A gospel-centered testimony can be a powerful way to share the good news of Jesus Christ with your nonChristians friends (or with complete strangers, as opportunity arises). Over the last decade I’ve heard some people talk about testimony-sharing as “the key” to good evangelism while others decry testimonies as man-centered rather than God-centered.
What is a Testimony?
Your testimony isn’t your autobiography. It isn’t your life-story or an opportunity to talk about the details of your sinful life before Jesus in order to gain “street cred” with nonChristians.
The word “testimony” comes from the same root word as “martyr.” To be a martyr is to testify and tell about what God has done through Jesus Christ. It isn’t first about you, it is about God. When you share your testimony, you are talking about what God has done and what God has done for you. It is both objective (who God is and what He’s done) and subjective/personal (what he’s done for you). Unfortunately, I’ve heard many testimonies that only emphasize the subjective (what God has done for them).
A testimony that isn’t about Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, and the freedom that comes through confession of sin and repentance isn’t a gospel-centered testimony.
How to Share Your Testimony
Here are a few things I have noticed about gospel-centered testimonies that put God front-and-center.
- Share your life, but focus on God. A testimony is personal. It’s not a lecture or a sermon. If you aren’t willing to make yourself a bit vulnerable, then how can the power of God’s transformative grace shine? Don’t fall into the trap of talking about yourself 95% of the time and then tacking on a little Jesus at the end.
- Tell how God has rescued in a way that doesn’t glorify your sin. Share enough about your life that we can understand and begin to identify with your need for a Rescuer. I’ve heard people talk about their sinful ways as if they almost missed those “good old days.”
- When or How did you understand and believe the gospel? Who told you about the good news of Jesus Christ? Who shared with you the message of grace and forgiveness? Use their words in order to articulate the gospel for the person you’re talking with (that way they’re actually hearing the gospel as you’re telling your testimony). What were your initial thoughts, objections, or feelings when you heard the gospel?
- How has the grace of God changed your life? What difference has God made in your life since you confessed your sin, professed faith in the gospel, and repented of your sin? You don’t need to lie and make the Christian life seem easy (it’s not!) or like God takes all your problems away (he doesn’t). What have you learned about God that has changed you? Share a Bible verse that has been meaningful in your faith development.
(note: the bolded sections above are what’s essential. The rest is all given to explain different ways to accomplish what is in bold… if you try to do everything above at once then you’ll be biting off more than you can probably chew.)
A Biblical Example: Apostle Paul
Acts 26 shows the Apostle Paul on trial before King Agrippa where he shares his testimony. He clearly articulates his life before he encountered Christ, explains how he became a Christian, and what difference that’s made in him. He also tells his testimony as a means for gospel-proclamation. Paul’s example is a faithful guide in how to tell our story in a way that Jesus is the hero.
If you have other tips and advice on how to craft your testimony, please feel free to share below in the comment section.