My name is Tim, and I’m a “digital humanities” researcher in Sweden, looking at the role of new media in journeys in and out of Christian faith. I’m not an evangelist myself, but I have endured a few testimonies over the years – so perhaps I can offer a few thoughts about what makes a story compelling.
Jonathan’s post made some big claims. Nothing more compelling than your testimony? Wow! A testimony is a true story about real people, with an amazing ending. Not bad. If Christianity has a “product” to sell, this is it: the chance to have your life changed by God. If Christian testimony isn’t compelling, then the message is worthless.
But what does it take for testimony to be compelling? I’d suggest four things: honesty, surprise, optimism and audience. The speaker has to convince the audience that this story is true, different, good news, and important to their specific situation. Remember, people who aren’t Christians don’t believe the Christian story and don’t like the message – that’s why they aren’t Christians! The job of the testimony is to get them to start thinking, maybe for the first time, that something entirely impossible and rather unfashionable might actually be the most important and beautiful truth in the world.
So what spoils a testimony? The opposite of an honest, surprising, appropriate story of good news is one that is dishonest, corny and told to the wrong person. A compelling testimony tells the story of a real, believable person, encountering something they find strange, wonderful and impossible to ignore. Think back, past everything you learn in church about “unsaved” people and “proper” testimonies, and remember what that experience was really like. If you can forget the script, get real, and speak to your audience in words they are ready to hear, then you can start telling the kind of story that really does change lives.
He is currently searching for Christians who have used online resources on their journey to faith.If you would like to speak to Tim about your experiences and contribute to his research, please follow the link below for more information: