Cuyahoga Valley Church Guidelines
for Writing “Your Story” (Testimony)
God calls us to proclaim what we have seen and heard! A testimony means we profess our faith in Jesus Christ publicly. As you write your testimony, the focus of your story will illustrate God’s work on the cross, how He drew you to Himself, how your heart turned to Him in repentance. Trusting in Christ as your Lord and Savior has given you New Life in Christ. It is import that it is God honoring and that God’s work of forgiveness and redemption are shown throughout the story. It is important that all the glory goes to Him and not ourselves, church, or other people. While those things have all played a role in our journey, they need not be the central focus. We share who Jesus is and what He has done for us. We are to be examples of His love, reign, and work; we are to reflect His light to a dark world. This means we are not to just profess our faith. Rather, to be an effective witness of our Lord, we need to have a well-prepared testimony, and it needs to be written out. In writing out your testimony, you are seeking to point others to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Before Christ: What caused you to start following Jesus?
What were one or two of your unsatisfied deep inner needs before you came to know Jesus? What were your attitudes, needs, and problems before you received Christ? Use an example from your personal life here. Did your security come from money, your relationships, etc? What unsatisfactory solutions did you use to attempt to meet those deep inner needs?
Receiving Christ: Tell us about salvation and your salvation experience.
This part of your Story tells how God’s work begins to become evident in you. Describe the circumstances that caused you to consider Christ as the solution to your deep inner needs. When and how did you first hear about and truly understand the Story about Jesus?
State specifically the steps you took to become a follower of Jesus. Share truths about the gospel – that you realized you have disobeyed God, that you realized that you did not deserve His forgiveness, that you realized Christ died to forgive you, and that you realized your need to receive Jesus to be forgiven and to be changed forever.
What happened when you received Christ? How and why did your attitudes and actions begin to change?
After receiving Christ: Who are you now?
When giving a personal testimony, many people concentrate on the sin they had before they received Christ. However, an effective testimony focuses not on our sin, but on the work of the Holy Spirit in us so that Jesus Christ takes center stage.
State how Jesus filled or is filling your deep inner needs. What has happened since you received Christ? How has your life changed? When did you notice that change? How are you motivated differently now? If there is a particular verse that applies, this would be a good place to use it.
What to Do: Ask God to give you wisdom.
- Make your Story sound conversational, not academic or formal. Be warm and personal.
- Keep to a 4 minute limit. (That’s about 650-700 words.)
What to Avoid:
- Statements that reflect negatively on any church organization or individual.
- Religious-sounding words, denominations, or church names.
- Speaking / writing in a preachy manner. Say, “I” and “me,” not “you.”
- Using vague terms like “joyful,” “peaceful,” or “changed” without explaining them.
- Using religious terms like “saved,” “sin,” or “convicted” without explaining them.
- Communicating that all your struggles and problems have now ended.
- Begin with an attention-getting sentence or incident.
- Be positive, accurate and specific – sharing a few key details will help arouse interest.
- Simplify – reduce the “clutter.” Mention a limited number of people and details.
- Use Bible verses directly related to your experience. But do not use the references. For example, say, “One of Jesus’ disciples said…” rather than writing “1 John 5:11-13 says…” write things just as you would share with someone one-on-one.