If you’re a Christian, sharing the story of how you became a follower of Jesus is one of the best tools you have for evangelism.
The Bible is full of stories of people who came to know Jesus because of the testimony of someone else. One of my favorite examples is in John 4, when Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman and reveals himself to be the Son of God.
John records her response:
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. 42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
I love that. First, they believed because of the woman’s story, and later they experienced who Jesus was for themselves. We have that same opportunity to share our story with others.
The problem is many of us don’t. Even those who are close to us may not know how we came to Christ. Chuck Lawless, a blogger and professor at Southeastern Seminary, observes:
Some unbelieving spouses have never heard their own spouse’s conversion story.
Children and teens often know nothing of the events surrounding their parents’ or grandparents’ turning to Christ.
Some adult children don’t learn the details of their elderly parents’ conversion until late in life – sometimes not until making funeral preparations.
Church-going couples sometimes get engaged without knowing each other’s conversion story.
If we don’t share how God has changed our lives with people who share our beliefs, how will we ever share the gospel with people who don’t?
So what do we do? How should you go about sharing your story if you’ve never thought through it before?
A Simple Framework
As a youth pastor, one of the things I’ve had the privilege of doing is walking middle schoolers and high schoolers through the process of getting baptized. One of the requirements for baptism at that church was that the person being baptized (baptizeé?) share the story of how they became a Christian and how Jesus has changed their life.
We used a simple framework that I’d encourage you to use as well. It looks like this:
- My Life Before Christ – Every story has a beginning. No one is born a Christian. Sure, you may have grown up in church for as long as you can remember, but at some point, every disciple of Christ makes a decision to turn FROM their way of life of sin and selfishness and turn TO Jesus for forgiveness. So how did you grow up? What was your life like? You may not have had a history with drugs and partying, but all of us are sinners by birth and by choice. What was your life based around? Was it achieving something? Following the rules? Looking for approval? How did these things leave you empty and searching for more?
- How I Came to Know Christ – This is when you heard and understood the gospel. Maybe your parents told you about Jesus who died and rose again for your sins. Maybe a friend shared the gospel with you. Maybe you were in a church service or a conference and heard the message of Jesus in a way that cut you to the heart. Paul asks in Romans 10:14, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?”
How did you come to hear about Jesus?
- How Jesus has Changed My Life – How is your life different now? How have you seen God working to change you? Who are you living for now? Yes, you still struggle with sin, but where are you seeing God help you overcome those sin struggles?
Here’s a two-minute video of what I’m describing.
It’s amazing to watch a teenager have the opportunity to publicly identify with Christ through baptism AND have a public stage to share the gospel with family & friends who will see the video.
Now, of course, you don’t have to record a video, but you can use this method for telling your story. Who I was before Christ, how I came to Christ, and how Christ has changed my life.
Jesus Changed My Life (and he can change yours too!)
My story is that of a typical church kid. I grew up in a Christian family with awesome parents that were very involved in church. Some of my earliest memories are at church events. I prayed with my mom to trust in Jesus when I was 5 or 6, but I don’t have any memories of this time and, honestly, I’m not sure how much I understood. Into my teenage years, my life still revolved around myself while appearing to follow all the rules. God wasn’t the center of my life — I was. But because I grew up in church, I knew how to give the “right answers” and appear like a good kid.
But one day, at a youth group retreat, it’s like I heard it all for the first time. Something clicked and I realized I was a sinner who had done wrong. My sin had created separation between me and God, but because of his love, he sent Jesus to die in my place and rise again. To be at that retreat and see other students who’s lives were devoted to Jesus, made me realize Christianity wasn’t just a set of beliefs I agree to, but a lifestyle of depending on God and living for Him.
I don’t know if that was the moment I was saved, or if it was just God growing my understanding of what I first believed as a young child. Either way, Jesus has changed my life. By his grace, I don’t just know things about God and try to follow some moral rules. Instead, I can know God and have a relationship with Him. The purpose of my life now is to live for Him and help others follow Jesus as well.
So, what’s your story?
Have you ever written it out?
Do your family and friends know how you became a believer?
What if your small group took a night just to share how they came to know Jesus?
Take some time to look back and think about how it all happened and how your life has changed. Write down 2-3 minutes worth of things and practice sharing it with others.
There are people in your life who need to hear how Jesus has changed you, and how he can change them, too.