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Stories communicate across many cultures throughout the world. That is why sharing your story is one of the most powerful ways to witness to others about the love and grace of Jesus Christ. Your story makes God's transformative power personal.

However, it’s essential to approach this task with sensitivity and wisdom, especially when speaking to those who do not share your beliefs. Here are a few dos and don'ts to consider when preparing your testimony for your next mission trip or opportunity to share the gospel.

Do: Remember Your Audience

As you talk to someone, listen for relatable items to serve as natural bridges into your story or connections you can bring up later. You’ll have to know your testimony well but be flexible enough to edit it for your audience. Have an interesting, attention-grabbing introduction and a solid conclusion. Relay details throughout the story to create interest.

Do: Share Your Story

Start with what your life was like before Christ. Who did you think God was? How did you think you would get to Heaven? What sin or struggle was prevalent in your life? Then move into how you came to know Christ as your Savior. This is where you share who Jesus is and what He did for you (more on that below). Lastly, include what your life has been like since you’ve trusted Christ.

Do: Include the Gospel Message

As you tell your story, remember to communicate the gospel message. Clearly explain the main points of the gospel, including that everyone is a sinner, that Christ died for sins and rose from the dead, and that those who trust in Him will have forgiveness and hope for eternity through Him. Include Scripture to support the message. Romans 6:23 is a good verse to use in evangelism.

Do: Practice your ABCs

When sharing your testimony, it is important to remember the ABCs. Keep it audible, brief, and Christ-centered. Practice often so that telling the main points of your story is natural for you. Practicing with your friends and family can be beneficial to get feedback and experience before telling your story to other individuals or groups.

Do: Rely on the Spirit

When an opportunity to share arises, ask God for the wisdom and the words to communicate well. You have the power of the Holy Spirit working through you to accomplish God’s will (John 14:26). Rely on His power, and trust God to handle the results.

Now that you know what to do when sharing your testimony, let's go over what not to do.

Don't: Don't Use Christianese

One of the most common pitfalls when sharing your faith is using “Christianese”—the jargon and insider language familiar to those within the church but often confusing or alienating to those outside of it. Terms like “sanctification,” “washed in the blood,” “born again,” or ”walking by the Spirit” might be meaningful to you, but they can be bewildering to someone who hasn’t grown up in the faith.

When you share your testimony, speak plainly and clearly. Instead of saying, “I was born again,” you might say, “God gave me a new life.” Replace the word “sanctification” with “I'm learning how to live with Jesus by my side every day.” Using everyday language makes your story more relatable and understandable.

Don't: Don't Speak Critically or Negatively of Others

Those who have a new life in Christ have left their old lifestyle behind. That may mean not associating with those who were a part of the old lifestyle. But it’s crucial to avoid criticizing or speaking negatively about individuals or groups, whether they are other religions, denominations, or nonbelievers. Negative speech can build barriers rather than bridges, and it can quickly turn a conversation adversarial.

When talking about your life before Christ, focus on your own sin rather than the shortcomings of others. Share how you saw the depth of your sin in light of God's love for you. Doing this will help focus the conversation on God's mercy and may help unbelievers see how much they are in need of God's grace.

Don't: Give the Impression That the Christian Life Is Without Troubles

While it’s important to share the joy and blessings that come with being a follower of Christ, it’s equally important to be honest about the challenges. If you present the Christian life as a trouble-free existence, it can seem disingenuous or even misleading.

Be authentic about your struggles. Share how your faith has helped you navigate difficult times and how Jesus has been a source of strength and comfort in the midst of trials. This honesty makes your testimony more believable and relatable. People are often more impacted by how believers handle adversity with faith than by an idealized, problem-free picture.

As you tell others what Jesus has done in your life, don't worry about doing it perfectly. Remember, believers are responsible for sharing the gospel, not saving someone—that's the Holy Spirit's job. If you are faithful to share your story and God's story, then the Lord might allow you to see someone's life change forever.

Click here to see an example of someone's testimony.