Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Some churches set aside a time during a service for people to give a testimony. It could be given during the Sunday School time, during Bible Study or during the Sunday Morning Worship Service.
Unfortunately, there is no format or guidelines for the speakers to go by. Some testimonies end up being too long, too detailed, and everything except what they should be.
First of all, what is a testimony? There are many different definitions of the word. However, the definition that pertains to this article is the one referred to in Revelation 12:11, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony."
A testimony is the articulation of one's personal faith. It is the speech, comment, remark, statement, acknowledgment, or public profession of a person's relationship with God.
The words "testimony" and "testify" come from the Latin word meaning witness. When a person testifies, he speaks as a witness of the saving power of Jesus Christ.
What he says is known as the testimony. It is the thing. It is the noun. To testify is the action. It is the verb.
Three Types of Effective Testimonies
It would be a mistake to think a person has to stand up in a church setting to give a testimony. In fact, it is the least effective of the three types of testimonies. A testimony can be given at any place at any time. Actually, some of the most effective ones are those given on the spur of the moment.
- Testimony of a person's LOVE. Showing love to others is a testimony in itself. There are many scriptures that tell us to love, such as "Let all that you do be done in love" (1 Corinthians 16:14).·
- Testimony of a person's LIFESTYLE. A person can give an effective testimony by a changed lifestyle. People notice when one lives a righteous life. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).·
- Testimony of a person's LIPS. The most common type of testimony is the one that comes from a person's lips. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony" (Revelation 12:11).
A person should feel free to use just one of the above examples or more than one. There is nothing wrong if all three of them overlap.
Usually, when a person testifies, he tells how he became a disciple of Christ or how God has been present in his life.
It is a personal testimony about a person's faith and experiences in living the Christian life. If neither one of those is talked about, then it is NOT a testimony.
Things Not to Do
Try to remember not to do the following things:
- Do not introduce your testimony with fillers.
- Do not spend time patterning your personal testimony after those who have given theirs before your turn.
- Do not be long-winded.
- Do not give honor and thanks to the listeners.
- Do not force a testimony if it is not a real one.
- Do not try to outdo others who have given their testimonies. It is shouldn't be a contest.
Things To Do
Try to remember to do the following things:
- Keep your testimony short and simple so others will get a chance to give theirs. A testimony is short and to the point. It is not a sermonette.
- Give your own testimony; not someone else's.
- Tell how you came to know the saving power of Jesus Christ.
- Tell how God is working in your life.
- Be honest and make sure what you testify is actually a testimony and not something else.
- Let the Holy Spirit lead you to say what He wants you to say. If so, you will say exactly what will help others.
Examples of Bad Testimonies
It is unfortunate and sad that some testimonies are described as bad. However, over the years I had heard some bad ones that make me still cringe years later. Look through them and see if you can detect the fallacies.
- A woman stood up in a leadership meeting and gave what she considered to be an effective testimony. She related a recent story about her tire blowing out during a recent road trip. Lo, and behold when she went to get a new tire, the mechanic told her another tire was about to blow out. Knowing she didn't have funds to cover two tires, she wrote a check and it was approved. The attendees clapped and yelled, "Won't he do it." The woman and her listeners considered it an effective testimony, but was it?
- A man stood up in Bible Study one night and told the congregation this his elderly uncle had just died and left him "a piece of money." In fact, it was enough for him to buy a new car. He ended what he called a testimony by saying, "Ain't God good?" The attendees went wild with their applause.
- At the beginning of a church service, a cancer patient stood up and asked if she could give a testimony. The pastor agreed to let her come to the front of the church. She said she had a good report from her doctor. During a previous visit, the doctor had given her some bad news about her diagnosis. The doctor admitted that there was another patient with a similar name, and the bad report wasn't hers after all. It belonged to another patient whose first name was also "Mary." This Mary was excited and said, "God is good." The congregation called out, "All the time, and all the time God is good."
None of the above stories are effective testimonies. Hopefully, you are able to see that something was missing in all of the examples.