There’s no doubt that testimonies can be a great way of sharing our hope in Jesus. Sadly, when many of us share the story of God’s work in our lives, we fail to make the most of the opportunity.
At one extreme, we see the opportunity to share our testimony as an opportunity to preach. I’ve lost count of the number of times Christians have crow-barred gospel outlines into their outlines (“it was at that moment I was convicted of my sin, I realised I was under God’s wrath…”). Not only is this usually not entirely truthful – as that’s probably not how it seemed at the time – it also causes many non-believers to switch off. What had started as an engaging story now becomes a series of theological bullet points which don’t seem to bring any transformation in the present day.
At the other end are the testimonies in which Jesus is barely mentioned (if at all) or where there is a flood of information that is unique to the speaker. Again, this testimony falls short and the speaker can unwittingly make themselves the real hero.
A number of influences have caused me to think that there’s a better way. We really can tell our stories engagingly, truthfully and with connection points to your hearers. We can also show that walking with Jesus continues to be a dynamic relationship today.
Here’s an outline I have slightly adapted from Sam Chan’s Unawkwarding Jesus programme, used in Australia. I think it probably owes a lot to the influence of folks like Tim Keller and Dan Strange, who’ve emphasised that Jesus satisfies our deep desires better than any idol can, but in the way we’d least imagine. See what you think!
- INTRODUCTION. Growing up, or before you were a Christian, what did you think would make you happy in life? What drove you? Use a couple of real life concrete examples that illustrate this from that time.
- BODY. How did the drive towards this goal prove unsatisfied or unsatisfying? If you got what you wanted, how did it fail to deliver? Again, use a couple of real life concrete examples to back up your abstract statements.
- BRIDGE. How have the death and resurrection of Jesus challenged your perspective on what will make you happy or satisfy your desires? Tell the story of the moments in which you came to realise this (this may or may include your point of conversion). How did this insight on the cross and resurrection surprise you?
- CONCLUSION. How has Jesus changed your thinking and actions in this area today? Give a couple of practical examples. How does the way you know God sees you in Christ make you feel now? What difference does this make day to day? How would you like it to make more of a difference in this area?