Whenever I speak as a guest, one of the first things I do after giving my name and thanking my hosts for having me is to tell my salvation testimony. Before anyone stands before an audience and opens the Word of God, it is my belief that the presenter should offer his salvation testimony.
As pastors, shepherds of God's flock, overseers of Christ's body, it is vital that our people hear regularly our testimony of how Christ saved our souls. And here are a few of the results you can expect.
1. Your church will become more evangelistic.
We can never expect our people to go out and share their faith if we ourselves are not doing so. If fear, busyness, cultural gaps, and other factors keep us from doing the work of the evangelist, then certainly our people will grow comfortable with ignoring evangelism. A significant part of sharing our faith is sharing our own salvation testimony. As you share your testimony with your people, you will model how they can share their testimony. As they become more conversant with the idea of sharing a testimony, the church will become a more evangelistic church.
2. Your church will be less likely to worship you.
If one thing is clear in post-Christian America, it is that we must avoid a culture that worships pastors. You and I are not the hero, the Messiah, or the Savior. As we share our testimonies with our people, they hear that we are sinners just like everyone else. They hear that it took just as much of the grace of God and the blood of Jesus to save us as it does everyone else.
3. Your church will be more welcoming to sinners.
Similar to the first result, what I mean here is that, as you share your testimony regularly, you create and reinforce a culture where it's okay not to be okay. A main reason people avoid church in our society is that they find us to be highly judgmental. If even the pastor is very open about his own falling short of the glory of God, then how can he or anyone else for that matter raise up barriers to the gospel? Never forget, Christ came to call sinners and not the righteous to repentance.
The beautiful results of sharing your testimony more regularly with your people are many; this just scratches the surface. But for the scope of this post, let's explore how to shape your testimony and equip your people to do the same.
Testimony Part 1: Life Before Christ
Notice that this post assumes you as a pastor actually do have a salvation testimony. Some of the research from the Barna Institute seems to suggest that there are guys in the ministry, leading churches, who do not even have a theistic worldview let alone a salvation testimony. If that's you, I'll never judge you. I will just urge you to receive the Gospel once and for all - the message that you know so well. Anyone can type up a testimony to get into Seminary. But when the storms of life come, only the house built on the rock will remain.
So, as you share your salvation testimony, begin by talking about life before Christ. For some of you that will be, "I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every time the doors were open. But something was missing." For others it will be more like, "I was not raised in church, and I slept around and wasted my life until God broke in and saved me." No matter how sensational your story is, it is your story; and it took the grace of God to save you.
Testimony Part 2: How You Met Christ
Who introduced you to Jesus? Was it a Sunday School teacher? A roommate? A parent? A revival message? Billy Graham? How did you meet Christ? What happened in your heart when you realized that you were a sinner and that your only hope for salvation was the Lord Jesus Christ?
Testimony Part 3: Life After You Trusted Christ
After you share how you trusted Christ as your Savior, talk about the changes that He has made in your life. If you were saved as a child, praise God! You can talk about how His abiding presence in your life has made such a difference. If you were saved as an adult, you can offer examples of the changes that He has made in your life.
I grew up in a Christian home and attended church with my family every time the doors were open. Even though I had heard the Gospel hundreds of times, when I was eight years of age, I asked my parents many questions one Sunday night after church. That night, by my bedside, I prayed to receive Christ as my personal Savior. As I grew older, in my teen years, I rededicated my life to Christ and received assurance of my salvation. I had come to a crossroads as to whether I was going to steer my life myself or surrender the rest of my life to what God wanted for me. When I was seventeen, I surrendered my life to God's call to preach the Word. He has graciously confirmed that call to me over and over again. To God be the glory - great things He has done.
If it's been awhile since you shared your testimony with your people, why don't you share it this Sunday in church? Encourage your staff and groups leaders to do the same. God will bless this in ways you've never even imagined.
Pastor Billy Shaw is a full-time pastor, husband, and father with a passion for helping other pastors.