Yesterday I posted the outline of Paul’s story as found in Acts 22:1-21. Today I want to share some simple tips to help you write your personal testimony in a clear way. First, magnify Christ, not sin. Years ago when I served in St. Louis we had an itinerant evangelist come share his story in our church. His name was Rick Stanley, and his claim to fame was that he was the step brother of Elvis Presley. For over 30 minutes our guest described his personal experience with the decadence of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” to our wide-eyed congregation. His conclusion was that he came to Christ and began traveling across America sharing his story about life with Elvis. He had traded life with the “king” for a new life with the “King of Kings.” While his story was certainly powerful and compelling, Rick did what many do who have experienced a colorful past: he magnified his sin. Your story may be colorful in its own right, and certainly that does provide the context for the change that Christ brings. But if you choose to share that in your story, don’t glorify it; glorify Christ!
Second, use everyday language. I have a friend named Dave Bennett who once described to me his frustration with Christians who use “insider language” when they communicate their faith. Take for example the simple phrase, “I asked Jesus to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior.” For those in faith, that communicates. For those who have not grown up in the culture of church, however, it doesn’t. Bennett told me he went to Webster’s Dictionary and looked up the words in that common phrase. He discovered that according to Webster’s, Jesus was a religious leader who lived in history 2,000 years ago; that the heart was the muscle in the center of your chest that pumps blood to the rest of the body; that a lord was a feudal castle owner; and that a savior was a person who rescued you from a situation of danger. Bennett argued that when we say “I asked Jesus to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior,” people might actually hear us say, “I asked a religious leader who lived in history 2,000 years ago to come into the muscle in the center of my chest that pumps blood to the rest of my body to be my feudal castle owner and rescuer from situations of danger.” Ok, you get the point. Use everyday language as you think about how you will communicate your faith. Don’t assume that everyone you talk to has knowledge of church culture.
Next, be brief. If you’ve been to a management or a leadership seminar you’ve probably heard people talk about giving the “elevator pitch.” In other words, it’s important to have your story so concise you can share it in the length of time it takes to ride the elevator with a potential client. There’s something about being brief that helps us stay on point and communicate effectively. Sometimes less is more.
Fourth, be yourself. Don’t try to be anyone else. God made you to be you, so be yourself. Resist the temptation to borrow elements from someone else’s story. When we try to be someone or something we’re not, we diminish the authenticity of our testimony.
Once you have written your story, commit it to memory. Learn it “by heart,” as they say. Then look for opportunities to share it. They say that as many as 95% of American Christians have never shared their faith. One of the reasons why is that we aren’t prepared. God can’t use what you haven’t prepared to, but if you’ll take the time to write and memorize your own story, God will meet your preparation with opportunities to share it.