For 10 years prior to joining the Worship and Music staff at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board I served as the Minister of Music at First Baptist Church Duluth, Ga. My pastor and I worked weekly with a Worship Planning Team to develop creative times of worship with our congregation. One of the items we wanted to include on a regular basis was the opportunity for church members to share what God was doing in their lives. However, when we allowed this to happen without any guidelines most individuals rambled along giving their life story and taking far too long. So, we decided it was time to put together some guidelines for those that we enlisted. We insisted that these be limited to 3-5 minute presentations. I hope you will find these helpful. Please feel free to adapt them to meet the needs of your local congregation, but most of all, remember that your people need to be able to share how God has changed their lives every day! Let their voice be heard! Here are the guidelines we used:
Before you ever start…STOP! That’s right…STOP, and pray. Give this to the Lord. Ask His help. He helped you when you were blessed with the subject of this testimony. Now, He will help you to prepare, practice, and present this testimony–the public report of His blessing–to His glory.
1. “It’s not about you and your specific situation, but it’s really ALL about Jesus and His love.” The purpose for giving this testimony is to bring glory and honor to God in Christ for what He has done in your life. People want to share the excitement of the blessings of God in the lives of those who obediently follow and call upon Him. He blessed your life. That’s what we need to hear. Pray for clarity of thought so that the testimony is what God wants to be said not just what we think needs to be said. Break up your five minutes into three parts:
Part #1: Spend about two minutes sharing the challenge you faced. Describe the
squeak in your wheel. Be as clear and specific as you can without any
gory or repulsive details. Everything you say should be rated “PA”–
Public Appropriate. Never glorify the problem. Save that for Jesus!
Part #2: Take a minute to share how you encountered Jesus and what meeting
Him in the midst of your challenge meant to you. Describe how Jesus put the
grease of His love on your squeaky wheel.
Part #3: Finish up by using your remaining two minutes describing the difference
this encounter has made in your life and relationships (with yourself, with
others, with the Lord). Clearly describe the difference in your life
since Jesus applied His “love” grease to your pain/challenge/ difficulty.
2. “Give me a K.I.S.S.” The Preacher received a hand scribbled note from his wife just before he stood up to preach. On the outside of the note she had written “K.I.S.S.” which indeed fired him up. Pleased as he could be, he opened it to read the sweetness from his bride. It read, “Keep It Short Sweetie.” Good advice. You can’t tell all of what God has done in, for, and through you in five minutes. Therefore, tell: what He has done for you recently, tell it clearly, tell it as a praise to Him for what He has done, and tell it with hope in that He can do the same for others who might be facing the same challenge. As an early step in all this, write out completely what you want to say. Now, re-write it. Clarify it. Then condense it to an outline of the major points. Go from there.
3. “Practice makes perfect.” It may not be perfect. Later on you may look back and wish you had said “this” or “that.” But whatever you say when you give your testimony this time needs to be practiced, practiced, practiced, and (you guessed it) practiced again… out loud, in front of a mirror, then in front of a trusted friend or two, always wearing the shoes you will wear when you give the testimony in church. Use that time to polish the details. Take the notes into the pulpit with you when you speak. By that time you probably won’t even need them, but they will comfort you. Stick carefully to what you prepared and practiced.
4. “NO other names, please.” Other people have most likely been used by God to bless your life, expand your world, inspire your faith, hold you up, and help keep you on the right path. It is best to refer to them as “my friend(s) here at the church” OR “my faithful brother/sister in Jesus” OR “my Sunday School class that helped me so….” Even if they gave you permission to call their name, it most often lessens the power and potential impact of the testimony.