In Preaching to a Post-Everything World, Zack Eswine gives a helpful list of guidelines for testimonies. The list is first-of-all intended for preachers in giving personal testimonies that speak to the shared needs, fears and hopes of the congregation.
- God is the hero Our testimony is a proclamation of God’s excellencies. We are telling forth what HE has done for us. (emphasis cph)
- We show a redemptive vulnerability Our testimony is meant to leave people saying, “What a God!” rather than pitying us. Our vulnerability is mean to exalt Him.
- Our testimonies vary. Testimonies can refer to God’s mercy for our sin (Acts 22:1-21; 26:1-32) or to God’s provision for our circumstances (2 Cor 7:5-7; 12:7-10; 2 Tim. 4:16-18). Let the kind of testimony that you give rise from the text.
- Speak with sensitivity. Not everyone listening is a Christian. Clarify words that may be foreign to someone unfamiliar with the Bible. Children are listening as well. Use age-appropriate description. Remember, understatement can allow for a wide range of age-appropriate understanding.
- Anchor your story with the biblical passage. Only testify to something that exposes what the biblical text is saying. As a living illustration of the text, show the clay jar and exalt the treasure of God’s character and work.
- Turn the mirror. When testifying about our weakness and God’s provision, remember to turn the mirror. As you testify, in essence, you are letting people see your weakness. Then let them see themselves so as to turn to the same grace that you need and that is demonstrated in the exposition of the text. After sharing our weaknesses and God’s provision, we want to add words to the effect, “Now, how about you?”