I’ve been listening to some podcasts from various different churches in the United States as I exercise. (Read: 6 Steps to Get your sermons recorded again to see a cheap and easy way to make them available on line.)
One key feature that I’ve observed in the podcast of these growing churches is the regular appearance of some kind of life-changing testimony.
- Why someone started to follow Christ.
- Journey to baptism
- Celebration of baptism.
- Celebration of new members.
- Stories of how program / preaching series made a difference.
With each one of these testimonies, the pastor affirmed the congregation and reinforced the values of personal and corporate evangelism.
This brings me to Key #2 in our series: 5 Ways a Pastor can raise the Evangelistic Temperature of the Congregation.
Key #2: Testimonies of Life Change
In these podcasts, the pastor gave some of sermon time to let people tell their own story.
I listened to them and made the following observations.
1. Testimonies were brief.
Some were given by video, some were given live.
It is clear that the videos were edited to tell the story in a compact form, and likely the individuals were coached in how to tell their story in a few minutes. Many people are nervous giving any kind of talk, so some intentional preparation of live speakers likely was made.
2. Testimonies were on topic.
If the sermon series was on acts of grace, the story was about an act of grace that transformed a life.
If the sermon was on prayer, the story was how someone experienced an answer to prayer, often through the anonymous involvement of a church member.
3. The pastor congratulated the congregation.
For our purposes, this is the most crucial point.
These stories are the fruit of the congregations evangelism efforts.
When the testimony was over, the pastor would say something like: “Isn’t that awesome to see how God . . . . ” Often there was some spontaneous applause of thanksgiving.
Then the pastor helped the congregation see it’s role in that person’s story and then praised them for cooperating with God, praised them for their invitations, praised them for serving and answering prayer.
Those words of affirmation continue to reinforce the role of all aspects of evangelism – the fruit of the labor.
Two particular celebration events come to mind.
As individuals come to faith in your church, let them tell their stories.
Baptisms are a memorable time to tell stories.
People can see and celebrate life change. People can partly identify with stories of others walking through the same circumstance.
Celebrating Baptisms can be a great time to remind your church of the role they played in God’s work.
2. New Member ceremonies.
If your church does those publicly, these can be another time of highlighting the transforming grace of Jesus Christ.
Since I do a lot of thinking about hospitality and welcome issues, I often learned before hand why did these new members choose to stay. Invariably, one key factor was how they were welcomed as a church visitor.
This would be a time to congratulate the congregation on doing a good job on welcoming the visitor.
- Look out over the next 6-10 weeks of your preaching schedule.
- Are there baptisms / new member events scheduled?
- Do you need to organize such a celebration?
- Look out over your next preaching series or two.
- Are there people in your congregation that are growing in an area of your preaching topic whose story would make for a good testimony?
- Schedule a testimony that is related to your topic.
- Work with your video team to get a story, or work with the person to tell their story.
March 6, 2010 we’ll be celebrating 4 adult baptisms!
We’re turning it into a big celebration of God’s work of redemption.
Stay tuned for the next part in our series,
5 Ways a Pastor can raise the Evangelistic Temperature of the Congregation.
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