Sharing your Story
When it comes to telling others about Jesus, nothing is more powerful than our story of personal experience. Apologists can argue the facts and theologians can dive deep in Biblical terms, but what people long to hear is an authentic story of life change from someone like them. Sharing a life experience with someone else is common in our normal flow of conversation and not something odd, strange, or weird. Due to the personal nature of such story telling, it is also something that is seldom argued or debated.
Think for a minute about the last time you shared with a friend a story of a good experience at a restaurant. I am pretty sure that your friend didn't say, "I think you are making that up, you didn't really go there and the food wasn't really that good!". They may decide that the experience was specific to you and have no desire to try it themselves, or they may make plans to visit the restaurant as soon as possible, but they will likely not challenge your passion about something you enjoyed.
I believe that we make the sharing of our faith in Christ way too complicated and scary. As a result it is something that few believers are very active in and as a result many around us (and around the world) wait to hear or have misunderstandings about who Jesus is and what he has done for them. Most of our conversations are built around stories from our daily experiences. We take every opportunity to tell about some good thing or place that we have visited or an event has happened to us. Why is it that sharing about our life changing encounter with Jesus any different?
One thing that has been a huge help to me is to craft my story ahead of time and have it ready to share. By this I mean, it is easy to give too much information and to overwhelm the listener. I need to pick out the key points and details and cut out anything that might distract or confuse.
The big four topics of a good testimony are:
What my life was like before meeting Jesus.
What led me to believe that his death and resurrection could restore my broken relationship with God
How I practically received this gift
How my life has been different after this decision.
Based on the time you are allowed or the depth of relationship you share with the listener you may color the story with more of the personal details, but answering these four questions is the heart of a good testimony. While we may all differ in the specifics of our experience, these are the core of our faith and the message that our friends need most to hear. In a good testimony, Jesus is really the main character and our unique personality and situation provides the opportunity to display his powerful love and grace.
A good place to start is to answer the four questions on a piece of paper and to move your words around until it sounds authentic and just right. From start to finish, it should take about ninety seconds to read these four key points.
Challenge: If you will commit this to memory, it will always be in your back pocket and ready to share. I promise that once you have your testimony loaded and ready like this, you will find yourself inserting it into conversations all the time!