who relate to your story so that they may also find God’s plan and presence in their lives!
In the last several decades it seems as though there has been an effort on the part of some in our society to discredit Christianity. Followers of Jesus Christ are sometimes portrayed as bigoted, narrow-minded and hypocritical. It is insinuated that sincere believers are either willful relics of the Dark Ages or simply ignorant folks who have yet to get with the more enlightened modern times.
To be fair, there are cases in which the shoe does fit. No doubt, the isolated instances of hypocrisy or ignorance have been exploited to the maximum by Christianity’s detractors. It is absurd to suggest, however, that this ridiculous caricature of Christianity represents reality. I should know: I once believed it myself. It was a major turning point in my life to realize how twisted that picture often is.
So, I refuse to be ashamed of being a Christian. In these times when believers are often sneered at, there is a great temptation to take a low key approach to one’s faith. I refuse to be intimidated by this scorn. Here’s why:
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, the noblest person who ever lived. The Bible says that he is God the Son made into a human being. It also says that someday Jesus will return as judge of the earth, and that all authority both on earth and in heaven has been given to him even now. How could I be ashamed of being identified with him?
The Bible is God’s communication to us through various chosen servants. Through the years it has been vindicated against its critics many times. This is true archeologically, prophetically, textually and, not the least, in the powerful way it diagnoses human need and changes lives through its good news.
Christians are often wonderful people to associate with. Yes, there are hypocrites, backward folks and even phonies, but many, many believers are just quality people. Studies have shown that serious Christians are, in general, hard working, honest, less self-centered and more likely to have a strong family life. I have personally experienced true friendship as well as constructive criticism among those who identify themselves with Christ’s name.
Christianity has stood the test of time. The pages of history are littered with the wrecks of fads, trends and movements. The Christian Church in its various forms has proven amazingly adaptable to the ravages of the past 2,000 years and singularly difficult to suppress over time.
Finally, I am a better person for having committed my life to Christ many years ago. Following him has made me wiser, more realistic about myself, and able to survive the inevitable ups and downs of life in much better shape than I might have otherwise.
What about you? Are you a bit shy of being labeled a “religious fanatic” because of your association with Christ? Or perhaps it is this very type of fear that has deterred you from even investigating Jesus at all. Don’t be intimidated. There is no better way of spending your life than to follow him.