I’ve been thinking recently about “the testimony” — your story of conversion.
Most of us have one and most of us have done exercises where we
- write it the testimony of our conversion,
- revise our testimony for clarity, and
- shorten our testimony to share it in 5 minutes or less.
When it comes to the part of telling your story, I often listen for:
“Do you have a faith worth sharing?”
Not Always Easy
In the evangelism training workshops I conduct, I often find that people have little practice and understanding of their own story of coming to faith in Christ.
Many don’t even know how to communicate their testimony.
When I ask them to tell me their story of how they found Jesus, I hear testimonies that are
- drifting without a direction and
- usually very weak.
The stories may be full of
- Jesus cliches (He’s the answer!),
- inspecific generalities, and
- maybe even over 20 years old (is God still relevant?).
Free Download to Develop Your Testimony
When I hear teaching on testimony telling, it’s often focused only on your conversion experience.
How you found Jesus, or How God saved you.
The journey to that point is often neglected.
Download this free testimony discovery tool (an 18-page questionaire for reflection) to help you discover key elements in your journey to faith.
Suggestions about your testimony
1. Avoid the pain, if it’s still there.
Sometimes the “helpful suggestions” for improving your testimony descend into navel gazing like
Some people such a tortured past that digging into what their life was before Christ is an exercise in self-torturing.
While they are growing in their healing, the wounds of their youth are still too painful. I’ve encountered people with such traumatic pasts that digging around these themes are just a painful exercise.
Developing your testimony doesn’t have to go that far, and doesn’t have to be that painful. Use your discretion in what you want to develop. If the emotional pain and scars have disappeared and you can talk about your past as a matter of fact, you may have reached a healthy space to share.
2. Avoid doctrinal framing
Other times, the “helpful suggestions” require us to frame our story to cover certian doctrinal points.
“I was 7, but lying to my parents. My sin of lying was sending me straight to hell, so I needed to accept Jesus into my heart to be forgiven. I changed and never lied again.”
That sounds so contrived.
Instead, talk about the conviction you felt, how you knew that it was wrong, and why you wanted to be different. You want a genuine story, not one that sounds contrived or unreal just to fit your doctrine.
I was 7 and it bothered me that I kept lying to my parents. . . I remembered hearing the Bible stories about the 10 commandments and realizing that I was breaking God’s law. I couldn’t help myself though. I knew God was not pleased, my parents were not pleased. I needed Jesus.
Maybe a better model of testimony is this: transformational stories.
Transformational stories occur all the time during our walk with the Lord.
These stories go beyond your conversion moment and into today.
Transformational stories show that God is relevant to us today and still at work.
After all, we are being transformed, by the renewal of our minds, and being transformed into the image of the one who created us.
That transformation is ongoing, and often reveals to us where God’s calling intersects our life.
Moments when we are redirected by God’s leading, when we are changed by an encounter with Christ, when a destructive habit or pattern of thinking is redeemed, or when an old wound is healed.
Transformational stories don’t fit our theological propositions. Stories are lived experience that communicate truth. Our theology interprets our stories, not determines them.
By moving to transformational stories, we have many more stories to tell. We are not limited to an experience of our conversion which could have been many years ago. I do have a faith worth sharing. I can joyfully share the good news of the sovereign love of God, because God is at work in my life NOW.
Let me ask you this:
Do you have a faith worth sharing?