Believe it or not, your personal testimony is one of the most powerful and compelling tools God has given you in reaching nonbelievers with the gospel. Now, I'm not talking about the common, garden-variety, churchy "braggamony." We have all yawned and groaned as others rambled and preached their way through a so-called testimony—which was about as fresh, appealing, and tasty as warm, month-old lettuce.
That kind of testimony never attracted anyone!
I'd like to help you carry out the project of preparing your testimony, that it might become an effective, powerful missile launched regularly from your lips into the ears of the unsaved. Consider these five suggestions:
1. You want to be listened to, so be interesting. No one, no matter how gracious, enjoys being bored. It's a contradiction to talk about how exciting Christ really is in an uninteresting way. Work on your wording, your flow of thought, your key terms. Remember, the person isn't saved, so guard against religious clichés and hard-to-understand terminology.
2. You want to be understood, so be logical. I suggest that you think of your salvation in three phases . . . and construct your testimony accordingly: (a) before you were born again—the loneliness, lack of peace, absence of love, unrest, and fears; (b) the decision that revolutionized your life, and (c) the change, the difference He has made since you received Christ.
3. You want the moment of your new birth to be clear, so be specific. Be extremely careful here. Don't be at all vague regarding how you became a Christian. Speak of Christ, not the church. Refer to the decision you made, the moment of time when you received the Lord. Be simple and direct. Emphasize faith more than feeling.
4. You want your testimony to be used, so be practical. Be human and honest as you talk. Don't promise, "All your problems will end if you will become a Christian," for that isn't true. Try to think as an unbeliever thinks as you are speaking. Refuse to pick theological lint. Restrain yourself from plucking the wings off religious flies. Theoretical stuff doesn't attract his or her attention as much as practical reality.
5. You want your testimony to produce results, so be warm and genuine. A smile breaks down more barriers than the hammer blows of cold, hard facts. Be friendly and sincere. Let your enthusiasm flow freely. It's hard to convince another person of the sheer joy and excitement of knowing Christ if you're wearing a jail-warden face. Above all, be positive and courteous.
Give thought to this, my friend. Ask God to open your lips and honor your words . . . but be careful! Once your missile hits the target, you'll become totally dissatisfied with your former life as an earth-bound, secret-service saint.
Excerpt taken from Come before Winter and Share My Hope by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 1985, 1988, 1994 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.
Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Featuring books for your permanent bookshelf from Charles R. Swindoll: Life Is 10% What Happens to You and 90% How You React - softcover book, and Growing Deep in the Christian Life: Essential Truths for Becoming Strong in the Faith.