Developing Your Personal Testimony
Will You Share Your Story?
Who is on the outreach team? Everybody!!
Everybody’s on the team:
- Player #1 – Anyone with a changed life
If your life has been changed by Christ, you have a story to live and to tell.
- Player #2 – Inviter/bringer
Almost everyone in the body of Christ has the opportunity to be a bringer and an inviter. Player #3 involves teamwork, Body Life.
- Player #3 – Above and beyond Body Life
Then the body of Christ can come together to show the difference by serving. I would love to see our Connections Classes and the Summit body defined by reaching out and not by just meeting together. Player #4 is the one who shares the gospel with others.
- Player #4 – Gospel Presenter
God willing, next week we will talk about the essence and uniqueness of the gospel, and we will begin to make these handouts available to you on an ongoing basis to share with others. This morning, we are going to focus on sharing your personal story of meeting Christ. It’s called the testimony. There are basically two categories of testimonies. One is the salvation testimony, and the other is the story of Christian growth.
2 types of testimonies
There are also two types of salvation testimonies:
2 types of salvation testimonies
Both are special!
The Paul testimony is sometimes more dramatic and may come from a background that was either opposed to Christianity or not exposed to the gospel. The Timothy testimony comes from one who is raised in a Christian environment. Those with Timothy testimonies still have to make a commitment to confess, to repent, and to follow Jesus, but they are blessed to have been raised in a Christian upbringing and often don’t have as many wasted years. My wife, Chris, has a Timothy testimony, and I have a Paul testimony.
Both categories of salvation testimonies have four parts. Here are the four key elements:
4 Parts of a Testimony
Let’s look first at B.C., our lives before choosing to follow Jesus.
The 4 parts of a salvation testimony:
My Life Before Christ
You can read more about Paul’s story but here is what he says in verses 5 and 9-10:
“They have known me for a long time and can testify, if they are willing, that I conformed to the strictest sect of our religion, living as a Pharisee. I too was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is just what I did in Jerusalem. On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the Lord’s people in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them.”
Paul’s story is an unusual one. He was an active persecutor of those who belonged to the Way, the first name given to the first century followers of Christ. He was well-respected by the Jewish leaders and was in line to become a very significant leader in Judaism. Here are a few suggestions on how to begin your salvation story. First, be genuine.
- Be real and relational.
Don’t play games; don’t try to be someone other than the person God made you. I recommend highly that you begin by taking a genuine interest in the other person. Invite them to share their stories first. Find out what’s important to them. Really listen not just to their words but to their hearts. As you do that, it may be easier to find a connection to share your testimony.
- Look for connections.
What might help build bridges with the person with whom you are sharing? I grew up in a military home and was unchurched with no Christian teaching or involvement. Since I am a pastor today, that news surprises some and helps open doors with those who have similar backgrounds. I also tell them that I had a family who loved me and took care of me. I had a strong sports background, which helps open doors with some. As I shared a few weeks ago, it really surprised me that my basketball background would give me something in common with a 19 year old female Muslim hotel dancer who lives in North Africa. I didn’t have a crisis point that led me to God, but I did know that there was something missing in my life. When you listen and ask questions, bridges are often built. At some point it’s important to let the person know that your pursuit of meaning and purpose in life fell short.
- What personal pursuits fell short?
I believed there was a god but had a misconception about Christianity. People try to find meaning and purpose in life in so many different ways –education, marriage, family, money, possessions, etc. In essence I had created my own belief system. I am discovering that many people today are doing the same thing – designing their own religion, their own belief system. Personally, I thought that the way to be forgiven of my sins (I knew that I was a sinner!) was to do more good things than bad things. I believed that God kept a moral score sheet on my life. If my good deeds outnumbered my bad deeds, then I was okay. When I finally heard the accurate story of Christianity, I knew I was wrong. This is the second part of your story – how God chooses to reveal Himself to us.
How God revealed Himself to me
- How does God reveal Himself today?
God reveals Himself in so many powerful ways. The primary way is through the Scriptures
How did God reveal Himself to you? Be very specific.
- Be specific.
For me, there were four clear ways that God revealed Himself to me:
Ways that God revealed Himself to me:
A friend’s simple testimony of meeting Christ
Her changed life over time
A friend who invited me to places where I would hear about Christ
The body life of a group of kids at camp
An adult who invested simply in my life through basketball
A man who shared the gospel message
As you share your story, it’s important to mention your personal decision to follow Christ.
When, where, and how I made my commitment to Christ
“On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. We all fell to the ground and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and will see of me.’”
Your story is special! When, where, and how?
If you don’t remember the date, time, and place that you made your commitment to follow Jesus, go back and try to confirm it – if you can’t remember the exact date, try to establish or even approximate the year and/or the month. For me, it was a Friday night, June 21, at a student camp. When I am with those who make decisions to follow Christ, I try to help them remember that date as a spiritual birthday. It’s a day to celebrate for eternity; it’s the most important day of your life! And when you share the story of your commitment to Christ, I want to encourage you to watch your language.
- Watch your language!
I’m not talking about cursing, although I don’t recommend profanity either! Be careful about all the religious language used that might be confusing to people. Here is a partial list:
Watch your “churchy” language!
“Walked down the aisle”
“Went to the altar”
“Prayed the sinner’s prayer”
“Joined the church”
“I was baptized”
The phrase I recommend that you use is: “I made my decision to follow Christ as my Savior and as my Lord…
This could be a good opportunity for you to share briefly a summary of what is involved in following Christ.
- Briefly share the highlights of the Gospel – G O G O
God’s invitation – Loves us and invites us to follow Him
Our problem – Sin – all of us fall short
God’s initiative – He came to us as God the Son in human form & paid the price for our sin debt.
Our response – Walk away or follow Him
Another exciting part of your testimony is how things are different since you chose to follow Jesus.
My Life Since Choosing to Follow Christ
A.D., Anno Domini, means “in the year of our Lord.”
- What are the blessings? Endless…
There are so many – peace, assurance, joy, forgiveness, purpose in life, home in heaven, stronger relationships, deliverance from self-destructive behavior.
It’s also important to help people understand that life continues to bring struggles.
- Be transparent. Nobody has it all together.
We need to make sure that other people understand that we don’t have it all together and that there are still some growth changes that need to occur in our lives. This is the point in your story where it would be very appropriate to turn the attention back to the person you are with. In a loving way, you can ask them about their relationships with the Lord.
- Transition to the Gospel…
Have you made a commitment to follow Christ – is that something you’re thinking about? Are there some questions I could try to answer for you?
And here are a few other suggestions for you as you share your story.
- Don’t criticize churches, denominations, other religions.
- Show genuine interest in the other person.
3. Don’t argue or come across as self-righteous.
4. Share with grace and humility. Focus on what Christ has done, not what you have done. Focus on what Christ has done, not what you have done. Paul does this very well in verses 23-24: “They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.” Notice that he doesn’t say: “And they praised me because of God.” There’s a big difference between these two.
Develop, memorize, practice, pray, and share your story!
5. Memorize, practice, pray, and share! Keep this in mind – you may have opportunities to share the whole story, but you may also have opportunities to share different aspects of your testimony. Be led by the Spirit.
6. Equip others to share.
7. Remember that we cannot save anyone.
All of us today are telling a story by the way that we live. We all have footprints. Are mine worth following? I can assure you that your footsteps are worth following if you are following Christ. I love what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Every follower of Christ has a testimony or a story to tell. I believe it is a powerful opportunity to share the Good News. Share it for God’s glory. And remember that we can’t save anyone. Only God can save. Our job is to share the Good News. Sharing your story may open the door to sharing The Story.