Tips for Developing a Short (3-5 minutes) Gospel Testimony
Tell your story
People want to know about people. Your personal story can reach people in ways that pure doctrine simply cannot. There are many ways you can share your story, and many stories of yours to share. For example, you may want to follow this three-point outline:
- Life before knowing Christ
- How you came to receive Christ
- Life after you received Christ
But at the same time, don’t limit yourself to this format! Share any story or specific incident that reveals something of your personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ that someone else can relate to.
Write it down
Giving your testimony is not as easy as you might think. Writing it down ahead of time works to prevent rambling and a lack of focus due to nervousness when speaking your testimony. Writing it also helps develop a focused, methodical story. And so far as timing goes, 120-130 words (1/2 page) equals about a one-minute testimony.
It’s good to have a consistent angle or theme (e.g., working through alcoholism, loneliness, condemnation, etc.). Try to find a good balance between giving good, pertinent details about your story while at the same time not getting lost in them. You might find it effective to work out individually the who, what, when, where, and why of your story; keep in mind that the chronological order might not be the best order. Stay away from talking too much about how bad you used to be–we all are sinners! Keep your language also as simple and direct as possible, so that it’s easy to understand.
By adding details and allowing a listener to visualize your story, it becomes more real and personal. Try to take abstract truths (e.g., “God is all-powerful”) and make them real through examples (e.g., “I saw God’s sovereign power in my life through . . .”). If at all possible, use pictures of places or people to make your story all the more real to your audience.
Make it accessible
Although at first obvious, it is easy to forget when sharing a testimony that you are sharing with non-Christians.
- Consider their point of view; for example, they don’t know God personally through Jesus Christ, they might not care or know what it means to be brought up in a Christian home (or not), or they may not consider the Bible to be authoritative.
- Avoid Christian jargon; stay away from words that have special meaning for church-goers, but that an unbeliever might not understand: “lost, saved, born again, sanctified, salvation,” etc. If you must use words specific to the Christian faith, be sure to carefully explain them.
- Don’t take anything for granted—unless you know otherwise, always assume the person you’re talking to has no knowledge of the Gospel. At the same time, show them respect as an intelligent human being with their own beliefs and understanding.
- Keep in mind the culture to which you will be communicating. Avoid using American slang or cultural icons that will be irrelevant or misunderstood by people from other cultural backgrounds.
Connect With Your Audience
The more someone can relate to your story, the more effective it will be. Therefore, don’t be afraid to share some of your deeper feelings. If someone can place themselves in your shoes and see your heart–or their own heart in your experiences–then they can better understand not only where you’re coming from, but also the relationship with God that you’re trying to share.
This is the best way to fine-tune your testimony. Write it out, commit it to memory, and then share it with your friends or family. Ideally, try to find a non-Christian to listen to your testimony and give you their perspective on it; in this way it also becomes an evangelism tool.
Questions? Need additional equipping? Contact us!