A testimony means we profess our faith publicly to a person or multiple persons. We share who Jesus is and what He has done for us.
What is involved in a Testimony?
Having a prepared testimony can result in a fun, exciting way to share Jesus Christ with ease. The key is to be prepared so you are not governed by fears, but rather by the joy that is in you, and a desire to pronounce it to others with your expressions and personality. If you are thinking that this is too scary, that you do not like to sell things, or if you are worried about what others will say, don't fret. Realize that you are sharing your life experiences and encounter with Jesus Christ just as you would share anything with another person, with the exception that this is much more vital and important, and has eternal ramifications. You can do it! Your Christian experience is your reality that you can share with someone else when the door opens to do that.
Your testimony will provide the example and proof of Jesus Christ's work in you that will be used to influence others. Your testimony is precious as it is authoritative, and something that others cannot condemn even if they try, because it is an authentic story from your real, personal experience. You are bearing evidence and reasons why you had a change and commitment to Jesus Christ. You are not presenting abstract theological ideas, but rather real, heartfelt, relevant life issues and facts that you know and have experienced firsthand. This helps others relate to you and to the realities of what a Christian is.
Your testimony will also help others know who Jesus Christ is and what He has done in terms they can identify and understand.
How do you do this? Composing a testimony is easy, as you have already lived it. All you need to do now is write it down. You can do this in a conversational style, just as if you are talking to someone, because that is exactly what you do when you share it. You present what the Gospel is (what Christ has done), why the Gospel is important to you (what Jesus Christ has done in you), and how God has helped you and how your life has changed for the better. Now, think about how you can tell this to others. Write out your testimony as a story. Keep it short, simple, vivid, and true. People love human-interest stories because they can identify with other people's journeys in life. It connects you with them. Allow your life in Jesus Christ to touch others through your personal story.
To help you understand this process, Paul gives his testimony in Acts 22:1-16 and 26:9-23. This is a prime, biblical example of how you can do yours and that it can be short and to the point, too. Paul lays out a simple, four-point plan that can be effectively used by anyone in any culture or time. It is based on four points:
- what I was like before Jesus Christ,
- how I realized my need for Jesus Christ,
- how I received Jesus Christ, and
- how my life is meaningful now that I am in Jesus Christ.
What Do I say?
Below is a testimony outline with questions to ask yourself, along with suggestions on how to make a great testimony of God working in you. Included are some key points and questions you can ask yourself to help you prepare your testimony. Look over each of these categories and make your own outline by answering the four main questions. Then look over the rest of the suggestions and questions and identify which ones are pertinent to your story and timing. Keep in mind that the first point is the shortest and the third point the longest. Then, you can add to it from the ideas. Also keep in mind that not all of the suggestions will be needed or applied.
Pray, and ask our Lord to give you wisdom and direction. Your story is special and unique. God has given you the life you have for a purpose. He has brought you through life and the experiences you have faced for a reason. The things you have been through-good or bad-are never a waste, especially when you share them to help someone else through, too. Now is the time for your life to be used to touch and encourage others for His glory. Your life-action-paced or boring and dull-has been relevant and thought provoking, so make sure your testimony is, too. What you may consider dull might be just what someone else needs to hear.
Remember, your audience is not Christian, and they may know nothing of Christian culture. Or, perhaps Christians have abused them, so they may have a skewed view of Christ and Christians. Thus, keep your testimony short, to the point, and personal. Use short, simple phrases and every day, informal, conversational language that people can understand. You should have two testimonies, a real short one that is one-half to one minute long, and one that is longer, two to four minutes long. If you do not have a good memory, write or outline your testimony on a 3 X 5 index card. The three- or four-minute one will be about 250 to 500 words max, using the following four points:
1. Before: How and what were you like before becoming a Christian? Why did you need Jesus Christ and His Grace? This is where you explain what your life was like before you trusted Christ, and what you tried that did not work. Include how you thought, how and why you were not content or happy, what your character, your temperament, and your behaviors were like, etc. Keep this section the shortest. Make sure you do not glorify how you were before.
• Why did you need Jesus Christ and His Grace? Use some things such as feeling empty, fear, no meaning to life, something missing, no real friends, lack of purpose, no real motivation, lack of peace, loneliness, guilt, despair, searching for self worth, drugs, desire to be in control, broken home, etc.
• You can also explain that chasing other things-such as work, money, education, sports, hobbies, entertainment, social life, sex, politics, dealing with a tragedy, or obligations-did not fulfill or satisfy you.
• Never glorify your previous sins or lifestyle, or say that what you gave up is better, because it is not.
• Breathe and relax. Make eye contact. Speak clearly and slowly.
• Don't be boring, critical, or preach at people. Never put down or criticize other churches, denominations, or representative Christian personalities (even the wacky ones). Rather, just speak calmly and share about the value of being In Jesus Christ.
• Tell the truth, don't exaggerate, and never make things up to produce a better sounding testimony. God will use the "real" you more than the "fake" you!
• Be enthusiastic and show His care. It is important that you come across as really believing in what you are saying, because you believe and trust in Jesus Christ.
• Smile often; this shows you care and that Jesus Christ makes you feel good.
• Try not to be too fidgety or make noise. Be aware of poor posture or nervous habits. Distracting gestures or too many hand movements divert people's attention from your message.
• God honors preparation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
2. Reasons: What prompted you to want to know about Jesus Christ? What were the reasons you felt the need for Jesus Christ? Consider any event(s) that helped shape you such as crises, sin, feelings, people and/or mentors, and include examples and Scriptures that have influenced you. This is where you can share the Gospel message that God loves you, and that although the reality of sin dictates that all of humanity has sinned and will be judged and condemned, the great news is that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty of death. Help your audience understand that they need to receive Jesus Christ too, and can respond to His free gift of Grace by turning from their sins and placing their trust in Jesus.
• Share the Gospel message that God loves you, the reality of sin that all of humanity has sinned and will be judged and condemned, and the great news that Jesus Christ has paid our penalty of death. Emphasize that others need to receive Jesus Christ, and can respond to His free gift of grace by turning from their sins and placing their trust in Jesus Christ.
• Share how you realized that you needed Jesus Christ.
• Emphasize Jesus Christ's work in you, not the bad you have done prior to salvation. Your job is not a drama presentation; it is to present Jesus Christ and your victory in Him.
• Highlight the point or person that made the difference by showing you who Jesus Christ is.
• Bring Jesus Christ into your story by making the Bible the authority, not just your story.
• If you grew up in a Christian home, share when Jesus Christ started to be real for you and when your faith became personal and real, not just a part of your family.
• Remember, your purpose is to share your experiences with Jesus Christ in a loving, caring, as well as in a convincing and convicting way so others can start to have an interest in wanting to know Him.
• Pause for emphasis so the people can absorb what you have said.
• Be sensitive, clear, and simple. Also, be sensitive to the audience's culture and experiences.
• Remember to feature Jesus Christ, and not yourself.
3. How: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ? How did you place your trust in Jesus Christ? This is where you explain how your Christian experience and faith occurred.
• How did you receive Jesus Christ? What took place including events, places, and people?
• Why did you need Jesus Christ to make your life full and meaningful?
• What would your life be like if you had not accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and/or made Him Lord of your life?
• Be very careful how you use humor. Never condescend or make fun of others!
• Recount any misconceptions about Christianity you once had, such as how you saw Christians before your conversion versus how you see them now.
• Do not make audacious statements, such as Jesus Christ will heal you or God told me to tell you. This removes any credibility. If God makes a move, He does not need you to say so!
• Don't tear down or use negative remarks. Be positive!
• Remember, the gospel of our Lord is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Rely on His Word and the Holy Spirit, not your words.
• Remember, do not "oversell" Him. Allow Him to use you. It is the Spirit that sells!
• It is best to quote at least one or two clear salvation verses (no more than three), such as John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 5:13. Then, when people want to hear more, use the information in the following sections. Remember to feature Jesus Christ, and not you.
4. After: How are you different now that you have trusted in Jesus Christ? What has your life been like since? Concerning purpose, how has Jesus Christ made your life full, deep, and meaningful, and given you contentment, security, and the Spirit? What are the changes that took place? Be positive and encouraging, and never put other Christians or churches down, never be condescending, and never be angry!
1. What has Jesus Christ meant to you personally? What has Jesus Christ meant to you in your daily life?
2. How does Jesus Christ make your life full, deep, and meaningful now?
3. Remember, you are a work in progress; make sure your audience knows that!
4. What are the changes that took place in your life after you received Christ?
5. What has God's faithfulness to you meant in your life and to your family?
6. Don't use Christian "jargon." Words such as born again, sacrificed, saved, glorious, lost, washed in the blood, convicted, Amen, halleluiah, or converted do not mean anything to most non-Christians.
7. Don't let your testimony become a nuisance by going on and on. Short and simple really is the best. Don't keep talking just to talk.
8. Don't brag about yourself or put down other Christians, churches, or come across in any a derogatory, critical, or negative way.
9. Remember, don't oversell yourself or Jesus Christ (He does not need to be sold!) or be sensational in any way. This is only distracting and removes credibility.
10. Be real and honest. Share that becoming a Christian may not solve all problems or cause us to be healed; life can still be a struggle. However, with Jesus Christ, we have the strength and empowerment of the Spirit to persevere successfully.
11. Don't make statements that may not be true, such as, "When you become a Christian, all of your problems will be solved."
13. Be positive and encouraging, never condescending or angry!
14. Make sure you convey the assurance that you have in Jesus Christ and in eternal life.
After you have practiced and used your testimony, seek how you can improve it.
We need to let the Word of our Lord touch and remind us that our speech reflects upon the God we serve! Everything we do as a child of God must be done with integrity, truthfulness, and honesty, as we are not only representing Him, but also He is living in us! Jesus calls us to be true to our word as a testimony of our faith in Him. We are not to be worldly with our words or integrity, or drag or defile His good name with feeble, easily retracted words.
Remember, your purpose is to share your experience with Jesus Christ in a loving, caring, as well as in a convincing and convicting way so others can start to have an interest in wanting to know Him. To make your testimony more effective, make sure you practice with someone who can give you good, positive feedback. And, be willing to augment and refine your testimony to improve it and make it fit the situation. Make sure you do not do all of the talking, unless you are giving a public address. Listen to what the other person has to say. Keep in mind that some people may criticize you. Don't be fearful; that is between them and Jesus Christ. You know where you are going.