On Sunday at ExponentialChurch.tv I shared a message called, “The Two Stories of a Difference Maker“. One of those is knowing how to tell God’s story in a clear and passionate way. The other story is your story of how you either came into a relationship with Jesus or how a certain aspect of your life has changed as a result of your relationship with Him. I challenged everyone to write out their personal testimony and then email it to me so I could review it and make suggestions.
It’s been awesome over the past 2+ days now to have received so many stories of life change. All but one of them so far though have needed to be tweaked for various reasons. I fault myself for some of this so I wanted to do this post to help those of you who are still working on the assignment. So here are a couple of things that either I failed to say or a reminder of what we’re trying to accomplish.
- Remember who you’re doing this for- This is probably my fault for not making it clear enough but remember not to write it as how you would tell it to me. Think about a neighbor or friend who is far from God…how would you tell it to them.
- Write it conversationally- This is my big regret from Sunday. I should have made it clear that even though you’re writing it down so it will ultimately be easier to memorize, you need to write it the way you talk. So my suggestion is try saying some things out loud and then write down what felt most natural.
- Reminder: Keep it under 3 minutes- Most have done a pretty good job of keeping it short but some have gotten a bit too detailed. Usually where this happens is giving extra travelogue that doesn’t really add to the story for the listener. For example, a few people have mentioned specific people by name and exact locations down to the street address. All this will do is get your listener thinking about “do I know that person” or “do I know where that is” instead of concentrating on the real story, which is how much Jesus has changed your life.
- On the flip side…give some details- Now you’re really confused right? A couple of the emails I have gotten were only bullet points. Again keep in mind the purpose of this exercise is to have written out your full story in the way that you would say it. So for example if I just point the bullet point of “anxious” as one of my before Jesus problems, I still don’t know what I’m going to say in the moment. For each “problem” you should have a 1-2 sentence example of that. Let me give you an example from my own life showing you both the wrong way to do it (#3 above) and the right way to do it (#4 here).
In our hypothetical situation lets say your friend mentions how stressed out and anxious they are. Here’s the wrong way
to do it. “You know before I became a Christian I used to be the same way. I remember back to the spring of 1993. I was
a sophomore in college at Hagerstown Community College. I was in Mr. Baker’s accounting class getting ready to take my
final and was so nervous about it that I literally threw up I was so nervous and anxious about it. But then later that
summer Keith Skidmore and Marvin Bower shared with me…”
Notice all the extra travelogue that doesn’t really help advance the story. I could say the exact same thing this way. “You
know before I became a Christian I used to be the same way. In fact, I remember once being so nervous about taking a
test in school that I threw up beforehand. But then two men shared with me…”
What I’m trying to get you to see is that there is a big difference between the written word, where you want a lot of details,
and the spoken word where you want just enough details to not distract from your main theme.
5. Avoid the Christianese- Think about how you would communicate to someone who has never stepped foot in a church or ever
opened up a bible. Despite my warnings on Sunday about avoiding these, this has been the biggest thing that I keep seeing over
and over. Here are some examples of words and phrases that people have included that I’ve told to go back and fix.
- My repentance prayer
- Watered the seeds my parents had planted
- Jesus lives in my heart
- Asked Jesus into my life
- Been redeemed
- Got saved
- Made Jesus Lord and Savior
- Received salvation
As I said Sunday…all of the above things are true…but just not the best way to say them in a way a person far from God will understand. As a game, try to come up with the better way to say each of the above.If I think of anything else, I’ll put it in another post. In the meantime…happy writing. Can’t wait to hear the stories of how God makes opportunities available for you to share your 3 minute story in a humble, interesting, and clear way!