Recently, a pastor asked me, “What’s working? What’s the new big thing in evangelism?”
Honestly, the question caught me off guard a little bit. I’ve trained people on how to use a dozen different evangelism methods over the years, but put on the spot, I couldn’t come up with anything I’ve heard of recently. No new fads came to mind; I felt a little bit like a failure. Here this man, a pastor whose church supports our ministry, came to me, a supposed ‘expert,’ for current information on what people are doing to share the gospel effectively, and I had nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Ugh! I’m not sure who left that conversation more disappointed.
The Best Kept Evangelism Secret
The next day, however, I had an epiphany. Or, more accurately, I came to my senses. Or perhaps the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear. Whatever the case may be, I realized that the best method for sharing the gospel is still the first method. The same method Paul used over and over again in the New Testament: his personal testimony.
Boom! Mic drop. There is nothing more personal, nothing more powerful, nothing more effective, connective, and immune to criticism than your own experience with Jesus Christ. I texted my pastor friend the next day to tell him what I had inexplicably forgotten. Here’s what I wrote:
“You asked me about evangelism the other day, and I said nothing is really working right now, but after thinking it over a bit, I have to take that back. What’s working today is the exact same thing that worked 2,000 years ago: personal testimony.
In a world obsessed with truth and awash in ‘fake news,’ the story of God’s work in your life is still powerful and effective.
Your testimony is a reminder to YOU of the truth of God in your life, and sometimes we need that nudge.
Your testimony is a witness to others of God’s work in the world, because we’re all part of the world.
Your testimony is incontrovertible. You, and only you, have the ability to say for sure what God has done in you for you. Others can deny it out of sheer willfulness, or point to ongoing flaws in your character, but you alone know the truth. Nothing can take that away, and the more we act like Christ, the more those criticisms ring hollow.
I think the hard part is earning the right to speak that truth to others. It takes longer to earn trust. Once that bridge has been established, however, I think a carefully and intentionally crafted testimony is still the best thing going.”
Read that last line again, especially the last part.
A carefully and intentionally crafted testimony is still the best thing going."There is nothing more personal, nothing more powerful, nothing more effective, connective and immune to criticism than your own experience with Jesus Christ." -Jon Smith #collegiatedisciplemaker #evangelismHow You Can Master the Best… Click To Tweet
How to Intentional Craft Your Personal Testimony
Carefully and intentionally crafted. That means taking time to think through your story. Know what you want to say, what the main point is, who the main character is (hint: it should be Jesus, not you), and how you want it to end, among other things.
I was taught years ago to keep it short—three minutes. Three minutes?! Three minutes. It’s a good target to start with. Once you master the details and delivery, you can lengthen and shorten it accordingly. Take your cue from the Apostle Paul. He shared different versions of his testimony all the time, but always for a purpose: furthering the gospel. It isn’t his story, it’s His story in Paul’s life.
The reason three minutes is a good place to start is because it’s hard. Expect to be challenged. You won’t be able to give all the details you want. Organization will be required. Here’s a quick little formula you can consider using:
- One minute to life before Christ, focusing on the development of the circumstances that drew you to a point of decision.
- One minute to the gospel, focusing on how you began your relationship with Jesus.
- One minute to what happened next, focusing on the changes in your life since you began walking with the Lord.
If you’re one of those who embraced faith when you were so young you can hardly remember life before Jesus, that’s great! Focus instead on a time of particular difficulty in life and explain how faith in Jesus made the difference. A Christian testimony is supposed to be about the work of God in your life, so don’t fret if that work bore fruit at an early age.
If you’re one of those who hasn’t yet had any real adversity in life, first, let me say that you should probably brace for impact. It’s coming. The time to prepare for the testing ahead is now (and, yes, the Bible literally promises that you’ll be tested). Second, as far as your testimony is concerned, you’re still on solid ground. Focus on what God has saved you from. Think about how walking with Christ and following in His footsteps has kept you on a path that isn’t littered with the tribulations you’ve seen others struggle with. Own that you’ve been blessed, but own that it is because of Jesus, not you, that you have that blessing.
Tips for Mastering Your Own Story
Here are a few further bits of advice to employ this best kept evangelism secret…
- Consider telling your story on paper first. Write it out (or type it, that works too). The process of committing it that way is amazingly helpful.
- Work on it with a mentor, someone you trust. Iron sharpens iron, right?
- Do it with a partner. There’s an old African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Go together with someone to share your stories.
- Record it somewhere. NOOOOOoooooo!!!! Yes. If you have spent the time, probably several hours, carefully and intentionally crafting a testimony that honors God and His work in your life, why would you not record it?! Use your phone. Post it on social media. Send it to someone you love. Tools are meant to be used, so use yours.
- Check out this video on how to craft a 15-second testimony if you need help getting started. (https://youtu.be/hkprflNySS8)
Drop a comment below to let us know how God has used sharing your story to impact others! Better yet, record your testimony, share it on social media, and tag @mbcollegiate with the hashtags #collegiatedisciplemaker and #lifetransformation