In high school I played tight end on the football team. When I scored a touchdown, my mother started praying that I would get to handle the ball more often. And that’s about the time the coach called me and moved me to center. When you’re a center you touch the ball on every play. I told Mom that she overdid it.
After the quarterback called the play in the huddle, I trotted to the line and my first job was to see that the football was laces up. If any laces were broken, I knew I had to stop the game and get a new ball. When I hiked the football, the quarterback used the laces like grips to make solid hand-offs and throw accurate passes. Broken laces meant fumbles.
We don’t need broken laces when sharing Christ. Each lace is there for a purpose. The football is held together with laces and your testimony is also held together with spiritual laces. If one is broken, then handing off the gospel can be fumbled.
Here are some examples of broken laces:
“I went to church and got saved.” [Does going to church save you?]
“That preacher was powerful and I walked out a changed man.” [Did the preacher change you?]
“I wasn’t living right, so I decided to get baptized.” [Does baptism save you?]
“Well, I got saved and then my brother got saved.” [What does saved mean?]
James F. Engel is credited with identifying steps a lost person goes through when coming to Christ. Think of football laces as each step on the Engel Scale. Engel numbered each step starting at -8 for being far from Christ and a zero for the moment of conversion; regeneration and justification. Positive numbers to +3 identified first steps for new believers; sanctification.
Think about your own conversion story. Where did your journey of faith begin? People who have heard this usually begin at recognizing that God exists or that people could live as followers of Jesus. They may even say that the Holy Spirit convicted them of their sin. Some used Bible knowledge through stories and verses that were important to their salvation experience to move the lost person through the laces.
Each lace helps you tell your story down to the realization that you needed to pray and ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Southern Baptists believe that repentance and belief are inseparable experiences of grace.
After conversion, immediately describe how you obeyed Jesus by following His example in baptism by immersion. Then you can describe other things you did because of being spiritually transformed, including sharing your faith with others.
Now, take another look at the football. There are two stripes on each end of the laces. Keep your testimony short before getting to the fat part where the laces are. And keep the part before Christ family-friendly, okay? Some describe sinning with so much gusto everyone is given downright sinful ideas to try!
And on the other end of the football, it’s small, too. Tell people what your life has been like since following Jesus, but keep it short. They have been watching you!
By the time you give your football testimony, you should be able to look a person in the eye and ask in love, “You’ve heard my story, would you like to do the same?” All the steps to salvation should have been included in your story. Pray with them a prayer of repentance before God because of what Jesus did for each of us. Then follow-up.
Most evangelism plans encourage you to limit your testimony to three minutes. Using the football model, 30 seconds is your life before, two minutes cover the steps you took, and 30 seconds is your life afterward.