Religion Magazine

On Telling Your Story

By Richardl @richardlittleda


Last week, started series in our evening services at church called “spiritual toolkit”. Using many different media and formats we are looking at a number of vital skills for any Christian man or woman. This week the subject was ‘sharing your story’ or ‘giving your testimony. Earlier this week I had been reading an article by author Merrilyn Williams on the importance of story. In it she described story as ‘the one permanent means of conveying information in the history of the human race’. She went on to say that ‘if our attention span is diminished and our craving for the feel-good factor is never satisfied, is story the answer’?  It may well be, and no faith story is more powerful than your own – the story of what God has done or is doing in your life. That said, many are terrified of being asked to tell it, and landing up like Peter pit on the spot and asked ‘who do YOU say that I am’? As people came into the service , they were asked to find out a fun fact (middle name,least favorite food etc) about their neighbor.  I talked a little bit about the reasons why testimony matters and some of our fears relating to them. We then looked at Hugh Grant’s famous struggle to say what he really meant and discussed it further in groups.People talked about how he could have done it better, and noted that some of his qualms in speaking up were exactly theirs. They then shared the non-threatening ‘fun facts’ they had learned with each other. We then looked at some elements of effective testimonies:

  • No drama: noting the repetition of “lost and found, dead and now alive” in the story of the prodigal son – we noted that there is an intrinsic drama to anybody’s story of coming to faith. We don’t need to dress it up or dramatize it to make it interesting. Of course if we our life was on the brink and then we were saved, we should say so. Conversely – if we drifted into faith through a gradual awakening, that is quite good enough. We don’t all have to be a David Wilkerson or a Jackie  Pullinger – being saved is dramatic enough.
  • Perspective: often the story people tell is really unbalanced. If they feel that their pre-Christian life was dramatic or interesting, they can allow it to dominate the story. Equally, if they have been a Christian for most of their adult life – they can end up telling a story dominated by churchy things with little by way of anchor on the world of the person who is listening. Either way, like the pictogram below, the result is unbalanced:


  • Power: in the end it is the story itself, rather than the words with which we tell it, which is powerful. Think of the diminutive Malala, with her quiet voice and her unassuming manner as an example.

After this, we spent some time looking at three testimonies in small groups. These were Paul’s testimony in Acts 26, the woman at the well’s testimony in John 4 and the man born blind’s testimony in John 9. People were invited to choose a one-word description of each, and then to share their ‘top tips’ for testimonies with each other. Before closing the evening with prayer for each other, we watched the video below – a classic example of how not to do it. Enjoy the video – and please pass on your own top tips via the comments box.  

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