The word testimony simply means a telling or declaration of something given as evidence. Our testimony is evidence for Jesus at work in our lives, a declaration of why we trust our eternity to him.
Here are some articles that are helpful in thinking through how and why tell your testimony.
Your testimony as evangelism
Sharing the gospel with your testimony
Some things to avoid
Making sure we talk about Jesus
I’ve sorted through a ton of wisdom out there to come up with these helpful top tips.
Your testimony is about Jesus. It can be easy to tell it as though it’s about us – after all we’re the one who is living it – but that skews what really happened.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – Eph 2:8
Don’t pretend life’s all perfect now. Yes, Jesus has changed you; yes, your place in God’s family is all sorted now but you still live in a fallen world with the temptation and the consequences of sin. You have the help to overcome your problems, not the absence of problems – that day is still to come.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Phil 3:12
Think through the themes. Sometimes you’ll be asked to stand up and tell your life story: mostly someone will ask you a specific question and you have a minute of conversation to reply relevantly. So write your story down and think about what themes there are (identity, control, lost and found, struggling etc.) so that you’ll know which bits of your testimony are your go to for certain questions and what will the person you’re talking to be able to identify with. Remember the themes need to come from your story; try not to shape what you say by which theme you want to cover.
I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 1 Cor 9:22
Make it personal AND abstract. This is easier to explain by way of example:
Friend: Why do you have to go to church?
Me: I don’t have to, I want to. (Abstract) The church is what God set up so that no Christian had to go through life on their own, there’s a place where they can be taught, loved, encouraged and do the same for others. (Personal) For me it was really helpful when moving to a whole new continent to know that their would be people here with whom I had the most important things in common, and it’s what helped me to settle to quickly. My church here felt like my family – maybe a week after we arrived.
Did you see how I did that? I explained the theology (a bit) and then I gave an example of how that has played out in my life.
Include the gospel. You’re probably going to want to use terms like forgiveness, sin, faith, inerrancy of scripture (kidding about that last one!) but don’t assume that the person you’re talking to means the same thing by them as you do. Explain them – with examples from your life – and use those explanations to draw a picture of the gospel. “I’m forgiven because as Jesus died on the cross he willingly took everytime I’d rejected him and was punished for it so I wouldn’t have to be.”
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15
Here’s Emma Scrivener giving her testimony as an example.
Hope you find that helpful; I find it helpful to remember that the Holy Spirit can use what I say regardless of how badly I put it.