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:
1. Before (Acts 22:1-5) – He described what he thought and did before he became a believer.
2. How (Acts 22:6-11). – Paul explained how he became a believer.
3. 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:
1. Before I received Christ
2. How I received Christ.
3. After I received Christ.
• Questions to consider as you write your personal testimony.
1. 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.
2. 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?
3. 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
1. Rehearse your testimony until it becomes natural.
2. Share your testimony with conviction in the power of the Holy Spirit. Remember that a successful testimony is communicated in the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Be joyful. Ask the Lord to give you a pleasant and natural countenance.
4. Speak clearly but in a natural, relaxed tone. Speak loudly enough to be heard.
5. Do not talk on the way to or from your seat
6. Avoid nervous mannerism such as rubbing your nose, swaying, jingling coins in your pocket, playing with a pencil or clearing your throat.
7. 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).
8. 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.
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?
TOP 10 TIPS TO SHARING / WRITING
AN EFFECTIVE TESTIMONY
1. PRAY: Before you begin writing your testimony, take time to talk with the Lord Jesus Christ about writing out or speaking your testimony. Each opportunity is a witnessing tool that God can use to touch a life. Allow Him to guide your words.
2. MOTIVE: Make sure that you are sharing your testimony with the right motive and attitude.
3. OBJECTIVE: The reason that you are sharing your testimony is to impact another person’s life with the Gospel that has impacted you. Knowing your objective is of primary importance as it will influence the words that you choose to share within the allocated time-frame.
4. JARGON: Be careful about using words that unsaved audience members won’t know. The longer you are saved, and the more time you spend in church, the harder it is to remember that people outside the church don’t understand all of our vocabulary. Also remember that other religious groups use the same words we do in Christian churches, but have a different meaning to their vocabulary. The more you can give your testimony using common words, the clearer your communication will be.
5. TIME: Watch your time. If you are told you have 3 minutes to give your testimony, then you need to stay within that time limit. This shows respect to your audience, the people providing the opportunity and to those speaking after you. If the listeners know you only have 3 minutes and you speak for 7 then it can be seen as boastful on your part. Make sure you honour God the one who saved you when you share your testimony with others. A helpful exercise is to have several versions of your testimony written out as follows:
1. x2 A4 sides: 20 minutes version
2. x1 A4 sides: 10 minutes version
3. x0.5 A4 side: 5 minutes version
4. x1 Sentence: Headline summary of your testimony
6. CONTENT: When sharing your testimony verbally or on paper, aim to share the following three essential elements (the order may vary from person to person):
1. What was your life like before accepting Jesus Christ as your Saviour?
i. Describe something of your background and outlook to life prior to making a personal commitment to Christ)
2. What led you to realise that you needed Jesus Christ in your life and how did you accept Him as your Saviour?
i. Tell your readers or listeners what brought you to the realization of your need of a Saviour. You don’t need to give a laundry list of your sins, but you should tell how you were brought to conviction. The Bible tells us that God’s law is what brings us to a knowledge of our need of salvation (Galatians 3:24). Sharing with the audience what God says about sin is an important element of your Christian testimony. You can do this by sharing various parts of the Ten Commandments and how they were convicting to you personally (if that is the case in your personal story). Your audience needs to know that the reason they should consider Jesus Christ is not because He can make them happy, but because God created them to have a relationship with Him and that they are sinners and He can forgive them.
ii. When you are done with your testimony everyone should know that Jesus is the answer to their problem of sin. Your salvation is not what you were able to accomplish on your own, but it was purchased by Jesus on the cross (Titus 3:5-7). Focus your testimony on pointing people to Jesus.
iii. Writing your testimony beforehand will be a big help in keeping you on track.
3. How has Jesus changed your life now?
i. Describe your current situation and what is God doing in your life today? It is great to hear what He did last year (or 30 years ago) in saving you, but your audience will want to know that God is still at work in your life today.)
7. STAY FOCUSED: Try to give the important elements of your testimony clearly and succinctly. If you have time or space you can give more information that will help illustrate your points. But don’t waste precious time telling stories that won’t help people know about how the Lord drew you to Himself.
8. BE HONEST: Share your testimony in an honest way. There is no reason to sensationalize or lie about the events in your life. Just because other people may have been saved out of a horrible background and you haven’t, doesn’t mean you are any less saved. There will be people in the audience who can relate to your real story, even if it sounds boring compared to someone else’s testimony. When you are honest God can use your words to reach others.
9. GIVE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES: Give your readers and listeners specific examples of how God worked in your life. Again, you don’t need to share the details of your sin. However, the more examples of real events you can give, the more the audience will relate. Those who are not saved will see more credibility in your testimony if you tell the real ways God has changed you.
10. KEEP PRACTICING & TAKE ADVICE: Practice makes perfect. Once you have written out your testimony, get an experienced preacher to edit your testimony and offer you advice.