Posts Tagged random
“First giving honor to God, who is the head of my life. To the pastor, first lady, all the ministers, deacons, mothers, missionaries, saints & friends…”
I’m sorry, you must have thought I was talking about this kind of testimony:
What I really mean is quite different, and its related to my post on Things I Miss About the Black Church.
Giving a testimony in church is one of the most amazing and wonderful expressions of participatory worship you might imagine. Each person that stands to testify gives a song, an inspiring story, shares a prayer request, exhorts the congregation, unburdens themselves from the struggles of the week and allows the whole community of God’s people to laugh with them, cry with them, rejoice with them and yes, sometimes even roll their eyes at them.
It was funny to see the concerns of one group of folks as they prepared for a testimony service that is upcoming. Being reformed, there is of course a great deal of course about maintaining proper order in the midst of it all. One quote:
one testimony service in the past had been billed, at least to the worship leaders, as a “Spirit-Filled Free-for-All.” A few songs were chosen to start things up, and then … whatever. There is something exciting and spontaneous and … all right, authentic about that. I get it. I even like it. But yikes! The Spirit leads us into freedom, but is it freedom for “all”? Freedom to do anything? Does the Spirit work only in the direction of liberation from perceived stricture and structure? Surely this is appealing—especially to young people. But doesn’t the Holy Spirit also work, as in Genesis 1, in the direction of creating order from chaos? Finding true freedom only in slavery to Christ? How do we balance these two?
I find their questions humorous, but understandable coming from their perspective. What if the spirit gets out of control? But it was the next section that made me laugh:
How do we, as a worship team, as musicians, prepare for such a service? Do we choose no songs at all ahead of time? Do we rehearse anything? Do we wait and hope for students to suggest songs that we know? Do we pray for the Spirit to move us in the moment, and move us to play the same song in the same key? What if the Spirit tells us, like that old joke has it, “Oops. You should done more planning.”
And what happens if someone’s testimony turns inappropriate? We can’t control what folks will and won’t say…
Well now that’s just part of the fun of a testimony service. They could perhaps learn from these folks about how to manage a testimony service:
It may be perhaps difficult to understand what’s being said, but the scene in that church is pointedly NOT chaos, and there are rules of engagement that differ a bit from one church to another, but some which are commonly understood. Testimony service has a rhythm and flow all its own. And musicians are just along for the ride.
Allow me to tell you some of these rules:
1) The testimony leader (usually an up and coming fiery preacher, or a missionary, or someone who can keep the crowd going) conducts the service. If there aren’t a lot of people waiting to testify, you can just stand up and start, but if two or three stand up at a time, the testimony leader tells who can go first.
2) The testimony will also shut down the testimony if it goes too long or veers off into “crazy.” They usually do this by at first saying things like, “Amen, Amen. Praise God sister” in a calming voice. They may also interrupt at what seems to be a pause in the testimony and make some remarks before moving on to the next person. If its really bad they will collaborate with the organist to start a praise song to shut you down.
3) The testimony leader may take over your singing of a song if the singing is really bad
4) Your testimony should begin with giving honor to God in some way, acknowledging the leaders of the congregation and the pastor (whether present or absent) and should end with some sort of, “You all pray for me”
5) It is perfectable permissible to lead out in a song during testimony service, especially if you know the words and can sing. but even if you don’t people will try to help you out.
6) Your testimony cannot take longer than about 3 minutes unless it is REALLY good and folks get to dancing and shouting from it. If folks start doing this, then you are not permitted to come back at the end of the shouting session to resume your testimony unless YOU were the one dancing, and then only to give a closing.
I will close with a typical testimony that I might have heard growing up in the Universal Christian Holiness Church (yes, I know our church was the one holy catholic church)
“Praise the Lord saints! Praise the Lord saints! To the pastor, pulpit guest, deacons, missionaries, saints and friends. Truly we give honor to God today for all that he has been to us. Down through the years, God has been good to me. Earlier this week I was thinking back on some times when I thought I wasn’t gonna make it. Thought I was gonna lose my mind. But God! But God! Even this week, he keeps on blessing me, in spite of all the things I’ve done. And I thank him for it. He’s been better than good. You know I’ve been so worried lately; so many people being laid off, and the economy is down. But God continues to provide for me and my family. I think about all the young people running the streets and getting into trouble, and then just this week some of my nephews stopped by the house, and they aren’t doing all that they should be doing, but God has kept them from dangers seen and unseen. They could be out here in the streets, but God continues to have mercy. He’s been so good, I just can’t tell it all. Pray for me saints, as I’m traveling next week that God would give me traveling mercies. And pray that the Lord would help me to hold on until the end. Y’all pray my strength in the Lord.”
Some of you who have followed this blog may remember a rather odd posting some time back wherein I recounted an even odder dream starring Eugene Cho and Wayne Park. Here’s the recap:
In the dream, I and Eugene are walking through what appears to be conference center of some kind, but which really looks like a student center on a college campus. As we walk I am explaining to him something about this “event” that we are apparently both a part of and which I am evidently in charge of coordinating. While walking through we pass by a number of rooms in which various student gospel choirs are preparing themselves for a concert. We also passed by one of my current student who I recognized only from the back of his head, as he was busy studying. Then (this is really weird) we passed by Wayne Park, who I have also never met, but who is sitting with his laptop typing something. Eugene greets him, and I am surprised they know each other, but say nothing as I remember that they do indeed know one another. All the time we’re walking, I keep thinking to myself, “Eugene is a lot shorter than I thought he would be,” and “wow, his hair is really interesting.”
We finally arrive at “the room” where Eugene’s presentation is to take place. It is a very nice room set up amphitheater style with large red very modern sofa type seating arranged in a semi-circle. Eugene comments that it is just like his church, but I am confused because I thought his church met in some other kind of space, but again I say nothing. Of course I’ve never seen his church either. He leaves the room to go get some “equipment,” and I again wonder why he isn’t taller than I thought he would be. My last thought before waking? I really like this room.
Well this dream is a dream deferred no longer as I had the opportunity (nay only a few short moments ago) to actually meet Eugene Cho while he was at a conference in Knoxville. Some of the interesting similarities:
– the conference he was attending was on a college campus
– the conference was in a city in my “territory” (i.e. I could be thought of as “hosting” him)
– Eugene is shorter than I thought he would be (which is weird because I had no idea of his height whatsoever)
– his hair is really interesting
– we ate a restaurant with red chairs
Perhaps I’m a prophet!!!
Anyway… it was great fun meeting Eugene in person. We had some good conversation simply getting to know one another in person as opposed to through the blogosphere and I left the conversation feeling a bit sharpened in my own journey. We discussed some people we know in common, and reflected a bit on the temptations of valuing the appearance of wisdom (or spirituality or depth) over actually being wise. I hope to soon travel to the west coast to take him up on his offer of coffee.
A cold shower has often been recommended as a quick way of dampening the overly ardent passion of young men. As a single man, such advice strikes me as dubious at best, and it is advice that I’ve never taken, at least not intentionally.
Perhaps our Lord believes that I need more encouragement towards good and godly thoughts as my water heater has apparently broken. So now all my water is cold. However, since it broke back in April, and I spent the summer in less than first world conditions, and its hot here, I’ve actually grown accustomed to colder water. Oh how pressing the luxuries of life seem when they first go missing, and how unimportant they are upon further reflection.