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I can be a bit of a bookworm. At various points in life I have been called a theological nerd. I know it's true, and I'm okay with that. I find theological distinctions helpful and important and love teaching on them. I could spend weekends enthralled with a new found book by an old dead pastor.  A few years ago, if you had asked me what it meant to share the gospel with someone, I could quickly give you an eight page outline, with four to five essential main points, and an exhaustive list of subpoints to each category. And if all of that list was not adequately shared then the gospel was not shared. My thinking was impressive (at least to me), but truthfully (and not surprisingly) I rarely shared the gospel, in fact I rarely got into meaningful conversations with people. I knew what the Bible said about being a witness and making disciples, but something was drastically off. The disparity between what I knew and how I lived began to weigh on me, and I began to pray about changing in this area and had several things happen to help me grow in sharing my faith, and I want to share this with you to better help your witness. 

First, one day I attended a small Bible study with a zealously evangelistic group. We read Deuteronomy 6, a familiar passage about the greatest command to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, but the passage also says we are to talk about God’s commands wherever we go, when we sit at home or go on the road, when we rise or when we lie down. A core part of the discussion was on how we are to talk about our relationship with God anytime and anywhere. 

The guy leading the Bible study pointed out and challenged us to “live out loud,” that is talk about what God is doing in our lives. I’m good at talking about things, but I don’t easily share what is going on in my life. My day to day routine and thoughts had felt trivial next to the great truths of the faith, but the day to day is the exact place that the great truths are to shape and influence! I began to see witnessing as simply talking about God, his commands and what he is doing in my day to day life. I saw a new side to this familiar Old Testament command, and it caused me to rethink my daily conversation and habits. I began to see opportunities rise all around me. 

The second thing that happened to me is I began spending time with another believer that was the exact opposite of me. I’m an inward processor and like to have everything figured out before I speak. Gary was a large personality, an outward processor in every sense of the word, everything he did was big and loud. If you said hello and asked how he was, he would almost shout, “Blessed and highly favored by my Father.” That would get someone’s attention!

Another thing about Gary is that he was a recovering drug addict. I don’t know many people that were as low as he was in life and had risen as high as he did. He went from homeless and eating out of garbage cans to closing big time business deals and being a pillar in the church. The reason for this change was, in his words, "Jesus changed me!" He also didn’t want anyone to "accidentally" find out about his past and be surprise, so he told everyone his story right off the bat. His testimony came up over and over again, almost as soon as he met someone, and it was always compelling. People would sit in amazement at how God had worked in his life. Many of those people may not have even believed in God, but they sat captivated by his story and what happened to him. 

After a few months of working together and being amazed at his boldness, Gary asked me to share my story with him, and so I did. It was rather mundane compared to his, but after sharing it, he looked at me and with a little bit of frustration and said, “That is amazing. Why haven't I ever heard that before?” His question was more than a polite prod. He was genuinely upset and perplexed that I would keep that to myself. He said, “People need to hear that. How many others are dealing with the same things, and your testimony of how God worked in your life tells them who Jesus is and how he changes people. God calls you to be a light, so why in the world would you cover the light of his work in you?” 

I was dumbfounded. He was right, and I began trying to share my testimony of how I was an angry and confused teen that hit rock bottom with alcohol, started attending a Bible study in a dorm, and ended up finding peace and joy by surrendering my life to Jesus. That testimony did not fully meet my previous standards of what sharing the gospel was, but it sure did start opening doors to talk about all the other stuff. 

I started taking time each day and morning to think about what God was showing me or doing in me that I could share with others. I also started to be more intentional with telling others my story, and in general being less guarded about what I said. It did not come naturally to me, and took concerted effort. It was like working out a muscle that had not been used in a long time. It was hard, but it was also very good and freeing, and I felt the gap between what I knew and how I lived begin narrowing for the first time in my life. 


Living Out Loud

Deuteronomy 6 directs us to “live out loud,” and that is an essential piece of being a witness. Talking about what we are reading in the Bible, our relationship with God, how his word and promises are guiding and directing us, and how he gives hope, are all aspects of witnessing. When we love something we talk about it. Guys rarely need to be encouraged to talk about sports or food. Ladies rarely need prodding to talk about fashion or decorating. Kids rarely need to be forced to talk about legos or star wars. It just comes out, so if we love God it should just come out. So then why don’t we talk more about it? 

I think we have been duped by mantras like, “Don’t talk about religion and politics.” A person’s views or relationship with God is a big topic, but it should not feel taboo to talk about. We must resist the lies of the world that we can’t and shouldn’t talk about it. Right now people are all about sharing and blasting their opinions on everything. Christians should change their mindset and “live out loud.” If you are in the midst of a pressing work deadline then share your confidence in God to provide, if topics of dating come up in the office then talk about how your faith directs and informs you. If someone says, “Hey, how are you?” then take that opportunity to share your faith and life with God. I used to answer the “how are you” question with the politically correct. “I’m good. How are you?” Previously my goal was to show care and concern for the other by taking an interest in their life. I never thought that my answer was shallow and evasive and probably caused the person to reciprocate an equally shallow and evasive response. 

I began to better prepare for ways to share with people, and because of that it also seemed important to bring up this topic in my prayer groups. Most of the groups I was in before would have people state indifferently how seldom they were able to share the gospel or how few “opportunities” came up. They seldom had friends come and say, “Who is Jesus and what is the gospel?” so their evaluation of having few opportunities was true, but I began to see things differently. Opportunities were everywhere, but I had been missing them, and so were they!

One of the main descriptors of Christians in the book of Acts is “Witnesses,” but I didn’t think that word would be used to describe my life, nor that of most Christians I knew. If the church is going to regain that title, then we need to take reps at sharing. One step I took to begin growing in this was adding an element to my weekly small group Bible study of who “Who can you share what you have learned?” And then to avoid getting a one word answer we would also ask, “What would you say to that person.” This helped connect the dots on the lesson and prepare us to share encouragement to strangers, and as we did that, it also equipped us to better share hope and encouragement to the people around us. In addition to that, I also began to think through how I could share my testimony with others. 


Sharing Your Story

One way to grow as a witness is being prepared to share your story of how God has worked in your life. We see this modeled in Scripture. The book of Acts is the account of the missionary adventures of the apostles, and one of the most repeated events in the the book (other than the death and resurrection of Jesus) is the conversion of Saul. It is shared three times in the book (Acts 9:3-8, 22:6-11, 26:13-19). Paul used it as a launching pad to share the good news of Jesus with people, even people fiercely opposed to Jesus. He also used it in other books to remind people of God’s work in him, the chief of sinners (1 Tim 1:12-15, Phil 3). He was a persecutor of the church but became an advocate of the church. God’s grace changed him. He was dead but Jesus brought him life. 

Another compelling account is John 9 when Jesus heals a man born blind. The blind man has his life changed by Jesus, and all he knows of Jesus, is that Jesus changed him. After the healing, he is brought to trial by the Pharisees and asked to give glory to God and tell them who the man is that healed him. In a powerful testimony he says simply, “I don’t know who he is, but one thing I know. I was blind, and now I see” (John 9:25). This is a powerful account and a powerful testimony. He was not a trained theologian, but he gave a powerful witness! God’s work changed him and defined him, and I am convinced that man continued to share the same testimony the rest of his life. He never forgot who he was and what Jesus did for him. Fifty years later he could still share that concise and powerful testimony, “I was blind but now I see.” The simplicity was theologically profound and practically compelling. 

You have a story as well, and you need to share that story with others. Doing so will remind you of how God has worked in your life. It will give you hope and remind you of what is important, and it will allow you to share the life changing good news of Jesus Christ with others. So how do you get started with this? A simple way to do this is to come up with a Fifteen Second Testimony. This provides a concise and powerful way for you to share how God has worked in you. 

To come up with a fifteen second testimony, give some thought to how God has worked in your life and complete this sentence (And feel free to modify the sentence as fits you. Its a guide and not a commandment):

There was a time in my life when I was 

______ and _____

But then I made Jesus #1 

and now my life is

______ and _____


We use the phrase “there was a time in my life” to mark out what your life was like before Christ or when you were not looking to him. It can refer to when you knew nothing of Christ, but it can also refer to a pivotal time in your life as a believer. Even believers go through ups and downs so if a big changed happened after trusting in Christ you can use this to share it. Sometimes people think of sharing testimonies only in regards to their conversion. That is very important, but there are also other things God has done in your life that might be a key part of your story.  

The main thing is that the description you share in your testimony should reveal what life was like without Christ or what you were missing when you were not walking in the fullness of what he has for you. For me to share my story I say “There was a time when I was angry and confused.” The blind man might say “blind and alone.” Paul might say “self-righteous and merciless.” 

The next part is the key change that came about. Some say I trusted in Jesus or made him my Lord and Savior. I say “made him #1” because it cuts through religious jargon that many people seem immune to. Make this your own, but also make sure it gets at the core change you experienced.

And finally is the resolution of the tension in your life. This is where Jesus brought you. It’s what people are looking for. I found “peace and joy.” My confusion and anger were gone. I could rest in him and who he made me to be. He changed my life, and I want people to hear that if he could do that to me then he can certainly do it to you. 

Now take some time to write out your fifteen second testimony, and then after doing that go share it with someone. Start with trusted friends and branch out. Don’t feel like it has to be perfect to share. You will refine it each time you share it. You can also ask your friends for help and input (and bring them into the process and your life!). And then look for ways to share it with others. 

A few key ways to share it with others is simply to work it in wherever you can. When someone says “Hello, how are you?” bring it up. Share it with neighbors or people you meet at church. Be on the lookout for people who are going through struggles similar to what you did. When I hear of people sharing about drinking too much or struggling with anger and depression and addiction I will share it. I have also learned that when people are having a hard time they are often looking for help and hope, so when people talk about the disappointments and hurts of life I will try to share my story with them. 


Come and See 

Another twist to the Fifteen Second Testimony that I like to use in sharing my faith is in regard to church. Church was the place that I learned so much and grew in so many different ways. It was there I found other people who had been through what I was going through and could help me. Sharing your story and connecting them to a community of people committed to Jesus is a powerful one two punch. I think God designed it to be that way. Paul’s practice was to share his story, and it was also to build churches (Acts 15:41). It’s one thing to share how Jesus changed your life, but it is a stronger testimony when they come into a community of people with diverse backgrounds, ethnicities, vocations, and struggles, and they are all testifying to how Jesus changed their lives. 

There is a “come and see” strategy throughout the New Testament. When the disciples met Jesus their first inclination was to go tell their friends to come see what or who they found (John 1:40-42). When Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well, he read her mail and spoke so convincingly about all her bad relationships that she was convinced he was a prophet, and she then ran off to tell others who she had encountered saying “come and see” (John 4:29). As part of our witness, we should want to connect people to the church, and we can use the “come and see” testimony.

As another step to growing in your witness, spend some time thinking about the role of the local church in your life. What has God done in your life through the people and teaching there? How has your life been changed or enriched because of the church and the sacrifice you have made for it? Write a one sentence summary of what you are most grateful for about church and why you continue a part of it. Most people are bored with Jesus because they have only been to dead churches. Sharing a testimony like this demonstrates a powerful distinction between what they have experienced and what Jesus has for them.


Staying Connected

There is an old saying in ministry, no one cares about how much you know until they know how much you care. There are certainly times we want to share the gospel with people that we may never see again. It may be a brief and passing relationship in which we are literally throwing seeds to the wind. But there will be other times we want to build steadily with a person and not leave too quickly. 

In Luke 10 Jesus sent his seventy two disciples ahead of him to the towns he was about to visit. He told them to take nothing for the journey, and that if they were welcomed into the house of a person of peace then they were to stay there (v6). It was a significant thing that someone was interested and supportive enough to let them stay, so Jesus instructed his disciples to continue with that person and eat whatever they provided (v7). They were not to rush off hoping to find another. They were instructed to take their time with that individual. 

We need to see how important it is when a person takes an interest in the kingdom of God and asks questions or even just peacefully listens to us talk about our faith. When that happens don’t move on too quickly. Many believers look down on it because “It’s only one person.” That is to miss the whole point. Reaching one person is massive! What if we all reached one person this year? Our church would be very different and so would our community, even our nation!

So if you have someone that you have shared your testimony with and they have not started avoiding you, and instead still welcome you and ask questions, then look for ways to keep the conversation going and build relationally with them. Intentionally get to know them and ask questions and make comments that take the relationship deeper. Look for ways to hang out, eat together, introduce them to your other friends, etc. As the relationship develops, ask them to come to church, Bible study, or even ask them to read the Bible with you. These are powerful steps on the journey to faith, and the journey of being faithful witnesses.

I hope that in reading this you will have found some ways to better share your faith. I also hope that you will find manageable steps you can take and that you will feel the gap narrowing between what you know and how you live. You might even begin praying for opportunities to share your testimony, invite people to church, and or find a person peacefully interested in your words that you might intentionally spend more time with. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Write out your fifteen second testimony? Ask someone if you can share it with them.
  2. What are key words you will listen for in conversation to know when you can share your testimony?
  3. How would you describe in one sentence the role and importance of the church in your life? Ex: Church has been the key place I have found ____ and ____, and without it I would not have ____ and ____.
  4. Who is someone you are praying would come to know Jesus.