What comes to mind when you think about someone sharing their testimony? It reminds me of the panic I felt at a youth camp when we were asked to share our testimony with the person sitting next to us. For some, it may remind you of a formal speech-like event from the stage of a church on a Sunday morning. Polished language, emotional stories, horrific hardships, sin struggles, and all sorts of other images make up what we think about when it comes to testimonies.
There may be a more helpful picture to describe testimonies though. The simplest picture of a testimony is that of a person on a courtroom witness stand. In the Bible, a testimony involves a person bearing witness to something that happened. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea, and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”. Later in chapter 4:19-20 when John and Peter were on trial for spreading the Gospel, they were “on the stand” and said “whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; For we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” When you think about it, a witness on the stand in a courtroom really does only one thing: tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth about something they saw, heard or experienced. Simply tell the truth.
As parents, we can move our testimony from the courtroom into the living room. Sharing your testimony means telling the truth about what we have seen God do, how he has revealed Himself to us, and how He has changed our life. Through sharing with our children, we can explain who God is and what Jesus has done for us while also sharing and growing in an intimate relationship with them. In other words, our Gospel Testimony is a way that we can allow our children to look through a window into our faith, while also keeping the Gospel at the center of our families. When sharing your testimony with your children of any age, here are a few things to consider.
Keep it Simple
When it comes to sharing with children, the simpler the better. One lie many parents believe about sharing their testimony, and the gospel as well, is that it has to include every possible detail and poetically beautiful language. Simply tell the truth. For example:
- Use simple language. Use language that is helpful and clarify as much as possible. For younger children, using words like salvation or even saved can be confusing. Instead, talk about God loving you, or what God has done in your life. For older children as well as younger ones, you may want to take time to define words. For example, you may know and understand what sin is, but your child might only partly understand. Use your testimony as a time to define any spiritual or biblical words.
- Practice long and short versions. A beautiful reality is that testimonies do not have a minimum or maximum. The story of how you were saved may take much longer than a testimony about something God is teaching you this week. Again, a testimony is not a performance but simply telling the truth. It may be helpful to write out a short testimony, that may only take a few minutes, and practice a long form that can become a conversation over many opportunities.
- Make it conversational. Testimonies can be, and with children at times should be, conversational. Allow Children to ask questions. You can ask if your children understand what you’ve said, but you can also ask questions about how they would respond in your shoes, or perhaps even if they understand how you felt at various times in our Christian journey. By making testimonies conversational, children will not just be informed but invested in what God has done in your life and what He can do in their life as well.
Use a Gospel Framework
You can share your testimony using a gospel framework in several ways. Use the stages of the gospel story to help share the ways that Jesus has loved you. For example
- Creation: Share how God has created you and the purpose He has for you. Share how you find your purpose and meaning, to worship, obey, and be in a relationship with God forever, through Jesus.
- Fall (Sin): It is difficult, and the specifics may vary depending on how old your child is, but confessing to your children that you still struggle with sin is an amazing opportunity to show that Jesus is greater than you are. It’s a way to show that the only perfect person is Jesus and that He alone can help us. And, it is an invaluable way to teach our children that “This statement is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance; Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the worst of them” in 1 Timothy 1:15.
- Redemption (Jesus): This one includes the Sunday School answer, but Jesus really is the answer. Tell your children about who Jesus is, what He has done for you, how He continues to love you and them, and how He is the only way back to God.
- Restoration: Tell your children what God is calling you towards. God didn’t send Jesus just so we would avoid hell. Share with your children how He is shaping you into the image of Jesus. Tell your children how you are not perfect, but God is sanctifying you into Christlikeness. Through this, our children will see there is hope even as Jesus loves us and works through and after our mistakes. Give children eternal hope in the final Kingdom, with God, forever.
Remember your testimony is ultimately about God
Though we are sharing about our personal lives, the focus should be on Jesus. No two testimonies share all the same details, but if they are true testimonies, then they will share the same Savior. As parents, let’s use all of our lives in an effort to make Jesus known to our children, families, community, and world.