Every now and then, you can find me sitting in testimony meeting with a note card on my lap and a pen in my hand, tallying the number of times that various phrases are repeated. I started doing this on my mission in a particular ward where Jesus’ name was notoriously absent from testimony meetings, with the exception of the standard closing line.
As I’ve continued this exercise on and off throughout the years, it’s been interesting to watch the trends. I’ve noticed testimony meetings can often develop themes, with one person’s testimony triggering a flood of thoughts and feelings that others in the congregation feel moved to express on the same topic. And of course, the handful of phrases that have more or less become the standardized, expected professions of belief in any testimony are always present as well.
But I’ve found over the years that despite occasional slight fluctuations, the ranking of phrases that get repeated the most often stays pretty much the same. I don’t want to spoil it for you, and I don’t want to bias the results, so I thought maybe we could all take a little homework assignment with us to testimony meeting this Sunday.
When the first person gets up to bear his or her testimony, take out your notecard and, on the left hand side of the card, briefly summarize each point the speaker makes. Then, as each succeeding speaker gets up at the podium, tally the number of times those points are repeated. If a speaker bears testimony on a point that is not already on the list, add it. By the end of the meeting, you’ll have a ranking of which elements of a testimony are expressed most often. Then, come back on Sunday or Monday and post a comment on this thread to Return and Report your results.
One important thing to keep in mind is that you’re not tallying how many times people literally say exactly the same phrases (although that may occur), you’re looking for people expressing the same idea. For example, if one person says: “Jesus is the Christ” and another says “Jesus is my Savior,” that’s basically the same idea, so on my notecard “Jesus is the Christ” would get two tally marks next to it.
Oh, and this is the most important part of the assignment: if you catch yourself feeling uninspired or frustrated by the results you’re compiling, get up to the podium yourself and bear testimony of what you feel most strongly about.
Okay, that’s it. Have a great weekend.