Asked to share a testimony, many CRC members might say this: “My faith story is pretty boring. I grew up in a Christian family, and we went to church every week. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t believe.”
We’re used to thinking of faith stories as before-and-after conversion accounts. In reality, our entire lives are filled with stories of God at work. Learning to recognize and share those stories is a spiritual exercise that comes with great blessings, both for ourselves and for others.
Here are some ways to identify and shape the faith stories that are yours to tell.
Faith timeline. On a piece of paper, draw a line. Divide that line into segments that each represent five years of your life. On your timeline, mark important faith milestones like baptism and profession of faith, life milestones like marriage or birth of a child, answers to prayer, and more. Look back, giving thanks for how God has worked in all circumstances. Creating this timeline is an excellent prompt for identifying faith stories that you can tell others. Here is one example of a faith timeline.
Three-minute faith story. Incorporating short testimonies during worship is a powerful way to grow a storytelling culture in your church because these testimonies are simple and very public. Three minutes (or 400 written words) is a good time limit. The pastor or worship leader should meet with the person ahead of time to go over his or her written story. Read this story from Syd Hielema on how his church has been blessed by three-minute testimonies.
Interview. Use our list of story starter questions to help someone identify important stories in their walk with God. NPR’s StoryCorps initiative provides a great model for interviews.
Video story. Set up a videocamera and ask the interviewee questions that encourage him or her to tell faith stories. See our list of story starter questions. Here's a great video example of an elderly Christian sharing memories and a testimony. This video is professionally produced, but you could make effective informal videos as well. Here's another example of a beautiful video story that shares one couple's adoption story and how it helped them grow in faith as they followed God's leading.
Testimony with PowerPoint. Using PowerPoint is a great way to illustrate a testimony, especially when presenting it to a large group. See this example of a very moving testimony accompanied by PowerPoint slides. This story was told by Darren Brouwer at a chapel at Redeemer College.
Online submissions. Inviting people to submit their stories online provides the opportunity to gather both text and photos or videos. See how West Ridge Church gathers and shares people’s stories online.
Story-crafting workshop. Ask a writer or storyteller in your congregation to lead an interactive (and possibly intergenerational) workshop on how to tell a compelling faith story or testimony.
Art expressions. Consider organizing an intergenerational art show inspired by the theme of faith stories. Perhaps an artist in your congregation could offer a workshop on telling your faith story through art.
If you want to become a better public storyteller, check out these tips from The New York Times. Pastors, youth leaders, and teachers may find this particularly helpful.