Our worship-service on Sunday, 25th April began with the “Parable of the Hidden Treasure” in Matthew 13:44.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
After the worship-service, I had the chance to catch up with one of the previous elders of the church. We had talked about the MAP Toolkit three years ago.
In our previous conversation, he had expressed his interest in the MAP Toolkit and the multicultural response ministry that we are doing. However, our busy schedules in work, family, and ministry hindered us from chatting again and possibly coming up with an action plan.
Anyway, he asked me, “What would be the one tool that you can recommend for our church?”
I told him that five months ago, I had presented the MAP Toolkit to the senior pastor and the associate pastor. After my presentation, the senior pastor asked his associate, what do you think is the one tool we can use in our church. The associate pastor said that the “Testimonies Writing and Sharing Tool” is one she can apply.
My friend said that he had a compilation of testimonies he called “GOLD”, and he got up, excused himself to get the “GOLD” folder of testimonies.
He explained that these are the compilation of testimonies that have been published in the testimony section of the church’s quarterly magazine.
My eyes grew big browsing through the folder. I paused, looked at him and told him that your church is sitting on a goldmine because we can generate heaps of ministries for your church from out these testimonies.
Why are testimonies like a “buried treasure”?
I’m sure that we regularly hear testimonies in the church during worship services, prayers meetings, Bible studies, and other activities.
We all agree that testimonies stir up encouragement, inspiration, healing, prayer, and worship in the church. I believe that most of us would readily welcome and listen to a person sharing about what the Lord has done in his/her life.
Let me ask, with all the testimonies you’ve heard in your Christian lifetime, how many can you recall well?
I’m sure that you can remember well the stories that impacted you. The rest you probably have forgotten.
So, testimonies in the local church become like a “buried treasure” when:
- We tend to set it aside and forget all about it.
- We tend to be selective, remembering only those that impress us.
- We tend to prefer appreciating the testimonies of popular personalities, most of them we don’t know personally.
- We acknowledge its impact and impression on our lives, but we don’t know what to do with them.
- We don’t see testimonies as a vital tool in the ministry
Testimonies writing and sharing as a ministry tool
Well, this is a widespread activity that we always do in the church. We have listed “Testimonies Writing and Sharing” as one of the Ministry Appreciation and Participation tools.
For testimonies to become a concrete tool for Kingdom building, they must be written and shared.
If testimonies have been a buried treasure in the church, then “writing” is the “shovel” we will use to dig them. We celebrate the testimonies by “sharing” them.
Testimonies writing and sharing don’t mean pen and paper and reading.
In this multimedia age, testimonies could be presented through:
- documentary videos,
- and so on.
This is not something new. Many churches are already doing some or even all of the above.
The church could launch a testimony festival, sort of, where testimonies are celebrated. Imagine a concert of testimonies in multimedia forms.
It is IMPORTANT, and we must not neglect to follow up and disciple the people who will decide for Christ after a testimonies celebration event.
Imagine yourself on a long drive to your school break or holiday destination and listening to the music composed from out of the testimonies in your local church.
How about imagining yourself comforting your young child? Maybe your child is sick, worried, and couldn’t sleep. Then you read stories from the storybooks created from the testimonies of people in the church.
The church can even engage in producing short movies and documentaries to celebrate the testimonies.
A critical clarification on using testimonies as a ministry tool
Let me CLARIFY that using testimonies in the pastoral ministry is not substituting the use of the Bible as some pastors have chosen to misinterpret the MAP Toolkit.
Using testimonies as a pastoral ministry tool is similar to having the praise and worship singing band or choir. It is the same as using a sophisticated keyboard or musical instruments to enhance the music ministry.
And we all are aware that the musical instruments, the lights, the band or choir, have been used as tools for ministering the Word of God but never as a substitute for the Word of God.
The same is true with using testimonies or any of the MAP Tools in the pastoral ministry. The MAP Tools are valuable tools for ministering the Word of God, but they are not created nor used to be a substitute for the Word of God.
The implications of using testimonies in pastoral ministry
In John 10:14, the Good Shepherd says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me–” and as a pastor or ministry leader, you would ask, “How will I know my sheep?”
When the church is engaged in writing and sharing testimonies, it encourages and enhances the appreciation and participation of every member.
The pastor will be able to know well the congregation. The congregation will know one another, as well. As a result, there will be closer fellowship and ministering to one another in the church.
The testimonies are a good starting point for a multicultural ministry in the church. Knowing the stories of the people will enable the church to know and appreciate the life and culture of migrants who have come to join the church.
Thus, the pastor and the church will be able to implement a pastoral ministry that relates well with the heart-worship of the migrants.
The testimonies are vital key to another valuable MAP tool, which is the “Faith-Wisdom Discovery” tool.
Pastoring a church using the “Testimonies Writing and Sharing” tool
Really? Can I pastor a church by merely using the “Testimonies Writing and Sharing” tool?
Yes, you can if your understanding of “testimonies writing and sharing” is beyond writing and sharing. You must go many steps further from the traditional way of sharing testimonies: stand, go to the front and speak.
It is also important that your understanding of “pastoral ministry” is not only preparing a sermon and speaking behind the pulpit every Sunday. Pastoral ministry is the pastoral ministry and not pulpit ministry.
For a church in need of pastoral care and evangelism, applying the Testimonies Writing and Sharing tool will enable the pastor and ministry leaders to generate the testimonies in the church and, from out of these testimonies, come up with a continuing program to celebrate these Christian faith stories.
The diagram below illustrates the many possible outputs that the church can produce for using the testimony writing and sharing tool.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: Jadyn Castillon