THE POWER OF YOUR STORY
One powerful tool in EvangeLIVING is testimony, because it gives people a story that they can personally connect with. The world of literature discovered the power of story long ago. The entertainment industry has carried on the tradition in modern media. Businesses have learned the power of story and how it can influence their customers better than simply presenting information. Research has shown that hearing a story is able to impact people in a unique way. As humans, we connect with other people’s stories. While a lecturer can provide information to people that they can store in their heads, if they share a personal story, people’s hearts are touched.
The Bible is a collection of stories. When we read the Scriptures, we are drawn into the stories of men and women as we discover how they encountered the Lord. Which of us has not been influenced by the courage of David facing Goliath or the faith of Peter stepping out on the water? And God is still writing amazing stories in the lives of His children. But these stories are not meant to be kept to ourselves, but rather shared with the world around us.
Every believer has a story to tell
If you are a believer, you have a story to tell. Some believers struggle with this concept because they feel that their testimony is not very impressive compared to others they have heard. But I believe the devil tries to undermine their testimony by convincing them to just keep quiet. He knows the power of sharing your story, so he tries to make it seem illegitimate by whispering in your ear, “You don’t have anything to share. You’ve never been addicted to drugs. You came to Christ as a child. What kind of story is that?” But the reality is that any story of how the Lord has saved, protected and sustained a person’s life has the potential to impact the life of an unbeliever when it is shared.Any story of how the Lord has saved, protected and sustained a person’s life has the potential to impact the life of an unbeliever when it is shared. Click To Tweet
Share stories pertinent to people’s needs
Often, when we think about testimonies, we tend to have a very narrow perspective on what that means. We usually relate that to the story of how someone came to Christ. But our lives are a series of smaller testimonies that are equally as powerful when we are ministering to people. For example, suppose you are sharing the Gospel with someone and you find out that they are facing a terrible loss in their life. And several years ago, you experienced a similar loss. You can share the story of how your faith in God got you through that season. This could be the common ground between you and that person that really causes them to open up and want to hear more about having a relationship with God.
Some people in your workplace or school need to hear the story of how your faith in Christ just got you through a difficult circumstance. Others need to hear the story about why you are not at the bars all weekend and miserable every Monday morning. So, be open to the needs of the people you are sharing with and examine your life to find points of contact where you can connect with them on a deeper level.
Your story is a living illustration of the power of the Gospel you are presenting.
The unique factor about Christian evangelism is that we are not trying to simply present people with information to get them to join a club or sign on a dotted line. We are welcoming them into a relationship with God that we ourselves have entered into and been transformed by His Spirit inside of us. We become the living proof of what we are sharing with other people. Paul told the church in 2 Corinthians 3:2-3,
“You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”
Here Paul is describing the church as a letter written with the ink of the Spirit of God. And he says that we are, “known and read by all men.” The reality is that the world is looking at our lives, and the way that we live tells them a story. And that story has the power to show what Christ can truly do–not in word only–but in a life.The world is looking at our lives, and the way that we live tells them a story. And that story has the power to show what Christ can truly do, not in word only, but in a life. Click To Tweet
I recently had coffee with a professing atheist. Toward the beginning of the conversation, he asked how anyone could know that some book was the truth over all the other religions and philosophies in the world. I responded, “I can tell you how I know, although it probably won’t be a sufficient answer intellectually. The way that I know the God of the Bible is real is that I know Him personally. His Holy Spirit lives inside of me.” I then shared a brief testimony of how I came to Christ. People can argue with you theologically, but they cannot argue away your personal story of encountering God.
Your story can give people a glimpse of what would be possible for them if they surrendered their lives to Christ. This is why it is so important that we actively and continually share what God has done and is doing in our lives.
Your story can serve as a bridge between unbelievers and God.
When I am in a conversation with an unbeliever, so often they will share about something in their life that I can relate to. Testimony is like a bridge that gives us access into other people’s lives. A few weeks ago, I was with a friend on the streets of our city. We approached a young man sitting on the side of the road. We had a brief conversation, and he was kind but not interested in talking about Jesus. As we began to bless him and walk away, I said, “You know, I was an addict for years before I came to Christ and He set me free.” When I said that, the young man began to open up about his own addiction struggles and how he did not feel like he could come to Christ until he cleaned his life up. We were able to have a great conversation with him, leave him a tract and pray with him.
This encounter all happened as a result of me sharing just a short testimony. And from his perspective, I changed from a random guy approaching him on the sidewalk to someone who he could relate to and talk to.
Think about your journey with the Lord. Consider some of the main ways that you have seen Him show up in your life. What was it that caused you to come to Christ? How has He helped you through difficult situations? In what ways can your story impact unbelievers?
DUSTIN RENZ is the President of Make Way Ministries, a non-profit organization that exists to see the world changed one Christian at a time. He has a passion to see the Body of Christ find rich intimacy in their relationship with Jesus and step out in faith to share the Gospel with the world around them. He is the author of Pile of Masks: Exposing Christian Hypocrisy and Something Better. He resides in Dayton, Ohio with his wife and three daughters.