When I was a student at the Moody Bible Institute I had a class on Personal Evangelism. One of the assignments was to write our conversion story in Gospel language. Many students were stunned to get a “D” on their conversion story! I think I received a “B” on mine.
Before you scoff at my professor, the point of the assignment was for us to write our story consistent with the Gospel. Most of us had told our conversion story in rather ambiguous language, not in language informed by the Gospel. What? I’ll try again. Our professor was trying to help us interpret our conversion to Jesus through the Gospel.
Still not clear?
Let me try it this way. Many of us describe how we became a believer in Jesus by describing what happened to us; often without even mentioning the Gospel facts, the Gospel response, or the Gospel promises in Scripture. If we want our conversion story to bring praise to God and clearly communicate the gospel to those whom we tell our story, then we need to learn how to tell our story in light of the Gospel.
Before I give some tips on writing your conversion story so you can use it to tell others about Jesus, let’s remind ourselves of the Gospel.
Here are some Gospel basics (I am borrowing some thoughts from John Stott):
(1) The Gospel facts: Jesus died for our sins on the cross; Jesus was buried in the tomb; Jesus was resurrected to show he had conquered the power of sin and death; Jesus ascended into heave; Jesus will come again.
(2) The Gospel call: for us to repent, to turn away from, our sins; and to believe that Jesus death on the cross is the full payment for our sins. To trust Jesus as the One who saves us from our sins.
(3) The Gospel promises: forgiveness of sins, new birth by the Holy Spirit, new community to belong to; and everlasting life in heaven.
A good conversion story ought to share the Gospel of Jesus with others.
In Acts 26:1-29 Paul framed his “testimony” with his past in Judaism (26:4-11), his Damascus road experience with Jesus (26:12-16), and a clear Gospel call (26:17-28).
OK, so here are four things to include when writing your conversion story, so that you use your story to share the Gospel with others.
(1) Briefly describe your life before Christ (family, friends, what you valued most, and your religious perspectives).
(2)Briefly describe what God used to get your attention and show you your sin (people, books, how God’s Spirit convicted you of violating God’s Law).
(3) Briefly tell how you repented and believed in Jesus, be specific (how you came to understand the Gospel, the work of Christ, your need– how you repented and believed).
(4) Briefly describe your life now as a believer (key areas of transformation and forgiveness, how your desires are different, joy of the Spirit, beauty of the Body of Christ, areas you are growing in obedience).
Write out your story in less than 400 to 500 words. Be prepared to tell a thirty second version, and a three or four minute version. Be sure your story clearly presents the Gospel facts, Gospel call, and Gospel promises. Remember, your story is doing two things; telling your conversion story and telling the Gospel message so others can convert too! It’s telling your story AND Jesus’ story, with a view to leading others to Jesus.
A couple more tips. Avoid using more than one verse, and avoid preaching a sermon. Avoid lengthy descriptions about your life in sin; you are giving praise to God for saving you from sin! The shorter the better, this way people can ask questions if they are interested. Always use your vocabulary (avoid being “churchy”), and be true to who you are.
If you write your own story and want some feedback, feel free to email it to me. I love hearing how Jesus and His Gospel has worked in the lives of others!