We have been honoured to teach our Foundation Course at a one week GCS School of Evangelism and Discipleship in Yerevan, Armenia.
A highlight of the week focused on learning how to share a clear and concise testimony. Everyone had the chance to strike a match and practise sharing their own testimony, cut down to the bare bones before the match goes out!!!
A fun exercise helping everyone to focus on what they share with people. Here is some excellent footage of people sharing their testimonies in the time it takes to burn a matchstick (about 20 seconds), followed by some guidance notes on how to prepare your testimony (see below):
Here are some guidance notes:
PREPARING YOUR TESTIMONY
It’s great to look at examples of other people. Take a closer look at Paul’s testimony in Acts 21:37 to Acts 22:21. Paul generally divided his testimony into three parts:
- Before (Acts 22:1-5) – He described what he thought and did before he became a believer.
- How (Acts 22:6-11). – Paul explained how he became a believer.
- After (Acts 22:12-21). – Paul explained how becoming a believer changed his life.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR PERSONAL TESTIMONY
- Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and guidance as you write (James 1:5, 6).
- Follow a three-point outline:
- Before I received Christ
- How I received Christ.
- After I received Christ.
- Questions to consider as you write your personal testimony.
- Before I received Christ
- What was my life like? What were my attitudes, needs, problems?
- Around what did my life revolve the most? From what did I get my security or happiness?
- How did those areas begin to disappoint me?
- To what source did I look for security, peace of mind, happiness? In what ways were my activities unsatisfying?
Remember that examples will establish you as a credible witness in the minds of non-Christians. Avoid a religious focus. Do not spend a great amount of time talking about church activities before your life began to change. Likewise, avoid being explicit and sensational in speaking of drugs, immorality, crime or drunkenness.
- How I received Christ
- When was the first time I heard the Gospel? How? (When was I exposed to true Christianity?)
- What were my initial reactions
- When did my attitude begin to change? Why?
- What were the final struggles that went through my mind just before I accepted Christ?
- Even though there were struggles, why did I decide to accept Christ?
- After I received Christ.
- Specific changes and illustrations about the changes Christ has made in my life, actions and attitudes.
- How long did it take before I noticed changes?
- Why am I motivated differently?
- What if I received Christ at an early age? If you received Christ at an early age, you will probably be able to follow the three-point outline. However, you will probably put a greater emphasis on your life after receiving Christ.
HOW TO PRESENT YOUR TESTIMONY
- Rehearse your testimony until it becomes natural.
- Share your testimony with conviction in the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember that a successful testimony is one communicated in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Be joyful. Ask the Lord to give you a pleasant and natural countenance.
- Speak clearly but in a natural, relaxed tone. Speak loudly enough to be heard.
- Do not talk on the way to or from your seat
- Avoid nervous mannerism such as rubbing your nose, swaying, jingling coins in your pocket, playing with a pencil or clearing your throat.
- Avoid using emotional pressure in your testimony to obtain decisions for Christ. Only God through the Holy Spirit changes hearts (Matthew 16:17; John 3:5,6; 1 Corinthians 2:4,5).
- Limit your testimony to three minutes in length. This is long enough to say what you need to say without going too long and losing interest.
Guidelines for Writing Your Testimony
Points to remember when preparing your personal testimony.
What to do:
- Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and guidance as you write.
- Prepare your testimony so it communicates with groups as well as with individuals.
- Keep within your time limit.
- Be realistic. Do not imply that Christ removes all of life’s problems, but rather that he enables you to live through them as you walk in obedience.
- Consider your audience. Write and speak to communicate with the particular group you are addressing so that they are able to identify with you.
- Speak boldly about Jesus. He is the main focus of your testimony.
What not to do:
- Do not make statements that reflect negatively on the church, organizations or people.
- Avoid mentioning denominations or churches by name.
- Avoid speaking in a preaching manner. Make your delivery in a normal conversational tone.
- Do not use vague terms such as “joyful,” “peaceful,” “happy” or “changed” without explaining them.
- Avoid using biblical or religious words such as “saved,” “converted,” “convicted,” or “sin” without clarifying what you mean. These words do not communicate to non-Christians.
- Write as though you were speaking to a friend rather than giving a formal speech.
- Begin with an attention-getting sentence or incident.
- Be positive from start to finish
- Be specific. Give enough details to arouse interest.
- Be accurate.
- Include interesting, thought-provoking experiences.
- Use one or two Bible verses, but only where they relate directly to your experience. Explain the references if your audience is not familiar with the Bible. (Example: “One of Jesus’ disciples said. . .” rather than “1 John 5:11-13 says. . .”)
- Edit and rewrite as needed.
- Write a closing that provides a finished and logical conclusion.
Evaluate your testimony by asking yourself the following questions:
- Does my testimony express assurance that I know I have eternal life?
- Have I clearly communicated how a person can receive Christ?
- Does my testimony deal with issues with the theme of my testimony?
- What positive benefits of my relationship with Christ have I emphasized in my testimony?
- Have I included an attention-getting opening sentence? Do I have a clear statement to close the testimony?