Sunday, October 07, 2007

Testimonies and Building Community

At our church part of the process of coming a member is sharing your testimony with the church in our Sunday night prayer time. Since we uphold regenerate church membership and since it is the congregation that will accept people into membership we realized it is important for the body to have the opportunity to hear how prospective members came to faith. Another benefit however is the community building effect of hearing each other's stories. These testimony sharing times have become especially special times. Tonight we had the opportunity to hear the testimonies of 10 people. It was moving and greatly encouraging to hear once more the grace of God in saving and transforming lives. What better way to be reminded of grace, be encouraged and knit your hearts together.

5 comments:

Mark said...

I can't help but comment on the time stamp at the bottom of the post-- 12:44am?

You are either becoming increasingly postmodern or young Timothy is keeping you up! :)

Joel Maners said...

Testimonials is one thing that I have always admired about the Baptist tradition. Of course we can take it too far and elevate experience over gospel,but there is definitely a place and a time for sharing our stories with each other.

Ray Van Neste said...

Your right Mark! - on Timothy.
That's also why the earlier edition has several errors in it- just fixed :)
Sleep is occurring at various times these days!

James Grant said...

That is a good idea for the church. I am curious as to how you handle a situation when someone does not know the point at which they were transformed. Or, as in my case, never knows a point at which I didn't know Jesus. Do you have people that struggle with that when you ask them to do this? If so, how do you help them?

James Grant

Ray Van Neste said...

Good question James.
We seek to be very clear that people's experiences vary. The gospel is central (back to Joel's comment). Yet, everyone must affirm that they believe the gospel. We have many people who mention growing up in a Christian home and coming to faith early, or perhaps not being very clear on when conversion occurred, but they do see tha God has drawn them to himself and they believe.

Knowing how each one came to faith is very helpful. This does not elevate experience over the gospel but affirms that we have indeed 'experienced' the gospel.

What we would say to a person in your situation, James, essentially is that the peopel need to hear that you know that apart from Christ you were lost (regardless of what you can or cannot remember) and that you do trust Christ alone. We are nto seekign to nail down an event but to express to one anotehr how God has been at wrok calling us to himself.

Does that explain it better?