It’s easy to miss that much of the Apostles’ public preaching was just their own testimony! Read through Acts and you’ll see that Paul must have told and re-told his own testimony of conversion at every town and city he went to! Imitating the Apostles, I decided to train my teen leaders to give their testimony as well! This is what happened…
Discover the Power of the Personal Testimony
The purpose of a personal testimony is to present evidence of how Christ became someone real in your life, how Jesus has changed your life. An organized and clear testimony, given in the power of the Holy Spirit, can have a very positive impact on others, especially if they are searching for something similar.
The 3-Minute Teen Testimony
Looking for tools on how to make a testimony, I discovered the “3 minute testimony”. I had seen another youth minister’s teen leaders do these all throughout a retreat. Before meals, before a talk, before prayer, one of the teen leaders would give a 3 minute testimony. One of the girls had taken it very seriously and had spent two weeks preparing for it. She had a great testimony, in fact, not without tears!
I didn’t know what would happen, so I decided to train my teen leaders well. This summer I had 7 High School young men helping me run our summer camps. So they were my “guinea pigs”. I decided that they would give a 3 minute testimony before Mass and then before adoration every day of camp. I thought those were good moments to do so, and it helped the audience of boys recollect themselves before prayer, as well as to listen and think about what was being said.
Since it is short, it is best to revolve it around a moment of “encounter” with Christ, that is, a moment where Christ touched your life. Even though they were only 7 teens, I think I had just about every kind of story. One had a powerful moment, another had a progressive conversion, another told one of his many moments with Christ, another spoke about his discernment of the priesthood, another’s testimony was centered on the fact that he was still growing and learning to give God a shot in his life. They were varied, but that also added to the wealth of experience being shared.
There are three parts to the 3 minute testimony:
- Before: describe your life before your encounter with Christ
- Encounter: describe this moment of conversion
- After: describe how your life has changed
Preparing their Testimony
It was not hard for the teens to think of what they would talk about. I gave all of them a sheet of paper with tips and step by step instructions. Some wrote a lot, but the other half didn’t feel they needed to since it is their life story after all. Below you can download the handout I gave them to help them prepare their testimony:
Before they prepared their testimony, I walked them through it all. I showed them a powerpoint presentation with examples from Scripture, examples from other teens their age, descriptions for each of the three parts of a testimony, and tips on what to write and how to say it. You can download this powerpoint below:
It’s my unfortunate experience that teens do not get excited with powerpoint presentations! However, most of these guys had a positive attitude about it all, since this was part of a 4 day training course so that they could be excellent leaders during the actual camps. They were a little nervous, but in the end I was surprised how open and frank they were and how vulnerable they allowed themselves to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if the testimonies helped my leaders more than the boys listening to them!
I also showed them a YouTube video of a youth minister who does this often. He had prepared a very well done, brief explanation. You can see it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zbvk3EQNWE.
While they prepared their testimony, I went around helping them out. I literally sent each one of them to the far corners of the earth so that they would concentrate! Afterwards, each one of them told their testimony in front of everyone. This helped to get them ready before the campers arrived.
Results and Conclusion
Some were still nervous about giving their testimony, but they all did it. Being in the chapel made the telling of the testimonies more formal, so maybe next time we could get in small circles to see how things change. It was nice to see that the audience clapped after each testimony, even though I had not prompted them to do so! Two leaders’ testimonies went beyond 3 minutes, but that’s mostly because they had really good things to say. Though I didn’t ask for any feedback, the boys in the audience seemed to enjoy listening to them. I made sure to thank each of them for doing this; their example moved me as well! I think many times we stick to reaching teens at the intellectual level, so here we have a tool that can reach their hearts. After listening to 7 well-prepared testimonies spoken from the heart by slightly older peers, it’s my hope that Christ was in turn able to touch at least a few of those boys!
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