We are called to take the spiritual initiative and be productive. Does God need to stir you up? Are you spiritually lazy or apathetic? Do your Christian activities line up to His revealed truth, or are they based on your plans and agenda? Has your life been transformed? Are you being fed from His Word? Then, you have testimony. Perhaps, as with me, fear has its grip upon you. Always be willing to give an answer for His Truth and His work in you! True Christianity and its practice will never retire or become counter-productive (Matt. 28)!
It is natural for us to be fearful when we are about to speak to strangers or give a public address. In fact, public speaking is considered the number one fear of people-even over heights, flying, lightening, and being eaten by sharks! Thus, we will experience fear in this, but God calls us to fear not (Isa. 41:10; 43:1-5). The question for us is, how will we handle it? We can trust in Christ and allow Him to overcome our fears as we put faith and confidence in His work in us. It is about receiving His work in us and then responding to it. The more we develop our spiritual formation in Christ, the stronger we will be in controlling our fears (Isa. 40:30-31; Matt. 17:20; John 17:18; Rom. 4:20-21; Heb. 11:1).
We need to allow Jesus to touch us, so our faith comes alive and our testimony becomes evident to those around us. Our most important demonstration of Christ in our lives is our character and His Fruit flowing from us, because sometimes, we need to answer a question or say what our faith is all about in few words. If Christ is Lord over us, then our confidence should be in Him, not in the fears of how we may come across to others. Our Christian life is about glorifying Him, not lingering in our fears. Does God have to get you away from the crowd so He can meet your needs?
I believe the key to overcoming our fears is to realize the power we have in Christ. We are to pay attention to Him and not to how a person may react or even ignore us (2 Peter 1:12-21). We overcome our fears when we see Christ for who He is-Glorious. He is a fact in history and in our lives as Believers. We are established by His Truth, and we must let our words show this! Christ is setting you up for a legacy. We do not stand alone. We have a testimony because we have His Spirit and the information and power He gives that can help fuel more confidence and hope. We do not stand alone. We are connected with others and Christ's real Truth. We have even more than the Apostles, because we have what they had-a witness of what Christ has done for us, the Law, the testimony of the Prophets, and most importantly, the Spirit-plus the completed cannon of God's most precious Word and countess Christian resources! Thus, we do not need to have seen Jesus personally to have the same confidence that Peter and Paul had, nor do we need the gift of evangelism or an "over the top" story. All we need is Christ and to be a record of His work. This means when we are in Christ, we have solid proof that no argument or human reason can stand against, unlike the seductive conjecture and pseudo-experiences of the ways of the world.
Peter had seen the glorious, majestic splendor of Jesus firsthand, and he had heard the very voice of God. He had even replicated some of Jesus' miracles. Many say that Peter's confidence came from directly seeing Christ firsthand, but that the full impact did not occur until after Jesus left them bodily and sent His Spirit. We have the same access that Peter and Paul had to the confidence and power that Christ provides.
Have you ever wondered about situations you faced with faith and confidence in the past but now, somehow, you have misplaced that confidence or knowledge? Perhaps you once stood firm in your faith in Christ, but the busyness and stresses of life have distracted you. Or, perhaps you have started to believe in teachings that tingle your interests and emotions, but you are not sure that you have something to say. Remember the significance and relevance of Christ. We all need reminders from people in our lives who are mentors and good examples, and we need to be on guard against those who seek to derail us from His Word and Truth.
Perhaps you do not fear, but you feel that your efforts are fruitless. Being faithful does not always means having results. We are all called to be the bright light, as a reflection of His Light shining in us. We are to realize our place and, with humility, that He chooses to use our weak verbiage to enthuse and equip others to apply His precepts and call! God is the deliverer; we are the receivers. We are to receive in humbleness His work in us and, in turn, let others know about it. God's transformation does not come from us, nor does He need our words, but He is brought into us by the Holy Spirit, and then proclaimed by us.
In Second Peter, we are called to make every effort. This indicates to "pay close attention to Him." Peter's passion and purpose was not to have a life of laziness or leisure, but to be fervent in proclaiming Christ and His Gospel. The questions for us are what are we doing with this precept? And, how are our efforts going? We have a purpose. The results are not as important as is our obedience to follow and practice His call. Our lives are short, and we must take the initiative to do what we can, here and now, with what Christ has given to us. We are called to work hard, efficiently, and with meaning concerning His Truth (John 21:18-19; 2 Peter 1: 12-21).
Our growth in Christ has value, as it is the substance for our testimony! Real, impacting, growing faith requires our diligence. Thus, we are asked to keep "burning" in Him, to rekindle our Christian growth as an ongoing effort. If our faith starts to slack, we are to apply His Truth so our hearts become centered upon Him so we can grow in Him. What He is doing in us is the "advertisement" for His Kingdom. Just think what is going on in your life that can touch someone else around you. How are you applying self-control, patience, endurance, godliness, and love? Ask God how those around you would be affected by what He is teaching you (2 Pet. 1: 5-11). Then, you can see His work, and His purpose in you can be augmented by your putting a few words to it. Don't fear failure; the only true failure is when we do not obey God's will, as it will cause us to lose out on so much in life and in eternity. Our diligence to remain faithful and obedient with virtue will enable others to do so also. When we obey God, He will reward us beyond our ability to fathom!
What is Involved in a Testimony?
Having a prepared testimony can result in 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 to others with your expressions and personality. If you are thinking that this is too scary, that you do not like to sell things, or if you are worried about what others will say, don't fret. Realize that you are 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 and 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 as it is authoritative, and something that others cannot condemn even if they try, because it is an authentic story from your real, personal experience. You are bearing evidence and reasons why you had a change and commitment to Christ. You are not presenting abstract theological ideas, but rather real, heartfelt, relevant life issues and facts that you know and have experienced firsthand. This helps others relate to you and to the realities of what a Christian is. Your testimony will also help others know who Christ is and what He has done in terms they can identify and understand.
How do you do this? Composing a testimony is easy, as you have already lived 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 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 in Christ to touch others through your personal story.
To help you understand this process, Paul gives his testimony in Acts 22:1-16 and 26:9-23. This is a prime, biblical example of how you can do yours and that it can be short and to the point, too. Paul lays out a simple, four-point plan that can be effectively used by anyone in any culture or time. It is based on four points: (1) what I was like before Christ, (2) how I realized my need for Christ, (3) how I received Christ, and (4) how my life is meaningful now that I am in Christ.
What Do I say?
Below is a testimony outline with questions to ask yourself, along with suggestions on how to make a great testimony of God working in you. Included are some key points and questions you can ask yourself to help you prepare your testimony. Look over each of these categories and make your own outline by answering the four main questions. Then look over the rest of the suggestions and questions and identify which ones are pertinent to your story and timing. Keep in mind that the first point is the shortest and the third point the longest. Then, you can add to it from the ideas. Also keep in mind that not all of the suggestions will be needed or applied.
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. The things you have been through-good or bad-are never a waste, especially when you share them to help someone else through, too. 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. 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 your testimony on a 3 X 5 index card. The three- or four-minute one will be about 250 to 500 words max, 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 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.
· Why did you need Christ and His Grace? Use some things such as feeling empty, fear, no meaning to life, something missing, no real friends, lack of purpose, no real motivation, lack of peace, loneliness, guilt, despair, searching for self worth, drugs, desire to be in control, broken home, etc.
· You can also explain that chasing other things-such as work, money, education, sports, hobbies, entertainment, social life, sex, politics, dealing with a tragedy, or obligations-did not fulfill or satisfy you.
· Never glorify your previous sins or lifestyle, or say that what you gave up is better, because it is not.
· Breathe and relax. Make eye contact. Speak clearly and slowly.
· Don't be boring, critical, or preach at people. Never put down or criticize other churches, denominations, or representative Christian personalities (even the wacky ones). Rather, just speak calmly and share about the value of being In Christ.
· Tell the truth, don't exaggerate, and never make things up to produce a better sounding testimony. God will use the "real" you more than the "fake" you!
· Be enthusiastic and show His care. It is important that you come across as really believing in what you are saying, because you believe and trust in Christ.
· Smile often; this shows you care and that Jesus makes you feel good.
· Try not to be too fidgety or make noise. Be aware of poor posture or nervous habits. Distracting gestures or too many hand movements divert people's attention from your message.
· God honors preparation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
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 crises, sin, feelings, people and/or mentors, and include examples and Scriptures that have 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 the penalty of death. Help your audience 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.
· Share the Gospel message that God loves you, the reality of sin that all of humanity has sinned and will be judged and condemned, and the great news that Christ has paid our penalty of death. Emphasize that others need to receive Christ, and can respond to His free gift of grace by turning from their sins and placing their trust in Jesus.
· Share how you realized that you needed Jesus.
· Emphasize Christ's work in you, not the bad you have done prior to salvation. Your job is not a drama presentation; it is to present Christ and your victory in Him.
· Highlight the point or person that made the difference by showing you who Christ is.
· Bring Christ into your story by making the Bible the authority, not just your story.
· If you grew up in a Christian home, share when Christ started to be real for you and when your faith became personal and real, not just a part of your family.
· Remember, your purpose is to share your experiences with Christ in a loving, caring, as well as in a convincing and convicting way so others can start to have an interest in wanting to know Him.
· Pause for emphasis so the people can absorb what you have said.
· Be sensitive, clear, and simple. Also, be sensitive to the audience's culture and experiences.
· Remember to feature Christ, and not yourself.
3. How: How did you come to faith in Christ? How did you place your trust in Christ? This is where you explain how your Christian experience and faith occurred.
· How did you receive Christ? What took place including events, places, and people?
· Why did you need Jesus to make your life full and meaningful?
· What would your life be like if you had not accepted Christ as your Savior and/or made Him Lord of your life?
· Be very careful how you use humor. Never condescend or make fun of others!
· Recount any misconceptions about Christianity you once had, such as how you saw Christians before your conversion versus how you see them now.
· Do not make audacious statements, such as Christ will heal you or God told me to tell you. This removes any credibility. If God makes a move, He does not need you to say so!
· Don't tear down or use negative remarks. Be positive!
· Remember, the gospel of our Lord is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Rely on His Word and the Holy Spirit, not your words.
· Remember, do not "oversell" Him. Allow Him to use you. It is the Spirit that sells!
· It is best to quote at least one or two clear salvation verses (no more than three), such as John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 John 5:13. Then, when people want to hear more, use the information in the following sections. Remember to feature Christ, and not you.
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, never be condescending, and never be angry!
1. What has Jesus meant to you personally? What has Christ meant to you in your daily life?
2. How does Jesus make your life full, deep, and meaningful now?
3. Remember, you are a work in progress; make sure your audience knows that!
4. What are the changes that took place in your life after you received Christ?
5. What has God's faithfulness to you meant in your life and to your family?
6. Don't use Christian "jargon." Words such as born again, sacrificed, saved, glorious, lost, washed in the blood, convicted, Amen, halleluiah, or converted do not mean anything to most non-Christians.
7. Don't let your testimony become a nuisance by going on and on. Short and simple really is the best. Don't keep talking just to talk.
8. Don't brag about yourself or put down other Christians, churches, or come across in any a derogatory, critical, or negative way.
9. Remember, don't oversell yourself or Christ (He does not need to be sold!) or be sensational in any way. This is only distracting and removes credibility.
10. Be real and honest. Share that becoming a Christian may not solve all problems or cause us to be healed; life can still be a struggle. However, with Christ, we have the strength and empowerment of the Spirit to persevere successfully.
11. Don't make statements that may not be true, such as, "When you become a Christian, all of your problems will be solved."
12. Here is where you lay out the positive benefits that you have experienced. What has________ meant to you? Insert one or two of, Your relationship with Christ, God's love, Grace, God's forgiveness, freedom from fear, a better perspective of life, having a purpose, dealing with difficult people, dealing with stress, overcoming tragedies, having God's counsel, honest living, a place of belonging, peace of mind, no fear of death, eternal security, forgiving others, fulfillment, significance, the impact of God's Word, understanding others, fellowship of other Christians, strength, or the Fruit of the Spirit in your life.
13. Be positive and encouraging, never condescending or angry!
14. Make sure you convey the assurance that you have in Christ and in eternal life.
After you have practiced and used your testimony, seek how you can improve it.
We need to let the Word of our Lord touch and remind us that our speech reflects upon the God we serve! Everything we do as a child of God must be done with integrity, truthfulness, and honesty, as we are not only representing Him, but also He is living in us! Jesus calls us to be true to our word as a testimony of our faith in Him. We are not to be worldly with our words or integrity, or drag or defile His good name with feeble, easily retracted words.
Remember, your purpose is to share your experience with Christ in a loving, 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 your testimony to improve it and make it 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. 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
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
You can also take your "short testimony" and use it to connect Christianity to a conversation you are having with someone. It is essential that you first establish some kind of rapport with them so you will have earned the right to be heard. Then, you can take your everyday conversations and "small talk" and use them as door openers 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 from it to how Christ worked that issue out in your life or in the life of someone else you know. Be sensitive, appropriate, and most of all, a listener.
If you have an opening 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 have found to help me?" Then share how Christ worked in you and your 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 the conversation to what you have learned and how Christ made the 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 him/her 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 with you and answer any questions you may have."
If someone is sharing a harsh struggle with you, such as an illness, a death in the family, or a tough time they are going through, patiently listen to them, then tell them how Christ helped you in a similar situation. (Remember, you have two ears and one mouth for a reason!)
You may say, "I can really identify with what you are saying. This is what happened to me." Or, "I also went through this concern you have." Or, "I hear what you are saying. Several years ago, I found myself in your situation. This is what I did." Or, "I have discovered that with Christ I …." Or, "A good friend of mine also went through that. This is what Christ did in his/her life." If you do not identify with them, you really do not understand, or you have not been through what they have, do not lie or try to make up something. Refer them to someone else who has been there. Just listen, share from the Word (A "Bible Promise" book can give you the passages, as can our devotional channel), and share what the Spirit puts in your heart.
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.
Further Bible Help:
1. Scriptures on Being Prepared: John 15:4-8; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-25; 1 John 4:7-21
2. The Importance of Using the Scriptures: Mark 6:2; John 3:10; Colossians 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:16
3. Scriptures on the Importance of Prayer: Matthew 6: 5-15; 7: 7-12; Luke 3:21; 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28; 11:1; 23:46; John 15:4-5; Romans 8: 18-30; James 5:13-18
4. Scriptures on Being Usable: Isaiah 6:8; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 2 Peter 1:4
5. Scriptures on Philip's model, Philip Knew and Trusted In God: Proverbs 21:3; Matthew 12:33; Mark 1:35; Acts 8:12, 26-40; 1 Corinthians 3:6' Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:2, 14; 1 Timothy 6. 14-16
6. Scriptures on the Importance of Good Character: Acts 6:3-5; Galatians 5: 16-26; Colossians 3:12-15; 1 John 2:26-29
7. Scriptures on How To Share Your Faith: John 1:1-14; 3:3-6; Acts 1:8; Romans 5:4-5; 8:14, 26-27; 1 Corinthians 12:3; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Galatians 4:6; 5:22-23; Hebrews 13:5-6
8. Scriptures on the Holy Spirit's Role: Psalm 1:2-3; Matthew 7:16-18; 12:35; Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Peter 3:8; 2 Peter 1:5-8
9. Scriptures on Personal Lifestyle Evangelism: Deuteronomy 6:6-7; 10:12; Leviticus 19:15-16; Acts 2:44-47; 8:26-38; 9:32-42; 21:37-22:21; Romans 12:11; 1 Corinthians 7:23-24; 2 Corinthians 2:4-7, 15-17; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:15-16; Colossians 1: 3-14; 2:6-7; 3:16; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:12, 2:16-17; 1 John 4: 7-16
10. Scriptures on the Importance of Building Authentic Relationships: Proverbs 15:30; Matthew 5:13-16; Mark 4:21-23; Acts 18:18; Romans 12:9; 1 Corinthians 7:23; 9:19-23; 2 Corinthians 2:14-17; 5:19-20; 13:1; Ephesians 4:20-24; 6:5-8; Colossians 3:5-17, 22-25, 28; 1 Peter 1:22; 3:2-3
11. What Else Can I Do? 1 Corinthians 1:27; 2:4-5
Questions to Ponder
1. How has your life been your witness? Are you confident that you know what to do and say to lead a person to Christ? Do you know where and how to start?
2. Are you a person who succeeds at building and continuing healthy relationships? If not, why not?
3. Have you been encouraging, non-confrontational, loving, kind, and gentle in your attempts to witness? How so? Why not?
4. Can you name five people whom you have not yet told about Christ, then commit to pray for them and pay attention for an opportunity to share? What is in your way from accomplishing this? How will you remove the obstruction?
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3
Some more passages to consider: Psalm 1:2-3; Proverbs 21:3; Isaiah 55:11; John 3:15-17; 6:44; 16:8; Acts 5:21; 22:1-16; 26:9-23; Romans 1:16; 10:17; 1 Corinthians 2:3-4; Ephesians 2:8-9; 4:15; 6:17; Philippians 2:13; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Philemon 6; James 1:5-6; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 1:3-4; 5:11-13
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Founder and Director of "Into Thy Word Ministries," a missions and discipling ministry. He is the author of several books including, Into Thy Word, and A Field Guide to Healthy Relationships. He is also a pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (M.Div.) and holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology in London, England (Ph.D). He has garnered over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant.
© 1983, 2006, R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Discipleship Tools www.discipleshiptools.org