Stories are powerful. True stories even more so. A firsthand personal account is unparalleled in its impact in our society.
John 9 records a fascinating story about a man who was born blind. And if being blind was not enough his contemporaries would argue amongst themselves whether it was his sins or his parents' sins that caused his blindness.
Jesus meets the blind man and makes clay (with spit) and tells him to go wash in the pool of Siloam. The blind man obeys and comes back seeing! (John 9:7)
Naturally the neighbors and those who knew him began to wonder and he gladly shared his testimony.
Simple right! He just shared what Jesus did for him. The man did not need vast theological understanding, he only needed to tell the story of what Jesus did for him.
So, how can you share your personal testimony? It can be as simple as what we just read in John 9:11, or it can be a longer and more detailed.
You can already share your testimony, this blog post will help you do it better. The tips I will share with you will help your personal testimony be more impactful and intentional.
Always begin with prayer. If you are not sure which story to share, or if you think you don't have one, start a list of what God has done for you in your life. It could be things that happened recently or many years ago. Just start listing them in no particular order.
Once you are satisfied with your list, pick one to focus on for now.
Now that you have your story write a brief outline. This does not have to be detailed, it can be just bare bones. Prayerfully consider what God has done for you.
Where were you?
What was the problem?
How did God intervene?
Where are you now?
All you need at this point is a general idea of the main transitions in your story and a clear direction.
Prayer and the influence of the Holy Spirit is the ultimate key for a powerful testimony. However, there are are things you can do to improve your story and one of the main things you can do is have a clear main lesson.
There must be a point to the story, there must be a reason for you to share your testimony. Your listener is giving you her time, do no waste it. Your personal testimony should teach your listener something about God.
What does your testimony teach your listener?
What should your listener take away from your story?
What will your listener learn about God?
Why are you sharing your testimony, what message do you want to get across?
This message, this main lesson, will shape all other aspects of your personal testimony. This is what you want your listener to remember.
Now that you identified your main lesson you are ready to go back to your outline and start filling in the details.
How did you feel at first?
Where were you? Where did the story take place?
What happened? What did you do?
What did you notice God doing?
How did you feel afterwards? How do you feel now?
Describe your feelings and emotions, describe locations and actions. You want your listener to experience your story. Describe sights, sounds, smells, actions and emotions. You want to address the senses, immerse your listener into your story. Dates and time can also help effectively convey what God has done in your life.
Remember your main lesson? Do not allow anything to distract you or your listener from it. All the details you just added must contribute to your main point in a meaningful way. Other events that do not somehow connect to your main lesson have no place in your testimony. Random events will only make the story long and confusing. A funny turn of events, if unrelated to your main point, should not be mentioned, it would only be a distraction.
The key to a powerful testimony (aside from the influence of the Holy Spirit) is keeping it focused and intentional. Every detail you add to your story must point to and contribute to your main lesson. Your details are important so long as they are relevant to the main lesson of your story.
Select a Bible Verse
What Bible verse goes with your story?
What biblical principle does your story illustrate?
Which Bible verse does your story bring to life?
What makes your story a testimony is the power of God at work in your life. Make sure to connect your listener to the word of God and to give God all the glory and honor.
Introduction and Conclusion
Your listener will decide whether or not to pay attention to what you are saying early on. How you begin your story is key to grabbing her attention. How you begin your testimony is very important. Remember to keep the main lesson in mind as you craft your introduction. Many chose to begin at a low point int heir lives, then explain how things got to that point, and then take the listener on a journey. This can be quite effective. But do not limit yourself to this, just make sure your introduction is interesting, feel free to cater it to your audience, and make sure to keep your main lesson in mind.
Even more important is your conclusion. A great story can be undone by a weak conclusion. On the other hand, a weak story can have a significant impact with a clear conclusion and application. The conclusion is your last chance to drive home your main idea, it is your last chance to make your point. Your last chance to make sure your listener learns what you want her to learn about God. Feel free to end your story with a challenge, a call to action, or even a question. You want to impact the life of your listener for God.
Practice and Pray
Now its time to practice telling your story. Practice sharing your testimony. Practice it by yourself, practice it with someone you already know and are comfortable with. Try different ways to start your testimony, try different ways to tell the story, try different conclusions and calls to action.
Practicing sharing your testimony is also a great way to have an idea of how long it takes for you to share it. Once you know how long it takes, you are better able to manage your time and decided what details to leave in, and which ones to take out depending on how much time you have available.
Finally, do not neglect prayer. The Holy Spirit can take your story and use it to touch another life, to give hope, to encourage, and to challenge. The Holy Spirit can inspire you with just the right approach to sharing your testimony.
As you practice, pray for God to guide you in the whole process, as well as to the right person and the right time to share. When you are willing, and when you are prepared, the Holy Spirit can do even more through you.