“Could you share your testimony?”
Those words instill fear in our hearts. A testimony? Me? What will I say? If that sounds familiar, read our responses to the concerns we hear the most often.
“I don’t have a testimony.”
Are you a Christian? Then you have a testimony. Whether you were a drug dealer who found Jesus in prison or a really good kid who had to realize you couldn’t win God’s love with good behavior, it makes no difference. We all got into this family the same way: by God’s grace.
Really, all of our testimonies boil down to the same thing: I was lost, but now I’m found. I was blind, but now I see.
“I don’t know what to say.”
Did you realize that we all share testimonies all the time? It’s true. Pay attention next time you’re hanging out with friends or gathered around the dinner table. What’s the majority of our conversation? Stories. We tell stories about what happened that day. We share memories from our childhood. We brag about our athletic exploits. We laugh about our most embarrassing moments. We tease one another about the crazy things we’ve said or done.
And that’s all a testimony is: it’s simply a story. And like any story, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Here are 3 ways you can effectively share the story of what God’s done in your life:
1. Pick one story.
Don’t recount your entire life’s history. Just pick one story that demonstrates God’s grace in your life. This may be the story of how you came to Christ. It may be a story of some way God has revealed himself to you. Consider the audience you’ll be sharing with, and ask God to show you a story from your life that will be relevant to them.
2. Keep it simple.
Don’t feel the need to share every detail of the story – just share what is needed to convey what happened. We find this structure helpful in keeping us on track:
What was your life like before God did what he did? What problems were you facing? How were you living, and how did it affect others around you? Paint a picture of what was going on and why you needed God’s help.
In literature class, we’d call this the “climax” of the story. This is the whole point: what did God do? Make sure that you make it about Jesus.
How is your life different now that God did what he did? How did the problems you describe in the Beginning change? Don’t paint a rosy tint on things and pretend that everything is perfect now; just honor God for what he has done.
3. Keep it short.
Are you sharing your story one-on-one? Don’t overwhelm the other person by talking endlessly about yourself. Make it a conversation. Are you sharing your story publicly? You will rapidly lose people’s attention if you ramble. Aim for three to five minutes. Are you sharing your story through a translator? Use short sentences and simple phrases. Avoid slang or idioms that are difficult to translate (i.e., “it was raining cats and dogs” doesn’t work in other languages). Most importantly, don’t talk to the translator – talk to the person or audience, even though they have to wait for the translation to understand.
“I don’t want to talk about my past.”
All of us have things we’ve done that we’re not proud of. The good news is, we’re forgiven and loved! Your past is just that: passed. It’s over. It’s behind you. And it’s got no business dictating how you will live in the present.
Please don’t let shame or fear keep you from letting God work through you. You have no idea how your story may impact someone who is dealing with some of the same struggles you’ve had. And you’ll probably be surprised by how many people can relate to what you share – even those on your team.