"Testimony Sunday" is a catchphrase in our family, based on an experience we had while church-shopping when Jonathan was almost 8 and Ben almost 4. We visited an independent Baptist congregation that friends attended, and happened to come on Testimony Sunday, a three-hour marathon. Interesting how various people see this variously. My wife liked it at first, though began to weary of it as we crossed the 100-minute mark. The friends we were honoring with the visit to their church were mortified: Sue Byrd swore she could see the steam escaping from my ears. Benjamin was initially fine - the Sunday School teachers had released the children, with some annoyance at having been left holding the bag, thank you very much, after 90 minutes, and while most of them were antsy, Ben had found a pile of books and was lying comfortably in the aisle, oblivious to those stepping over him. But at 3.9 years, he wasn't reading at a high level, and exhausted everything in his range and several outside it, in the next hour. At two-and-a-half hours, women were coming up to the microphone for second helpings of testimony giving, and I was growing homicidal.
Jonathan thought this was the coolest church service ever. Having only been to Lutheran services to that point, the idea of church where people would get up and cry and talk about their alcoholic parents and being beaten, going to school in awful clothes, having only bread and milk for food for a week - or alternatively, having husbands that went off for "affairs," - we had covered in our Ten Commandments teaching that "adultery" was stealing someone else's husband or wife, and I think he dimly grasped that something like this was up - and the police coming to your house or being teased at school... well my goodness, this is the most interesting church we have ever been in, Dad. Can we come back next week?
He didn't know from Baptists yet, that next week was going to be lots of scripture memorization and a few choruses of singing "Trust and Obey." Anyway, at Retriever's event
The speaker continued describing how at 15 she had become suicidal and been sent away to some teen center. And then I tuned partially out. Wondering "What are you leaving out?"Yeah, exactly. Your terrible, neglectful Mom that you are kicking up and down the narthex in this testimony - what's her side of this?
It's not accidental that testimonies grew up as a major part of the church culture on the frontier and in the black church, where people were mobile and there wasn't going to be a lot of fact-checking. Christians of my age may remember what happened to Mike Warnke, who had the misfortune to straddle the old fundamentalist culture where people took you at face value and expected the same, versus the new evangelicalism where earnest young college students delighted in doing research about Christian topics.