We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
To be an effective witness of our Lord, we need to have a well-prepared testimony, and it needs to be written out. In writing out your testimony, you are seeking to show others who and what Christ is by your example and story. This is basically making a brief, spiritual, public declaration-in essence, a short autobiography of your journey with Christ in which you talk about what God has done in you and/or what He has been teaching you recently. Your testimony is like a baptism, as it is the outward sign of an inward work of Grace that Christ has done in you. It is proclaiming the reality and the symbol of Christ by your example and also with words.
Having a prepared testimony can be a fun, exciting way to share Christ with ease. The key is to be prepared so you are not governed by fears, but rather by the joy that is in you and a desire to pronounce it with your expressions and personality to someone else. If you are thinking that this is too scary, or you do not like to sell things, or you are worried about what others will say, don't fret. Realize that you are just sharing your life experiences and encounter with Christ just as you would share anything with another person, with the exception that this is much more vital, important, and has eternal ramifications. You can do it! Your Christian experience is your reality that you can share with someone else when the door opens to do that.
Your testimony will provide the example and proof of Christ's work in you that will be used to influence others. Your testimony is precious and it is authoritative, something that others cannot condemn even if they try, because it is an authentic story from your real, personal experiences. You are bearing evidence and reasons why you had that change and commitment in Christ. You are not presenting abstract theological ideas, but rather real, heartfelt, relevant life issues and facts that you know firsthand. This helps others relate to you and to the realities of what a Christian is. Your testimony will also help others know who and what Christ has done in terms with which they can identify and understand.
How do I do this? Making a testimony is easy, as you have already done it; all you need to do now is write it down. You can do this in a conversational style just as if you are talking to someone, because that is exactly what you do when you share it. You present what the Gospel is (what Christ has done), why the Gospel is important to you (what Christ has done in you), and how God has helped you, and then, how your life has changed for the better. Now, think about how you can tell this to others. Write out your testimony as a story. Keep it short, simple, vivid, and true. People love human-interest stories because they can identify with other people's journeys in life. It connects you with them. Allow your life to touch others through your personal story.
Here are some key points and questions to ask yourself to help you prepare your testimony. Pray, and ask our Lord to give you wisdom and direction. Your story is special and unique; God has given you the life you have for a purpose. He has brought you through life and the experiences you have faced for a reason. Now is the time for your life to be used to touch and encourage others for His glory. Your life-action-paced or boring and dull-has been relevant and thought provoking, so make sure your testimony is, too. What you may consider dull might be just what someone else needs to hear.
Remember, your audience is not Christian, and they may know nothing of Christian culture. Or, perhaps, Christians have abused them, so they may have a skewed view of Christ and Christians. Thus, keep your testimony short, to the point, and personal, and use short, simple phrases and everyday informal conversational language that people can understand. You should have two testimonies, a real short one that is one-half to one minute long, and one that is longer, two to four minutes long. If you do not have a good memory, write or outline it on a 3 X 5 index card. The three or four minute will be about 250 to 500 words at maximum, using the following four points:
1. Before: How and what were you like before becoming a Christian? Why did you need Christ and His Grace? This is where you explain what your life was like before you trusted Christ, and what you have tried that did not work. Include how you thought, how and why you were not content or happy, what your character, your temperament, and your behaviors were like, etc. Keep this section the shortest. Make sure you do not glorify how you were before.
2. Reasons: What prompted you to want to know about Jesus? What were the reasons you felt the need for Christ? Consider any event(s) that helped shape you such as a crisis, sin, feelings, people, and mentors, include examples, and Scripture that has influenced you. This is where you can share the Gospel message, that God loves you, and that although the reality of sin dictates that all of humanity has sinned and will be judged and condemned, the great news is that Christ has paid your penalty of death. Help them understand that they need to receive Christ too, and can respond to His free gift of Grace by turning from their sins and placing their trust in Jesus.
3. How: How did you come to trust in Christ? How did you place your trust in Christ? What took place concerning events, places, and people? What would your life be like if you had not accepted Christ as your Savior and made Him Lord of your life? It is best to quote at least one or two clear salvation verses, and no more than three, such as John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 5:13. Then, when they what to hear more, use the information in the following sections. Remember to feature Christ, and not yourself.
4. After: How are you different now that you have trusted in Christ? What has your life been like since? Concerning purpose, how has Christ made your life full, deep, and meaningful, and given you contentment, security, and the Spirit? What are the changes that took place? Be positive and encouraging, and never put other Christians or churches down or be condescending or angry!
Remember, your purpose is to share your experiences with Christ in a loving and caring, as well as in a convincing and convicting way so others can start to have an interest in wanting to know Him. To make your testimony more effective, make sure you practice with someone who can give you good, positive feedback. And, be willing to augment and refine it to improve it and to fit the situation. Make sure you do not do all of the talking, unless you are giving a public address. Listen to what the other person has to say, too. Keep in mind that some people may criticize you. Don't be fearful; that is between them and Christ. You know where you are going.
Transition your Testimony to Conversation
We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1:4
What you can also do is take your "short testimony" and use it to connect Christianity to a conversation you are having with someone. It is essential that you have first established some kind of rapport with them so you have earned the right to be heard. Then, you can take your everyday conversations and "small talk" and use them as a door opener to discuss Jesus. When any topic comes up such as family, work, school, current issues, news, a book, article, a TV show, a movie, a song, hobbies, past concerns, interests, etc., you can transition it to how Christ worked that issue out in your life or in the life of someone else. Be sensitive, appropriate, and most of all, a listener.
If you need an opener to start off a conversation you may say, "It seems to me that more people are starting to smoke, what do you think about that? Why does it seem to satisfy people, or does it? Would you like to hear what I have learned? Or, would you like to hear what has deeply satisfied me?" Then, talk about how Jesus fulfills your deepest needs.
If someone is sharing a current problem, you may say, "I hear what you are saying about your son; May I share what I found that helped me?" Then share how Christ worked in you and that situation.
Talk about your relationship with Christ and how He has met the deeper needs in your life. If you talk about past concerns, you can transition to what you have learned and how Christ made a difference. An example might be, "I used to have a real problem getting motivated by school/work. Now that I am a Christian I have more motivation to please Christ and do well." Or, "I used to struggle with my marriage and communication; with Christ I find that I can really love and respect my spouse more and show what real love is, so we are far better off now…. That was my story what is yours?"
You can add, "If you ever would like to hear more about my relationship with Christ, please let me know, I would love to share it and answer any questions you may have."
If someone is sharing a harsh struggle with you, such as an illness or a death in the family or that they are going through a tough time, patiently listen to them and then tell them how Christ helped you in a similar situation.
You may say, "I can really identify with what you are saying. This is what happened to me…. Or, "The concern you have, I also went through." Or, "I hear what you are saying; several years ago I found myself in your situation. This is what I did." Or, "I discovered that with Christ I …." Or, "A good friend of mine also went through that." Or, "This is what Christ did in his/her life."
How to Invite Someone to Come to Church or to a Church Event With You
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters… Isaiah 55:1
Remember to get as many people as possible to pray for the person, neighborhood, or area you want to evangelize. The more people involved and the more time spent in prayer, the more effective your efforts will be and more glory will be directed to our Lord.
1. Are you at a point now that you want to know what church is all about?
2. Would you like to know if church would be a fit for you, perhaps what you are looking for?
3. I would like to invite you to my church/event; may I take a couple of minutes to tell you what it is about?
4. I would love to help you understand why I go to church, and what it is and is not all about. Would you like to get together and discuss our basic beliefs?
5. Would you like to come to my church?
After you have brought a friend to your church or a Christian event, then ask:
1 What did you think of my church?
2 Did you feel welcome?
3 Did it make sense to you?
4 Do you have any questions about it?
5 Would you like to know more about the wonderful discovery of knowing God personally?
These questions need to be put in your own words so they match your conversational style and do not sound canned or rehearsed. So, feel free to modify them to fit your needs and culture. Do not be discouraged if the person does not want to answer or if they are not interested; move on. Keep the peace and friendship and pray for another opportunity. Research from Campus Crusade says that, it takes eight encounters with Christian witnessing before a person receives the Lord. This just may not be the time.
© 2006, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org