We all love stories, particularly stories that give you an insight into another person.
Part of the art of post-modern evangelism is storytelling.
As a child of God, you have a powerful story to tell.
Telling the story of how you came to Jesus and the difference that following Christ has made in your life can help others discover how they can know God personally.
The Journey to Faith Story
Shortly after I became a Christian in the late 1980s, I learned the phrase “Your Testimony.”
Your Christian testimony describes:
- How you became a follower of Christ in a conversion experience
- The journey or process where your faith in Christ become your own
- The life transformation God worked in your life
- How you recognized your personal need for Jesus
- How you responded to an invitation or nudging or calling
- The journey story of how you met Jesus
The Current Testimony Story
A second Christian testimony story is about God’s current activity in your life.
What is God doing in your life today that still makes the gospel good news?
How has God brought healing, restoration, and forgiveness to your life this year? How has God answered prayer this year?
Telling your story turns the information into experience.
Telling your story shows your experience with God. People may question it, dismiss it, but not argue with it.
My Conversion Story
I became a Christian while I was a teenager.
I grew up in an irreligious home, and didn’t attend church except on Christmas and Easter. My family of origin was stable, loving, and clearly middle class. No trauma, no abuse, no drug use, etc.
I lived with might be called a typically clean and moral suburban life.
The extent of my Christian knowledge was that Jesus was born in December, died in April, and did again every year.
I didn’t have a Bible.
As a teenager, I began to feel a yearning to know God, yet I wasn’t sure if God even existed.
I discovered the reality of God through an answered prayer. After taking a risk and praying to a God I wasn’t sure was there, I saw the answer to that prayer a few hours later.
When I observed that answer to prayer, the Lord spoke to me (though I didn’t hear audible words).
That was enough to convince me that God existed.
But I didn’t know what to do with that information.
A few months later, I listened to some people talk about knowing God better through a relationship with Christ.
It was simple for me to make the connection:
To know God personally,
I need to start following Jesus.
Therefore, I will.
That evening I made a commitment in my heart that I still live out this day. That was the moment I began to follow Jesus.
It was a moment of decision that has shaped my life.
Other significant pieces of my discipleship and growth came much later than these two moments.
I learned about repentance. I began to read the Bible. I began a life of prayer. I began attending church.
I eventually understood concepts like what happened at my salvation and what Jesus did for me by dying on the cross.
When I started following Jesus, I did not have an understanding of the gospel. That came later as I grew as a disciple.
I began a discovery of the love of God for me in Christ Jesus that has captured me since that decisive moment. That is how my life is different.
Two Turning Points in My Story
The basic outline of my journey to faith hangs on two major discovery points.
- An internal curiosity to know if God existed led to a discovery that He existed
- A decisive commitment to follow Jesus.
Understanding all that happened in those moments took some time.
Over the last decades, I’ve discovered more of God’s faithfulness, the power of the Holy Spirit using me, and the faithfulness of his word.
Outline Your Own Journey to Faith Story
There are two types of story for conversion testimonies:
- Your conversion experience
- Your gradual acceptance of the Christian faith as your own (grew up in the faith).
Turning points in your Christian story give you a basic outline.
Think about your life before you met the Lord or before you knew that the faith of your parents was now yours.
- What was going on in your life leading up to your conversion?
- What problems or needs were you facing at the time?
- How did your life change after that?
- What was the spiritual need that propelled you to seek after God?
- What made the offer of salvation attractive enough to repent?
What if I’ve Grown Up Around the Christian Faith?
You may not have had a conversion experience like mine or the Apostle Paul’s.
You may have always grown up knowing that you were a follower of Christ.
Perhaps there was a season where you tried to set that faith aside and it didn’t work. This is how my friend describes owning his own faith.
He grew up in a Christian family, with lots of Christian influences, and always remembers having a relationship with Christ.
But in college, he tried to set aside that part of his life and his life became a mess.
He saw the descent that he was making and put a stop to it. He evaluated that experience and decided that life with Christ is much better.
His journey story is one of casting faith aside for a while and then evaluating his re-ownership.
One key story ingredient to include
A good story would also share your process or the mechanics of how you became a Christian. What did you do (the mechanics)?
- Pray to receive Jesus?
- Make a commitment?
- Answer an altar call?
- Pray in the middle of the night?
I’ve encountered lots of people that want to know what they need to do.
How does one surrender a life to Jesus?
Coaching Corner: Look for Openings
Action 1: If you haven’t done so already, set aside a few moments to think back to how you became a Christian or owned your own faith. Spend some time journaling your story so that you can get very familiar with it.
The goal is not to tell every aspect of your story every time. Rather the goal is to get familiar with it so that you can share the appropriate details at the right time.
Action 2: Ask permission of a non-Christian friend to listen to your story. Ask them what they didn’t understand so that you know where you need to clarify. They may point out some holes that you need to fill in.
Action 3: Ask God to give you opportunities to tell your story, and look for openings.
For example, your friends may say that there’s something different about you or even ask you why you’re such a “religious” person. Such situations are windows of opportunity to tell your story of how you became a follower of Christ.
- 8 Steps to Use Your Personal Testimony
- The power of personal testimony
- Personal Evangelism Testimony Questionnaire