I’ve made it no secret that I really don’t love the concept of the three-minute-testimony. My angst stems, I’m sure, from a dozen missions trips in which I kept trying to jam my own faith into that prescribed mold and feeling like it never measured up. Of trying to make it pretty and perfect; of trying to make it matter more somehow.
I wrote about all of that in my book, and when my Cru Press friend Neil Downey read it, he noted that organizations like Cru work hard to coach students how to share the story of how God changed their life without going on huge tangents.
And I agree that there’s a legitimate place for that. But I also think that the danger is to make it a formula. A one-size fits all. A neat and tidy thing.
After all, we live in a Pinterest world where the Before and After is emphasized over the messy middle — and yet this is where we live the majority of our faith lives. Trying to figure it out. And in my experience, God is anything but neat and tidy, before and after. He blows into your life and makes a mess of things. And it is beautiful.
So anyway. I’m over at Cru Press today, thinking about redefining that three-minute testimony.Here’s the beginning.
I could tell it to you in my sleep: my “three minute testimony.” The story of how I “prayed the prayer” at age five in my parents’ bedroom after a nightmare about hell.
I’ve written it on two dozen different notecards and carried it with me on several missions trips. I hoped that I wouldn’t be asked to share it in front of a crowd – not because I was ashamed of the Gospel, but because the story felt so disconnected from the life I was living.
I knew it was real, what happened when I was small. I knew it mattered. But it felt strange to make the climactic moment of my story a moment that I could barely remember, a moment that happened ten years in the past.
They said, “Your testimony is just as exciting as someone who’s been to jail! Who’s been on drugs! Who’s been redeemed from the unimaginable!!” And I believed them in theory…but in reality… well, let’s just say that I hoped I wouldn’t be asked to share. [Continue reading here.]