Command six in this WIN or Infant stage is on evangelism (click here for the overview chart). Here is a list of what we have covered up to this point…
- Invitation – Come and See (John 1:35-51)
- Salvation – Repent and Believe (Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 4:17, Luke 4:14b-15)
- Fear is a Barrier to Faith (Luke 12:4-12)
- Greed is a Barrier to Faith (Luke 12:13-21)
- Baptism is that First Step of Obedience (Matthew 28:19-20)
- Evangelism Comes from the Joy of Our New Found Faith (John 4:3-42)
If you intend to be effective in evangelism, you need to be clear on your personal testimony. Your testimony is the story of how you began your spiritual journey with Jesus. This is good old fashioned way to open the door for a presentation of the gospel.
Preparation is helpful because you want to express yourself well enough so the other person can understand. Choose the right words, the flow of your story, knowing how to begin, and how to wrap it up. Throughout the early church, God’s people have stood up in rivers, baptisteries, pools, and even hot tubs sharing their testimony of how Christ saved them.
Let’s look at John 4:29-30, 39-42, John 9:10-11, 25 and Revelation 12:11
Testimony of the Samaritan Woman (John 4:29-30): This woman trusted Jesus to be the Messiah and invited the men of the city to “come and see” for themselves; to consider Jesus’ words and works. Many trusted Jesus because of her testimony.
Testimony of the Man Born Blind (John 9:10-11, 25): The man did not have all the answers (John 9:12, 15, 17, 25, 35-36) and neither will we have all the answers to a skeptic’s questions, but one thing is undeniable, your life has been changed. They can deny your doctrine and question your beliefs or theology, but they can’t take away from you what Jesus has done in your life.
Testimony is a Weapon to Overcome Satanic Attack (Revelation 12:11): Not only is your testimony a tool to sharing Jesus with others, but it is a powerful weapon for spiritual warfare. When Satan (the adversary) accuses you of some sin you have already confessed (1 John 1:9), puts you on a guilt trip (Revelation 12:10), and places doubts in your mind concerning your salvation, you can revisit your testimony to be reminded that Christ has forgiven all of your sins (Colossians 1:13, 1 John 2:12).
Let’s look at Acts 26:1-29
Read the passage and focus on what Paul’s life was like before meeting Christ, his salvation experience (how he came to Christ), and his transformed life after coming to Christ.
- Before – Personal failure (Acts 26:2-11, 9:1-2, 22:3-5, 19-20)
- How – The Damascus Road experience (Acts 26:12-18, 9:3-18, 22:6-11)
- After – the benefits or fruit of salvation (Acts 26:19-29, 9:19b-22, 22:12-16)
Paul’s testimony was so clear that when King Agrippa heard it, he said, “in a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian?” (Acts 26:28).
Chronological Format: in the order it happened. You might use this if you came to Christ later in life and have some information to share prior to conversion.
Historical Overview / Flashback Format: you give an interesting and rapid overview of your life up to the present time. The overview takes the place of the “before” in your testimony. Then flash back to the spiritual dimension, going to the event bringing you faith in Christ. You might use this format if you came to Christ early in life and cannot remember much of your “sinful and lost life” prior to coming to Christ.
Let’s look at Galatians 1:13-14, 1 Timothy 1:13a, 15, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Paul’s Before Christ: Identify key words that describe Paul’s life and failures before coming to Christ.
Your Before Christ: Write it out! Look to God for help. Seek wisdom and insight on what to include. This requires authenticity. Name your past sins (without details, Ephesians 5:12) but don’t glory in your shame (Philippians 3:19). Don’t reminisce over pre-conversion achievements. Paul counted all that as loss in comparison with the knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:8). This part is not your hall of fame, but your hall of shame, your failures. Our past failures will keep us humble (1 Timothy 1:15).
Let’s look at Galatians 1:15 and 1 Timothy 1:13-14
Paul’s Moment of Salvation: Identify key words in these verses that describe Paul’s salvation.
Your Moment of Salvation: Describe the circumstance around your coming to Christ: where you were, what life was like, how God spoke to you, how did you become aware of your sin and guilt, what you actually did to trust Christ?
Let’s look at Galatians 1:15-24 and 1 Timothy 1:12
Paul’s After: Identify key words that describe the change in Paul since his conversion.
Your After: What are the changes in your life now that you have come to Christ? Freedom, how to cope with anger to tear up problem and not people, your desires, purpose, meaning in life, benefits of having eternal life?
- Design it for a non-Christian who doesn’t know the religious clichés, jargon, and theological terminology.
- Design it to share one on one or in a small group, casual, not formal. It should sound conversational.
- Design it to be a door opener rather than a convincing tool. Use “I” and “ME” rather than “YOU.” Share, don’t preach. While it has happened to you, perhaps they will want to explore Jesus further.
- Design it to be winsome, not offensive. Let the message of the cross be the only offensive thing in your testimony (1 Corinthians 1:23).
- Design it without too much reminiscing.
- Design it in a general way so that more people can identify with your story. Don’t use specific churches and denominations. Avoid using dates and ages. If you were saved at a very early age, say something like, “when I was growing up…”
- Design it to include some humor or human interest. When a person laughs it reduces tension.
- Design it to speak about Christ, not the church. Emphasize more faith than feelings. Be simple and direct as you describe what you did or what you prayed or what you said.
- Design it to be human and honest as you talk. Don’t promise that all their problems will end if they become a Christian. That is not true. The problems don’t go away but now they have the Great Problem Solver in their life.
- Design it to be warm and genuine. A smile breaks down more barriers than a hammer of cold, hard facts. Let your enthusiasm flow freely. It is hard to convince someone of the joy in Christ when our faces are like a prison warden. Be positive and encouraging and courteous. No one is arm-wrestled into the kingdom. Insults and put-downs turn people off.
A Graphic on Your Story:
[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]