11 September 2013

Guide to writing & giving your 3 minute testimony!

This was originally put this together for Youth 2000 retreatants at Walsingham Prayer Festival. But it is still useful to everyone who has come away from any kind of event where God has really touched your heart deeply...

Stories are powerful! We all love stories!  And as God’s beloved, you have a powerful story to tell...

Sharing how you came to Jesus and the difference He’s made in your life can help others discover how they, too, can know God personally.

But how do you divulge a lifetime of experiences into a few minutes and communicate the significance of your faith in a way others can understand? This is a challenge!

It’s the reason we’ve put together some guidelines to help you draft a three-minute personal testimony that you can share with individuals or groups. A carefully prepared testimony, empowered by the Holy Spirit, can be a tool you can use anywhere to effectively share a unique message of God’s love. This has come from a variety of sources mostly found on Google, but have been adapted for you.

Getting started

As you set out to gather ideas, begin by asking God to bathe this process with His Spirit, and give you Wisdom as you write. Doing this before the Blessed Sacrament and asking Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, for her intercession is our top tip! Your objective at this point is to write freely without editing. Simply get all your ideas on paper.

The outline below will provide a solid frame to build your story on. Try to think of specific examples and details that relate to each question.

1. What was your life like before you identified that you believe in Jesus Christ?

  • What were your attitudes, needs and problems?
  • What did your life revolve around? What was most important to you?
  • Where did you look for security, peace of mind and happiness?
2. How did you come to accept Christ and His immense love for you?
  • Was there a moment or series of moments when you first realised that God is real?
  • Was there a particular place or event that became a prominent feature in your faith journey?
  • Was the Virgin Mary, or any of the Saints, people who have inspired you to draw closer to Christ?
  • Have your parents / other specific people you know helped you grow deeper in your faith & love of the Church? 
  •  Are there any Sacraments that you experience/d where you have been profoundly touched by God’s Love?
3. How is your Life In Christ now?

  • What changes did you see in your life? In your attitudes? In your actions?
  • What does Jesus Christ, your Catholic faith, the Church mean to you now?

Threading it together

During this second step, it’s time to get selective and decide which details to include. Read through your ideas, and using a highlighter, underline the most important feelings, examples or incidents that relate to each of the three points in the outline above. Use the ideas you highlight to begin writing your story, and make sure you explain what your life was like before you knew Christ, how you came to know Him, and what your life is like now. This section will help you shape your story:

  • Begin in a spirit of sharing the Truth of your life.
  • Be positive & joyful from start to finish.
  • Be specific. Give enough detail to arouse interest (– especially about the Holy Trinity).
  • Be realistic. Do not imply that Christ removes all of life’s problems, but, rather, that He walks with you through them.
  • Use one or two Scripture verses, YouCat or doctrinal snippets, but only where they would directly relate to your experience and fit in naturally.
  • Edit and rewrite as needed. Consider writing your first draft and setting it aside for a day so you can go back to it with a fresh perspective.
  • Write a conclusion that makes your testimony sound finished and complete but that God works in your life daily, and you are still on a journey.
There are certain things you should filter from your story to avoid detracting from its essential message. 
  • Don’t lie or embellish.
  • Don’t harshly criticize the church, organizations or other people.
  • Be careful not to glamorize how “bad” you used to be [i.e. don’t glorify sin!]

Telling your story

It might seem tough the first time or two, but the more you share your story, the easier it will get. Most people will appreciate your willingness to talk openly about your life, and no one can argue with your personal experience.
  • Rehearse your testimony until it becomes natural. Practice sharing it with friends or family members.
  • Share your story with enthusiasm, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Smile often. Ask the Lord to give you a pleasant expression.
  • Speak clearly, in a natural, relaxed tone. Speak loudly enough to be heard.
  • Stick to your time limit. Go too long and you’ll lose your audience.
  • Tailor your story to your audience. Use examples from your experience that will relate to theirs.
  • Beware of nervous mannerisms that can distract others as they listen to your story, such as rubbing your nose, swaying, swinging your foot, jingling coins in your pocket, playing with a pencil, clearing your throat, or using many “you knows”, "errrrms" and “uhs.”
Remember that a testimony should never be a “preachimony.” Stay humble; never argue or use high pressure methods to persuade people to make decisions for Christ. And also remember that people will approach or contact you if there was something mentioned in your testimony that touched them that they want to know more about.

Keep it fresh

New chapters of your life are being written all the time, so in one sense, your story is never complete. Feel free to add new content and revise to keep your testimony fresh and reflect God’s ongoing work in your life.

Look for openings

Ask God to give you opportunities to tell your story, and look for openings. People you meet may comment that there’s something different about you, or even ask you why you’re such a “religious” person. Such situations are windows of opportunity to tell your story of faith. Also consider that these are opportunities to give others the Hope of Jesus, or to simply make a massive difference to a person's day by the attention you give them! These are opportunities of faith and charity for sure...

Besides sharing your story one-on-one or in group situations, consider putting your testimony in written form to give to people you meet.
Be creative in sharing your life! And enjoy sharing with others the incredible story of what our Awesome God, is doing in you and through you! And don't forget to share it with us too! To see each and every one of you glorify God by your witness and life gives us a renewed sense of thanksgiving for God's Light and Love, and that there is no-one better we can possibly serve!

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