“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and how He has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19 ESV)
Soon after I was converted, I learned about the importance of cultivating a thankful heart by telling others what the Lord had done for me. This is otherwise known as “giving a testimony”.
Testimonies that tell about God’s gracious dealings with us may be given on a spontaneous or an individual basis or in terms of an organised and a public forum, such as a public worship meeting.
During our evening services at Eastside Baptist Church we regularly encourage our people to give glory to God for what He has done in their lives. This not only fosters congregational participation in the act of public worship, but it is also a wonderful tool for the encouragement and exhortation of believers. Apart from this it may also be an evangelistic tool by which unbelievers are drawn to Christ.
I would argue that the giving of testimonies should be considered as part of the regulative principle of worship, for it truly a biblical activity. The book of Psalms, the inspired hymnbook of Israel frequently mentions the act of thanksgiving in public worship as a form of public testimony - for instance:
- “I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you.“ (Psalm 35:18 ESV)
- “Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon His Name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” (Psalm 105:1 ESV)
- “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! “ (Psalm 118:1 ESV)
- “All your works shall give thanks to you O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you! They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power…” (Psalm 145:10,11)
- The elders should encourage and instruct the congregation in how to give testimonies. All good things may be abused in the act of worship. The sharing of our testimonies is not for the purpose of promoting ourselves and the rule is that care must be taken that glory will be given to God. Self- centered testimonies kill the spirit of biblical testimony and the elders of the church must jealously guard this act of worship.
- It may be helpful for the elders to tell people to give advance notice in terms of what they intend to say. As a rule, only trusted members should be allowed to testify.
- Brevity should be encouraged.
- An evening service may be a good time to start such a practice.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one
count your blessings see what God has done
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings see what God has done.”