One of the most effective tools in your evangelistic toolbox is YOUR PERSONAL STORY! It is often called your testimony! Everyone who has put their faith in Jesus has a testimony. True some are more dramatic then others but every story is valid, including YOURS!
Think back to the woman at the well…her story… married & divorced 5 times… a woman with a reputation!!! After her conversation with Jesus…she believed in Him & immediately went out & began to tell others! I’m sure everyone knew her story & they could see the radical transformation that had taken place after her encounter with Jesus. Her testimony was powerful! John 4:39, And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
A person can argue all day with you about certain fact! But they cannot argue with your personal story of how you came to faith. Using your testimony is as a bridge is very effective because it helps to find that common ground with the person you are speaking with. They may be surprised that you were not always the way you are now! That you did not always believe what you do now! I have a tattoo on my shoulder and any are surprised when they see it and consequently it always a talking point for believers & non-believers!
You are showing them how & why you changed your direction in life-how & why you became a follower of Jesus! You may struggled with alcohol or drugs…immorality… addicted to anything or everything. Maybe you were successful but still remained empty! The main thing is just tell your story! Every testimony is valid because there is someone out there who is a lot like you!
Some might be moved & convinced after hearing a former criminal who came to Christ but not everyone can relate to that story! Might even dismiss it! Thinking I’M NOT THAT KIND OF PERSON! That kind of person needs Jesus but I don’t! They need to understand that everyone needs Jesus because everyone has sinned!
Even if you were raised in church & never went out & tasted all things that the world has to offer, that is still a testimony! Let me tell you your story without even knowing you…
You were in rebellion against God because of your sin…
You heard the gospel…
You believed in Jesus & turned from your sin…
He forgave you all of your sins & gave you a peace & purpose in life…
Now instead of going to hell, you are going to heaven…
Everyone of us can tell our story… You don’t have to be an expert in Theology.
Its worth noting that Paul often sued his personal testimony when he spoke. Though he was a brilliant communicator & extremely knowledgeable about Scripture.
He often started by telling his own story to build a bridge to his listeners.
Standing before king Agrippa… Acts 26:12-17, “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you,
Now that is a dramatic testimony! But then Paul gets to what it really means to be a Christian… Acts 26:17-18,I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
Tell your story as it unfolded, then transition to the message of what the gospel is!
Here are a few tips!
1. Accuracy is really important… so is truthfulness… I have noticed that some peoples testimony gets more dramatic with the passing of time! Perhaps they think that will make their story for appealing but if it is not truthful then it is counterproductive. Just tell the truth about your life! God doesn’t need your made up story! Just tell the truth about your past & present.
Another problem is making your past sound better then your present! I have heard
believers go on & on about the wild parties they attended then when they talk about
what happened when the y got saved, sounds like their life ENDED! What about the things that God has done for you!
2. Don’t boast about your work, boast his! I’ve heard people talk about the great sacrifices that they have made to follow Jesus! GET OVER YOURSELF!
Compared to what Jesus gave for you…that nothing!
Paul summed up his past this way… Phi 3:8, Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Now that’s perspective! Fact is Paul had a very impressive pedigree in his family line & training under the finest teachers of Israel! But he understood it all meant nothing without Christ-DUNG… thrown in the garbage!
What sacrifices did you give up? Ever present guilt… a deep emptiness… & a future separated from God in hell! Instead Jesus removed your guilt, filled the void & gave you the certainty of heave in as your home! You gave up nothing in comparison to what Christ gave up to save your soul! Make sure you emphasis that when sharing your story!
3. Its not about you…its about Him! Our story is a bridge not the destination! He point of telling your story is so you can share his story!
His love for humanity, his death on the cross, & is resurrection from the dead. Just give the big picture! & sum it up as Paul did before a Roman leader!
We don’t want people marveling over our story but over His-the sacrifice that Jesus made, the price He paid because of his great love for us! When the woman at the well told her story, she pointed to Jesus & the result. John 4:39, And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
As you tell your story, I pray something similar happens for you!