We have recently set aside the first Sunday night of each month to hear the testimony of one church member, and have already benefitted tremendously from these evenings together. I put together the following outline to explain the purpose of these testimonies in the life of the local church, and to offer some guidelines for preparing a testimony:
Honoring Christ by Sharing our Testimonies
Curve Baptist Church
I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you. Psalm 22:22
What is a Testimony?
A testimony is simply honoring the Lord by bearing witness to others about His work in your own life.
Examples of Testimonies in Scripture
The Lord commends sharing testimonies throughout His Word, particularly in the Psalms. We continually read of the Psalmist promising to tell of the greatness of the Lord “in the midst of the congregation.” Often, he asks the Lord to deliver him so that he can testify of God’s salvation. So many of the psalms exemplify this, but here are just a few examples: Psalm 22:22-24; 30; 32; 34; 71:14-24.
In the New Testament, the Gospels and the Book of Acts provide us with a number of examples of men and women who testify about what Jesus has done for them. (John 4:28-30; 9:8-25; Acts 4:13-22, Acts 22:1-21, etc.) The saints in Revelation 12:10-11 are said to have overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” Whatever the exact nature of this testimony, we know they were publicly identifying with Jesus Christ despite the opposition of Satan.
A principle emerges across the pages of Scripture: one of God’s designs in saving us is that we will in turn honor him by sharing our testimony with others.
The Value of Testimonies in the Church
Why should we regularly set aside time to share and hear testimonies? What is the value of these testimonies alongside the ongoing preaching ministry in the church?
Testimonies make Gospel truth take on flesh and blood. It is one thing to hear a sermon on God’s grace; it is quite another to hear a brother or sister speak personally of his or her experience of God’s grace. Testimonies invigorate and excite us as we are reminded that God is alive and at work in our midst.
The one giving testimony is obeying the Lord by “telling out his greatness in the midst of the congregation.” His soul also receives the benefit of reflecting slowly and intentionally on God’s hand of grace on his life from his earliest days until now.
The believers hearing the testimony are obeying the Lord by allowing their brother to testify to the Lord’s grace and goodness. They are serving their brother or sister by patiently and attentively listening and offering encouragement. These listeners are in turn stirred to praise the Lord for his work in the life of the speaker, and are moved to reflect on God’s work in their own lives.
The sharing of testimonies serves to bind the church together, as we open up our lives to one another rather than keeping one another at a distance.
An unbeliever hearing a testimony is pointed to Jesus as the living Savior of sinners.
A Few Guidelines for Preparing Your Testimony
If you are asked to share your testimony, you will not be able to say all that could be said about God’s work in you over the course of your entire life. So what should you focus on? Here are a few guidelines that will help you as you are preparing:
Take time to examine the Biblical examples of testimonies listed above, especially the detailed account of Paul’s testimony in Acts 22:1-21. What elements in Paul’s testimony are similar to yours? How does Paul point to Jesus with his testimony, and how can you do the same with yours?
Take time to reflect on how God’s hand of Providence can now be more clearly seen as you look back on your life. How was the Lord at work in bringing you to Himself from your childhood up to now?
Speak honestly about coming to an awareness of your sin, your neediness, and how you were brought to repentance by God’s grace (i.e., don’t stand up and say, “I’ve always been a good person”). But this does not mean dragging listeners through the mud of a detailed account of your sins. The goal is not to see how “dramatic” your testimony can be; any previously dead sinner who is now alive in Christ has a plenty dramatic testimony. (Eph 2:1-10)
Speak about coming to faith in Jesus Christ. Who did the Lord use in your life as influences to point you to Jesus? If you can pinpoint a certain moment of conversion, then talk about that. If you cannot pinpoint a certain time, then talk about that.
Speak about your life since you began following Jesus. What have been some of the major milestones along the way, whether struggles or victories? How does believing the Gospel continue to impact your life daily?
Speak about God’s ongoing work in your life right now. What is He teaching you? How is He challenging you? What role does the church play in your life?
Remember that Jesus should be the hero of your testimony. Above all, point the listeners to God and his grace, and not to yourself. Don’t focus on your old life of sin so much, or your new life of obedience so much, that Jesus is overshadowed.