Essentials of Discipleship - Seminar 15: Sharing Your Testimony
Last Sunday, Deacon Leow Wen Pin taught a session on sharing our testimonies. We learnt about how, as Christians, we can share our testimonies in a way that blesses others in the context of today's society and culture.
What is a testimony? A testimony is a personal account of a first encounter with God given to benefit others. A testimony, fundamentally, talks about God. But when deciding what to share, we should have in mind our listener, that is, the person we are seeking to care for. This is so that we can share something that ministers to the listener.
The sharing of our testimonies is always contextual. For example, if the testimony is shared with a non-believer, it may be directed at bringing that person to faith. On the other hand, of the listeners are primarily Christians, then the testimony may have a different purpose, for example, to encourage other Christians in their faith.
Certainly, our testimonies can have a strongly evangelistic purpose. Why should we share evangelistic testimonies? We should share our testimonies passionately as a means of spreading the Gospel, because the God of the Bible is passionate about reaching the lost (2 Peter 3:8-9).
Testimonies are good ways to contextualise the Gospel, by showing how the Gospel still applies today and is relevant to modern living. Stories are generally an excellent and powerful teaching tool. Evangelistic testimonies help us to communicate the Gospel effectively. Testimonies demonstrate that Christianity is more than abstract ideas, but is a concrete relationship with a real and living God.
Further, we are commanded to be God's witnesses to this world, where most people do not know Him (Acts 1:7-8, Isaiah 43:8-12). Sharing evangelistic testimonies is a good way to bear such witness in a way that listeners can, hopefully, understand and identify with easily.
When do we share our evangelistic testimonies? We do so when our testimonies will bless others. We have to share our testimonies in a way that is judicious and sensitive. For example, this means that we should not share our testimonies if doing so would be viewed as unwanted proselytising or when we do not have an existing, positive relationship with our listener.
How then do we share our evangelistic testimony? Very importantly, whenever we share our testimony, we must match it with a consistent lifestyle that is worthy of the Gospel. We should not share our testimony with our mouths if we do not also share it with our lives.
We should plan deliberately to share our testimonies. Scripture reminds us that we should be prepared to provide a clear reason to explain why we have submitted our lives to the Lordship of Christ and the hope we have in Him (1 Peter 3:14-16). Further, planning our testimonies helps us avoid being misdirected or emotionally manipulative. Certainly, we do not want to practice cunning or underhanded means to bring others to faith: we are proclaiming Christ (2 Corinthians 4:2-5). Further, planned testimonies tend to be more focused, more interesting, and therefore more effective.
The following is a five-step framework that Wen Pin suggested as a good way to craft your testimony:
- 1. Write down your personal story of conversion, how you came to faith. This story should be yours, and again, should be accurate and true (even if you feel tempted to embellish details to make your story more interesting or convincing).
- Prayerfully identify the big ideas about God's Gospel that emerge from your story. Identify those that will be meaningful and relevant to your listeners.
- Rewrite your story, breaking it down into three stages: pre-conversion, during conversation, and after conversion. (In particular, the pre-conversion stage should focus mainly on our own sinfulness, our internal brokenness, and bridges to what led to you rethinking your relationship with God. What was your 'crisis' moment, that thing that drove you to God and made you choose to follow Him? In this, you want to show your listener that he or she is likewise faced with a choice as to whether or not to follow God.)
- Shorten your story to less than 3 minutes, removing parts that are not related to the main theme, and changing language that would not be understood by a non-Christian. Such language can include terms commonly used by Christians such as "faith", "salvation", "sin" or even "church".
- Practice your testimony until you can share it naturally. (Generally, memorisation is not encouraged; instead, practice your testimony until you can share it in a way that is natural and smooth.)
If you would like the DS team to help you to revise and improve your testimony, in order that you can share it more effectively for God's glory, please feel free to email it to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. The team will then get in touch with you.
If you can, do make the time to view the video of this session on the church's website. The password to access the video can be obtained by writing to the above email address.
Today, 22 November 2015, there will not be any Discipleship Seminars session, as the church's Extraordinary General Meeting will be held today. Do join us next Sunday for the last session in the Essentials of Discipleship series.
The Discipleship Seminars Committee