Testimony Time

testimony“Who would like to share a word of testimony this evening?”

Testimony time in a fundamentalist church is an experience unlike anything one could hope to find in the outside world. It’s equal parts performance art, spiritual posturing, and the kind of long winded delivery that you might expect after mistakenly asking your hypochondriac great-aunt how she’s feeling today. It is, in short, a wonderful and awful spectacle to behold.

Testimony time has many functions. For example, it’s one of a few times when women and divorced folks get to be heard in the church without being accused of preaching. “I’d just like to thank God for the lesson he taught me this week which I’d like to share with all of you. Let me read you a few verses and then after I tell my story I’ll share a poem that I wrote…”

The Biographical testimony is also a popular one usually involving a description of the horrific sin that the teller was involved in “years ago.” The main point to note here is that while some sins are acceptable to talk about in fundy churches (“I used to be such a drunk…”) some are simply not (“I used to be so gay..”).

Another variation of the testimony is the “Bragamony” which is used for establishing the church pecking order by allowing contenders to matching stories of spiritual prowess. In this struggle for dominance, the timing of the testimony is vital. It’s important not to go first lest your story be outmatched by those following and quickly forgotten. Fall into that trap and you may have to postpone until mid-week service with a considerably smaller audience and must less impact.

“If no one else has a testimony to share let’s turn in our hymnbooks…”

Thanks to Mel, Jennifer, and many others who suggested this topic.

14 thoughts on “Testimony Time”

  1. Oooh! FINALLY! 🙂 MY IDEA!

    The best is that there is always that ONE person in the church that you NEVER wanted the pastor to call on. Sadly, even if he/she wasn’t called on, he’d stand up and interrupt to share anyway. even if it wasn’t testimony time!

  2. Testimony time at our church is pretty awesome, usually. Of course every church has 1 or 2 people who always stand up and have something long-winded to say, but that’s a great time to go searching through your purse for some gum or re-arrange the bulletins in your Bible. 🙂

    1. Oh yes, and let’s not forget that grocery list that needed to be done.

      Thinking and staring at the wall…. “Now, what else was it that we needed.” Don’t worry, husband is MORE than happy for you to pass the list to him so he can add the items that he wanted.

  3. Having worked as a secretary in the church office, I remember that when the pastor didn’t have time to prepare a sermon for Sunday night, it always ended up being “Testimony & Favorite Hymn Night”.

  4. lol 1611. There are those REALLY long winded people though where you’re able to re-arrange you’re bulletins, figure out which ones to throw out, look for gum, pass a note to 3 people asking for gum, read through all the old notes you’ve written in your bible, and play a few hymnal games… lol

  5. Yes Trina, I know. 😉 God bless these people… they’re usually the ones who have the most to brag on the Lord about. Of course, it involves going back to 30 years ago and re-capping everything that’s happened till now… but at least they’re praising God. 🙂

  6. It’s always about their personal story of salvation, and after the 20th time of hearing the same story you just grin and bear it. The pews are so dead and so few people are actually talking to sinners it becomes an in house game, my story is better than yours.
    What a shock if someone would actually get up and tell about how they met someone and took them to dinner several weeks ago and how the Lord is allowing a real friendship to blossom. That person seems to be very angry at Christians and the one testifying requests prayer that they can be a “real” Christian to them. (without some one asking the Phil Kid question… “have you given them the gospel, before it is too late and they are decapitated in a horrendous car accident!” Give ’em the gospel even if it runs them off and you lose them as a friend but make sure they pray the prayer!”) Zeal without wisdom.

  7. I usually preferred testimony time to the droning of the MOG. I actually enjoy hearing folks talk about the Lord, and what he is doing in their lives, but ever notice how often it devolves into thanking God for finding this church, the only one this side of the Mississippi teaching the “true” gospel and then talking and complimenting the MOG and his wife more than the Lord Jesus Christ. Hay – Man!

  8. Our pastor used to say our testimonies needed to be CBS:


    They were usually anything but. It was always painful and awkward to sit and listen to the silence as we waited for someone to get convicted and testify.

    1. A Good Testimony should be like a good speech:
      good beginning
      good end
      keep them as close together as possible

  9. A testimony is nothing more than a public confession of sin (the better ones have to involve sex and drugs) followed by finding Christ (absolution and salvation).

    I think the Catholics have the better idea–confessing in private.

  10. I disliked testimony time not so much for the reasons above but that I couldn’t HEAR them. They were so stupid in that church, though they had a cordless microphone, they never used it. What’s the use of having testimonies if half the congregation couldn’t hear them because they were seated too far away from the soft spoken speaker? You can’t receive a blessing from something you can’t hear. Somehow, the pastor, no matter how far he stood from the speaker, clearly heard and understood every word, therefore he expected everyone else could. It was so frustrating! 👿

  11. Oh yea.

    I think of the extremely overweight lady with the skinny submissive husband who whould stand up if she could to tell us about the marvelous grace she’s seen towards her wayward children is Nantucket who are not living for the Lord then how her physical problems are causeing her grief and that she wishes she could lose the weight but can’t because it is a physical problem and has nothing to do with eating because it’s physical and she can’t do anything about it.

    Further, the moG tells (in private between “you, me and the fencepost.”) how he believes she is a bad testimony because she is so fat and undisciplined.

    So goes the testimony time.


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