During the first few weeks, every discipleship group should spend time letting each person share their testimony. Don’t skip this step even if your group includes people you feel like you already know well. There are at least three significant reasons this is a must for your group.
- Sharing your story is a great place for you, as the leader, to begin the process of opening up and being vulnerable about sin or other struggles in your life. The simplest and clearest way to share your testimony (with your group, or even better, with a neighbor, coworker, workout partner, etc.!) is to tell what your life looked like before Christ, how you came to know Christ, and what your life looks like now with Christ in it. Talking about your life before knowing Jesus shows your group that you’re just like them and sets the tone for vulnerability.
- Common ground is always found in this process. Testimonies are the perfect way for your group to get to know one another and find common interests right off the bat. Undoubtedly, when everyone tells their story it will give a boost to the process of becoming friends.
- Every Christian needs to know how to share their testimony and a discipleship group is a perfect place to practice that, maybe even for the first time.
But if you have been discipling long enough you know that testimonies do not always go as planned. Sometimes you will find that either their communication needs some real polishing or their story makes you question whether or not a person is truly saved.
Those situations could tempt you to just let it go and move on, or throw up your hands and lose interest in the group because they aren’t where you thought they were spiritually. Let me encourage you, both of these scenarios are huge opportunities for you as a leader. Don’t back away, press in.
First, have your group members actually write out their testimonies in the format we mentioned earlier. That way when you offer critique on how to improve you can literally point to sentences or sections and they can take notes right then and there.
Second, if you don’t hear the Gospel in someone’s salvation story there should be sirens going off and red flags waving in your head. This requires a conversation outside of the group to hear them tell their testimony again. Then you can either help them communicate better or show them things about the Gospel they do not fully understand. Don’t let it surprise you if you actually lead someone to Christ in the process! That’s a wonderful scenario!
Third, once the group has all shared (and you’ve gotten any potential salvation wrinkles ironed out) encourage everyone to practice what they’re learning and tell their testimony to someone else. This will likely be the first time many of them have shared the Gospel with anyone ever so be sure to hold them accountable!
You cannot overstate the value of having a clear, concise testimony in your spiritual tool belt. Don’t be discouraged when testimonies reveal your group may have more room to grow than you initially thought. Testimonies might just become the first big breakthrough your group experiences together.