Several years ago I was at a family therapy conference, where a therapist was talking about how he dealt with “stuck” people. In short, he would ask a stuck couple to take another couple under their wing, telling them how therapy is beneficial and how it has changed their lives.
The act of such testimony was that it changed both couples. The secret sauce in this interaction was the saying out-loud how therapy improved relationships and life.
The family therapy technique, it turns out, has many more applications. People who talk about what they believe and how it benefits them are also shaped by that testimony.
In typical church hierarchy, the responsibility for ‘telling’ and testimony often falls to the clergy and staff. Ownership of faith falls to the professionals, but in so doing we overlook a great opportunity for growth. It is in the stretching of spiritual muscles that faith grows strong, and there is no shortcut for this process. Mere observers do not progress at the same speed and fashion – sometimes not at all.
When we announced weekly communion at the birth of our church, there was a low rumble from our core team of “won’t that get boring?” “No,” we told them. ” You are going to be responsible for the weekly ceremony.” Ten years ago we began this practice which our members announce is their favorite thing about worship.
In the beginning, these “table talks” often took a direction that was a departure from the Lord’s Supper and the cross of Christ. But as our members became more attuned to the significance of the Lord’s Supper, so did their brief weekly talks. And their faith grew in proportion.
What they gained in wisdom and insight would have taken longer to teach apart from this experience of testimony. Like the family therapy couple, you come to believe more deeply what you talk about with conviction. It is not uncommon to go home saying to my wife something like, “Where did that come from,” because that day’s table talk was so powerful and convicting.
Our folks are not the only ones changed in this. I, too, have changed the way I think about growth and maturity, now believing that giving folks opportunity to stumble through their testimony is vitally important for a future of doing that automatically in work and play.