Everyone has a story. And everyone who has trusted in Christ has the best story, one that’s worth telling.
Many believers, however, are a bit timid when it comes to sharing their stories. You might be one of these timid believers. This is, perhaps, because your story’s details are somewhat of a discombobulated collection of experiences floating, like an astronaut in space, around your mind. It’s all there, but you just can’t seem to get it in order.
Thankfully we have beautiful examples of a testimony’s composition in Scripture. Paul’s testimony before King Agrippa, for one, serves as a noteworthy tool to teach us how we can share our stories with the lost.
The following includes ten tips to formatting your story, based on Paul’s experience in the latter chapters of Acts. I encourage you to read the corresponding passages to obtain the full intention of these tips:
1. Be Confident (25:23-27): The world treats Christians like second-class citizens. Anyone who believes in God is unscientific and archaic in his beliefs. However, Acts 25:23-27 reveals that faith in Jesus is a justified belief. The Roman government, although in disagreement, counted Paul’s beliefs as warranted. Paul was confident in what he believed, and we should be too. He was “not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom 1:16).
2. Be Respectful (26:1-3): Christians unfortunately have a reputation of being disrespectful to those that disagree with us, especially when the disagreement is over one of our pet peeve sins (homosexuality, for example). However, Paul shows us in Acts 26:1-3 that we ought to be respectful to our audience.
3. Be Transparent (26:4-5, 9-11): Paul didn’t hold back any details of his past. He was open and honest about his sin and how it separated him from God. He was, quite plainly, an enemy of God, as we all were before salvation. This is an important portion of your story. People need to grasp the full notion of sin, and the best way to do that is to explain how you too needed God’s saving grace.
4. Be Honest About Your Intentions (26:6-8): Sometimes Christians are guilty of building pseudo-relationships. That is, we don’t really care about getting to know someone, only making them our project. This is unbiblical. Paul was open and honest about why he wanted to talk to the Roman officials.
5. Talk About Meeting Jesus (26:9-18): This tip isn’t to be confused with #7, which is an explicit explanation of the gospel. It’s the opportunity to talk about how you met Jesus. It’s an opportunity to show the person that Jesus isn’t some mythical, fictional character, but our living Savior.
6. Talk About Experiencing Persecution (26:19-21): In sharing your story, it’s important to share the full story, which includes the reality of persecution. Christianity isn’t a life free from problems. Paul was clear in explaining this and we should be too.
7. Explain the Gospel (26:20b, 22-23): The explicit and clear announcement of the gospel ought to be part of your testimony. No one should be able to walk away after hearing your story without knowing that Jesus is the only answer to sin. This includes his death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, as Paul so eloquently illustrates in his testimony before Agrippa.
8. Invite to Believe (26:24-28): I can’t express how important an invitation is to me personally. It was the invitation that provided an opportunity for me to respond to God’s calling. An invitation is an extremely important part of telling your story. Paul illustrates this for us in passionately pleading to Agrippa to believe in Jesus. And we read that Agrippa was just about persuaded by the end of the experience!
9. Accept Their Response (26:29): It’s important to know that you can’t save someone. Only God can do that. Your job isn’t to save people; it’s to be faithful. Paul didn’t argue with Agrippa for not immediately accepting Christ. He left it up to God.
10. Accept the Consequences (26:30-32): Sometimes there are consequences for sharing your faith. For Paul it was imprisonment. Thankfully we don’t have to worry about that. Yet. But there might be other consequences for sharing your faith, such as the loss of friendships or even the loss of relationships with family. It might even go further, such as discipline at your job or at your school. Paul was willing to die in order that the highest officials in the Roman government would hear.
These are but ten tips we can learn from Paul’s testimony to Agrippa. What other tips do you find in Scripture? What have you found to be effective when sharing your personal story?