PFL 11: “Morning Boy”
Does anyone remember “testimony time” in church services? No?
Well, it was typically a part of the service when anyone-yes anyone-could spontaneously stand up and “give their testimony”. That is, they could voluntarily tell everyone else, out loud, and without vetting, what God had been doing in their lives, either recently or over the years. Or, they could pray if they wanted, or they could ask for prayer, or they could read some Bible verses that were on their heart, or they could sing a song or share an anecdote with a spiritual application…or almost anything designed to uplift the rest of the church. And uplifting the church was its goal: Biblical, logical, spiritual and cerebral encouragement.
Your experience may be different but from mine, the days of the “testimony time” are long gone. Instead, a small ruling elite dominates the entire service, or at least controls it like some kind of church police force, afraid that anarchy will raise its ugly head and everyone will start thinking for themselves or something even worse.
The elite chooses who gets up front , who directs, and who the stars of the performance are to be: those who’ve been to some kind of training college, those who are paid to perform, those who are young and beautiful and popular….wait a moment-doesn’t this sound a little like the world’s standards for being allowed to take part?
And whatever happened to spontaneity? What ever happened to the leading of the Holy Spirit of God? Yes, I do believe, contrary to some Charismatics, that everything should be done in an orderly way (1 Corinthians: 14:40), but “orderly” and “rigid” are two rather different words.
I know very well, that given the opportunity, some people will stand up and tell their life story, happily taking advantage of the situation, and taking up the entire hour to talk about themselves. I know that sometimes it would be the same guy or the same gal standing up every week, and that most people would rather just keep quiet. I know also that doctrine is important, and that some will use the moment to spout their own un-biblical ideas, or they will begin to “speak in tongues” without anything ever being interpreted and so doing the rest of the church no good whatsoever.
People can be very selfish.
But selfishness in the church is perhaps a symptom of the condition of the church. Perhaps, with more attention to doctrine, to love and to genuine character rather than show, Church gatherings would be an event of fellowship and worship, where:
“…you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged” (verse 31).
Ah, but that would leave less time for the chosen and selected worship team to perform, and less time for the pastor to make his speech and so justify his large salary, and less time for the eye-catching videos. It would make too many people squirm in their seats to think that others around them actually believed this stuff, and spoke about Jesus as though he were really in their lives. It would make the church just so un-cool.
For all the boring “testimonies” and anecdotes and false beliefs and tongues just being spoken into the air (verse 9), I also remember many uplifting testimonies, when people who had a real experience with the Lord of heaven and earth shared it with the rest of us; when men and women who truly shone with the Holy Spirit were allowed to share that light openly; where children and unbelievers witnessed the heart and the words and the light of people who actually believed that God was real.
Ah well, let’s just watch the band groove to another contrived song instead.