Ken Gurley, Pearland, TX – We stopped the traditional sharing of testimonies in the main service over 20 years ago. We still use them in small groups, though. We stopped testimony service in the main services because as the church grew, it became unwieldy — people couldn’t hear what individuals were saying from the audience. Also, a few individuals dominated this area of the service and their testimonies became redundant or complaining in nature. Many of the testimonies ceased bringing glory to God. In my opinion, when churches were smaller this vehicle of glorifying God was powerful and impacting. As a church grows, it becomes less possible to emphasize this practice. Perhaps in some instances we have lost something by no longer having this practice. As Paul proved, a testimony can be a powerfully persuasive tool in the right setting. However, for every testimony that accomplished this, many more detracted from glory due God.
Kurtis Burton, Nashville, TN – Many churches in larger cities have become calendar-driven and time conscious, so therefore we do not make time for testimony service outside of a service prior to Thanksgiving or perhaps a New Year’s Eve watch night service, etc. I believe it’s important to give opportunity to express one’s faith in Christ publicly when time allows. We also have fewer services now than years ago in most churches. If anything has been lost, it is the opportunity to give the saints of God a chance to publicly express their faith. We should not want to lose the opportunity for people to speak with excitement for what the Lord has done on their behalf. There is something powerful about speaking aloud on the behalf of the kingdom of God that we do not need to stop.
Maxwell Manley, Salinas, CA – We do not have testimony service; it’s too high a risk of someone using testimony service to hijack the church, such as speaking foolishly with religious jargon but no actual testimony, presuming to publicly chide or correct others thereby being out-of-order, or rambling mind-numbingly long if they didn’t know how to “land the plane.” We likely wised up and realized how ridiculous it usually comes across to guests and how distracting it usually was to stay in the flow of the Spirit. Intentional, limited testimonies that are vetted or those posted on a church website can be great. But a traditional, extemporaneous, “old-time” testimony service? Good riddance. It morphed long ago into the most cringe-inducing and guest-repelling part of many a Pentecostal service.
Isaac Soria, Union City, CA — We still have testimony service. I believe testimony service is an essential part of coming together as a body of believers. The spirit of prophecy works throughout the body of believers, not just the pastor’s sermon. The Holy Ghost can speak through a member during testimony service just like it can through the preacher preaching his message. It can encourage, edify, confirm and supernaturally minister to the congregation as people speak under the anointing. I think we lose something by not having this service. I do wish more would have it. I’ve had to change our format for testimony service. We used to have “open testimony,” but now I pick who gets to testify and call upon them by name specifically, as I feel led by the Spirit. During special services though (holidays, etc.), we often don’t have testimony service.
Paul Pamer, Barberton, OH — Few churches still have a “testimony service” like was so common in the past. In the traditional sense of soliciting volunteers to stand and testify, absolutely not. We do not have traditional testimony services for a couple of reasons. First, we do not feel it puts people in the best position to tell their story of what God has done for them. Second, it can compromise the efficiency of the service. We do, however, have testimonies in our church; we utilize recorded testimonies on video where we put people in the best position to succeed in telling what God has done for them. We also have live testimonies where people are prepared and informed of our expectations. We have lost a lot by eliminating traditional testimony service. We have lost inefficiency, awkwardness, and sometimes embarrassing moments.
Bruce Johnson, Athens, AL — I have somewhat mixed feelings concerning the “old-fashioned” testimony services that were so prevalent years ago. On one hand, I do remember early on in my spiritual walk (my spiritual conversion happened in late 1985) we would have an extended time that was given for people to stand in the midst or before the congregation to “testify of the goodness of Jesus.” I remember having been encouraged and blessed by what I heard. On a side note, I believe when it states in Revelation 12 that “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony,” it is speaking about the times that are afforded to us to share what God has done for us outside the four walls of the church building.
Mark Fogarty, Warner Robins, GA — We occasionally have people give a personal testimony concerning a particular miracle that has happened for them. We eliminated the “testimony service” over 20 years ago due to the misuse of the event. We have lost something by no longer having this practice. The tradition of mature saints sharing what God has done for them in the past has been lost because of the immaturity of others. However, we can accomplish the same thing by allowing the mature to teach. The church is strengthened by testimonies.
John Hanson, Quinebaug, CT — We do not have testimony service in our Sunday morning service. It does not fit our objectives for an evangelistic service. Testimonies fit better in our small groups. I have had many pastors tell me that they discontinued testimonies because often people would use that time to make it all about them. Because we provide an opportunity to share in our prayer groups, I feel the practice is still alive and even healthier.