“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’” (Matthew 9:13) Think of the difference that one teacher who is merciful can make in a school. Think of the difference in a business or a church or a family when there’s one person with a tender heart who...
September is Listener Stories Month, where we encourage you to tell us how you’ve been impacted by Unlocking the Bible!
When preparing your testimony, ask yourself, “How do the details of my story ultimately point to God’s bigger story in the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
Bible teacher Nancy Guthrie explains the importance of this in a powerful way:
There are lots of voices out there today who will say that there is power in simply telling your story. To an extent that is true. But our stories alone have little power to inspire or change lives. What is more important is figuring out how to use our stories to tell God’s story.
Preparing Your Testimony
It is tempting to get caught up in the details of our own experiences, making our story an end in itself. But, as Christians, preparing and sharing our stories should be about so much more. Our testimonies should point people to the bigger story of God’s gospel.
Share your testimony in two minutes.
We’ve all heard endlessly long testimonies which lost their effectiveness because of their length! Regardless of how interesting we believe our personal stories are, we should keep in mind the limited attention span of our listeners:
People now generally lose concentration after eight seconds, highlighting the affects [sic] of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain. (Kevin McSpadden, TIME Magazine)
An eight-second attention span may be exaggerated, but it makes a good point. We do not have limitless amounts of time to share what God has done in our lives, so we must be concise, clear, and compelling.
A good rule-of-thumb is to prepare a two-minute testimony on paper. Write down your main thoughts, then edit the testimony to include only the most compelling and clear points about how the gospel of Jesus Christ has transformed your life. Pass along your words to a trusted member of the body of Christ, someone whom you trust will give you honest and helpful feedback.
Then practice sharing your testimony out loud in about two minutes or less.
Share God’s story through your testimony.
Follow Nancy Guthrie’s wisdom by figuring out how to use your story to share God’s bigger story. If you do this, the opportunity may present itself later to talk more about Jesus Christ.
Here are some questions to help you share God’s story through your testimony:
- At what point did I understand that Jesus Christ reigns over creation as Lord? When did I first grasp his authority over all things, including my life?
- At what point did I understand that I was an enemy of God by nature? (This could address outward, rebellious acts or the more hidden, inward sins of pride, lust, shame, etc.)
- When did the Holy Spirit open my eyes to see the gravity and consequences of my sin?
- How did I first grasp that Jesus Christ came to save sinners by bearing their sin on the cross?
- What was my response to God’s free gift of grace given through the righteousness of Jesus? How has believing on Christ changed my perspective on the world and my circumstances? How has Christ changed my desires and pursuits? What have I learned about God’s character through the gospel?
- How would I encourage someone to put his or her faith in Jesus?
These are only several questions to spur on your thought process. Listen to various testimonies to hear examples of how other believers have structured their stories. There is not one right way, but there is only one truth — so make it your goal to share it!
(Some great Bible passages that clearly explain God’s story are Romans 8:31-34, Isaiah 53:3-6, Romans 5:6-11, and 1 Corinthians 15:3-4.)
Share an invitation to faith in Christ.
Finally, wrap up your testimony by inviting the listener(s) to faith in Jesus Christ. Consider Peter’s testimony to Cornelius in Acts 10:34-43, when he finishes with this invitation: “Everyone who believes in [Jesus] receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Use whatever opportunity God has given you — whether at a church event, in your workplace, or while hanging out with unbelieving friends — to encourage people to surrender their lives to Jesus Christ’s gracious Lordship and rule.
A Final Word
Always remember that your testimony is a miracle of God’s grace. This is true of every believer! Some of our stories may seem more dramatic than others, but all believers were raised from death to life when Christ saved us…and that is a miracle.