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Is it time to end Testimony meetings?

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I’ve long been quite cynical about fast and testimony meeting. I should also point out that I was quite cynical about home teaching, Boy Scouts, and the three hour block. But in each of those cases they replaced it with something better. (Well, still waiting on the new YM program, but I have high hopes.) So maybe there is something better that can replace f/t meeting. I’m not sure what that might be. Any ideas?

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The Church will never eliminate F&T meeting because "Church sleep is the best sleep."

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There’s a functionality component to this, also, as it puts greater burden of planning on a bishopric member and more speakers being called, when that day could otherwise be the “monthly fast” from such endeavors.

I think if there is any policy, it would be that only members of the local congregation may share their testimony, but I still couldn’t see that happening. I also can’t count how many letters SL has sent out regarding children bearing their testimonies elsewhere besides F&TM, but nobody really seems to care. One thing that could possibly shake my testimony is if F&TM was replaced with a break-out session where you discuss with your neighbor. That would be the day that the priesthood authority will hang by a thread.

Slightly off-topic, but I was beginning to think of scenes from movies that could basically stand-in for a testimony that, should someone get up and basically recite the scene, we wouldn’t miss a best. The first that came to mind was Dr. Evil’s “the details of my life are quite inconsequential” speech.

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10 minutes ago, Judd said:

I also can’t count how many letters SL has sent out regarding children bearing their testimonies elsewhere besides F&TM, but nobody really seems to care.

The only children in our ward to share their testimonies in sacrament meeting do so of their own accord and unaided. They are some of our best testimonies, and they're always very short, usually on a single point.

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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

she went on & on probably a good 15 minutes,

A bit too long. 😊

A lot of people seem to loose track of time easily when they're at the pulpit.

 

 

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hahaha...when I was in the USAF stationed at Hill AFB in Layton, Utah....from 1979-1983....Star Wars  was HUGE!!   Two of my boys were 7 & 8 at the time and LOVED Star Wars.  Well, this one F&T meeting was going good....those two aforementioned boys were doing what boys do...aggravating each other when they were not fighting for the best sleeping spot in the pew...anyway, that all changed dramatically when a woman in her mid 30's in the pew behind us ...stood up and began speaking.

Well, this very soft spoken and articulate woman gave a heartfelt testimony..then at the end told us that she had a very important announcement to make.  She then proceeded to talk about the recent Star Wars movies (boys now sitting up straight in pew listening attentively) and how she felt they had strong Gospel parallels etc.  She then announced to the Ward that from that moment on she was changing her name to, and wanted to be referred to as "Obi Wan Kanobi".  My boys looked at me with a "saaaaaay whaaaaat?" look on their faces...I was trying not to laugh.  I quickly looked up at the Bishop who was trying hard to find a comfortable sitting position (squirming back and forth).    

When we got home from Church that day I remember having one of the most enjoyable and engaging discussions with my children about how much fun Church can be....and why you never want to miss a single Sunday!

 

Edited by randy
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I would like to say though...that over the years Fast and Testimony meetings have been allowed to become something less than what they are supposed to be.  As mentioned..the Travelmonies,  a seemingly endless line of Primary Children waiting their turn (this is Great, but it's much more appropriate to encourage them during Primary).  As I mentioned in another thread a few days ago...the F&T mtg's in my Ward now are awesome!  Not the same people,  no feeling to rush to the podium to fill in time if more than 60 seconds goes by without someone being prompted to share etc.   These last two were wonderful, spirit led...honest and evoked very powerful feelings and emotions, and they were focused on Christ and gospel principles.  I left being very much uplifted and edified.

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I’ll be honest fast and testimony meeting is my least favorite day.

but if it was gone then I would be sad.

 

 

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10 hours ago, Judd said:

There’s a functionality component to this, also, as it puts greater burden of planning on a bishopric member and more speakers being called, when that day could otherwise be the “monthly fast” from such endeavors.

I think if there is any policy, it would be that only members of the local congregation may share their testimony, but I still couldn’t see that happening. I also can’t count how many letters SL has sent out regarding children bearing their testimonies elsewhere besides F&TM, but nobody really seems to care. One thing that could possibly shake my testimony is if F&TM was replaced with a break-out session where you discuss with your neighbor. That would be the day that the priesthood authority will hang by a thread.

Slightly off-topic, but I was beginning to think of scenes from movies that could basically stand-in for a testimony that, should someone get up and basically recite the scene, we wouldn’t miss a best. The first that came to mind was Dr. Evil’s “the details of my life are quite inconsequential” speech.

I have always wanted to recite the “John Galt” speech from “Atlas Shrugged” speech to see how far I could get before being asked to sit down.

9 hours ago, JLHPROF said:

Brigham Young-

"I would rather hear men tell their own experience, and testify that Joseph was a Prophet of the Lord, and that the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and other revelations of God, are true; that they know it by the gift and power of God; that they have conversed with angels, have had the power of the Holy Ghost upon them, giving them visions and revelations, than hear any other kind of preaching that ever saluted my ears."

The crazy old lady I knew who got up every month to talk about how the angels had rearranged the mirrors in her bathroom again did not get the kind of respect President Young presumably would have given her.

1 hour ago, randy said:

hahaha...when I was in the USAF stationed at Hill AFB in Layton, Utah....from 1979-1983....Star Wars  was HUGE!!   Two of my boys were 7 & 8 at the time and LOVED Star Wars.  Well, this one F&T meeting was going good....those two aforementioned boys were doing what boys do...aggravating each other when they were not fighting for the best sleeping spot in the pew...anyway, that all changed dramatically when a woman in her mid 30's in the pew behind us ...stood up and began speaking.

Well, this very soft spoken and articulate woman gave a heartfelt testimony..then at the end told us that she had a very important announcement to make.  She then proceeded to talk about the recent Star Wars movies (boys now sitting up straight in pew listening attentively) and how she felt they had strong Gospel parallels etc.  She then announced to the Ward that from that moment on she was changing her name to, and wanted to be referred to as "Obi Wan Kanobi".  My boys looked at me with a "saaaaaay whaaaaat?" look on their faces...I was trying not to laugh.  I quickly looked up at the Bishop who was trying hard to find a comfortable sitting position (squirming back and forth).    

When we got home from Church that day I remember having one of the most enjoyable and engaging discussions with my children about how much fun Church can be....and why you never want to miss a single Sunday!

 

My favorite fast and testimony meeting was on my mission. A lady would get up every month and give a 15-20 minute report on her incredibly dull life. One day as she got up and had started speaking a little girl (probably around four years old) stood up on the pew and stuck out both her arms in front of her to give two thumbs down and in a long and loud outburst of sound expressed her feelings: “BOORRRRRING!” She was shorter then usual. I made a point of giving her candy every week after that going forwards. Even little children shall be given words that shall confound the dull.

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Yes, I realize that, just as the Gospel net gathers various kinds of fish, the "net" of fast and testimony meeting gathers many kinds of testimonies from those fish, some more appropriate to sharing in that setting than others.  Yes, I realize that some may tire of the constant reminders of what the components of a genuine testimony should be (perhaps the leaders who give those warnings tiring most, and most quickly, of all).  Yes, I realize that many may tire of hearing "testimonies" which veer into non-testimony territory.  Yes, I realize that even genuine, sincere testimonies, as verbalized, may seem rather repetitive at times (though I might ask, are we so busy focusing on the repetition that we miss what the Spirit is trying to tell us individually, the message that transcends the "boring" words being spoken?).  And yes, perhaps most of all, I realize that any "open mic" situation carries with it the risk that a given meeting may be hijacked by anyone with an agenda.

But I think, all of those caveats notwithstanding, that what we would lose by not allowing the "tail" of supposedly-boring, repetitive testimonies, of off-topic, ersatz testimonies, or of meeting hijacking to wag the "dog" by eliminating testimony meeting completely is not worth what we would gain by not having to worry about these things.  https://www.lds.org/topics/testimony?lang=eng#_

 

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16 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

We could go to a by-invitation-only arrangement, with a member of the bishopric inviting individuals to come to the pulpit to express themselves. 

Our Bishop does that now if our other Sacrament meetings run short.

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5 hours ago, mnn727 said:

Our Bishop does that now if our other Sacrament meetings run short.

I’m talking about an arrangement whereby people still volunteer to speak but are required to put their names on an advance list that can be screened before the meeting starts so as to avoid ambushers and hi-jackers. 

This would not be an optimal solution but may be preferable to allowing the would-be hi-jackers to force the discontinuance of testimony meetings as an alternative to allowing them to spew their venom from the pulpit. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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6 hours ago, Kenngo1969 said:

Yes, I realize that, just as the Gospel net gathers various kinds of fish, the "net" of fast and testimony meeting gathers many kinds of testimonies from those fish, some more appropriate to sharing in that setting than others.  Yes, I realize that some may tire of the constant reminders of what the components of a genuine testimony should be (perhaps the leaders who give those warnings tiring most, and most quickly, of all).  Yes, I realize that many may tire of hearing "testimonies" which veer into non-testimony territory.  Yes, I realize that even genuine, sincere testimonies, as verbalized, may seem rather repetitive at times (though I might ask, are we so busy focusing on the repetition that we miss what the Spirit is trying to tell us individually, the message that transcends the "boring" words being spoken?).  And yes, perhaps most of all, I realize that any "open mic" situation carries with it the risk that a given meeting may be hijacked by anyone with an agenda.

But I think, all of those caveats notwithstanding, that what we would lose by not allowing the "tail" of supposedly-boring, repetitive testimonies, of off-topic, ersatz testimonies, or of meeting hijacking to wag the "dog" by eliminating testimony meeting completely is not worth what we would gain by not having to worry about these things.  https://www.lds.org/topics/testimony?lang=eng#_

 

What we have experienced thus far is nowhere near the problems there could be in the future. For my part, being forced to endure one hostile or antagonistic tirade or scolding from the pulpit would be one too many to suit me. 

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7 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I have always wanted to recite the “John Galt” speech from “Atlas Shrugged” speech to see how far I could get before being asked to sit down.

The crazy old lady I knew who got up every month to talk about how the angels had rearranged the mirrors in her bathroom again did not get the kind of respect President Young presumably would have given her.

My favorite fast and testimony meeting was on my mission. A lady would get up every month and give a 15-20 minute report on her incredibly dull life. One day as she got up and had started speaking a little girl (probably around four years old) stood up on the pew and stuck out both her arms in front of her to give two thumbs down and in a long and loud outburst of sound expressed her feelings: “BOORRRRRING!” She was shorter then usual. I made a point of giving her candy every week after that going forwards. Even little children shall be given words that shall confound the dull.

When I was a teenager there was a woman in our ward who would, without fail, wait until the last moment of testimony meeting, then get up and bear a long rambling testimony. It was often full of her highly personal problems, and once she made a political diatribe. But every single time she would include the quote “Repent ye, repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And every time she would attribute it to a different prophet, including, but not limited to: Samuel the Lamanite (who I think actually said it), Jesus, Joseph Smith, Moroni, Nephi, and Alma. There were some Old Testament prophets in there too, I think. My brothers and I started giggling every time she got up. My dad finally told her to limit the frequency of her testimonies to allow the other members time (he was Bishop at this  point).  She pitched a fit to the Stake President, but the next Sunday she bore a very short testimony on how much she supported the bishop. I think they moved out within a year or two of that.

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7 hours ago, The Nehor said:

A lady would get up every month and give a 15-20 minute report on her incredibly dull life.

Why would ward leaders and ward members allow this to continue?

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20 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Why would ward leaders and ward members allow this to continue?

They were probably worried they would not be able to fill the time if she did not speak. She was also one of a relatively small group of people that would accept a calling.

In another ward we had a lady who would start singing hymns and other songs in her testimony. Her roommate would stand up near the front of the chapel and explain to the congregation loudly that her roommate was a little nuts while this was going on. Good times.....

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4 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

They were probably worried they would not be able to fill the time if she did not speak.

Why were people in the ward so devoid of testimonies to share? I mean, that's the core of the problem, isn't it?

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Just now, Hamba Tuhan said:

Why were people in the ward so devoid of testimonies to share? I mean, that's the core of the problem, isn't it?

It was a very small ward. I am not sure to this day how it qualified to be a ward.

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Just now, The Nehor said:

It was a very small ward. I am not sure to this day how it qualified to be a ward.

I don't think it's a numbers problem, though. My second-last branch had 14 members in it. We had no trouble filling a testimony meeting with simple, sincere testimonies ... though it did take all 14 of us each month (seven adults, two youth, and five children).

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Just now, Hamba Tuhan said:

I don't think it's a numbers problem, though. My second-last branch had 14 members in it. We had no trouble filling a testimony meeting with simple, sincere testimonies ... though it did take all 14 of us each month (seven adults, two youth, and five children).

I do not know. It was a long time ago.

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1 minute ago, The Nehor said:

I do not know. It was a long time ago.

I think the beginning of the answer is obvious. Testimony meetings are beautiful when a congregation is filled with people who every month are having experiences that build their faith and compel them to share their growing understanding of what is true and beautiful in the gospel. The next question is something about why people aren't having those kinds of experiences. It strikes me that everything I've seen in the Church for the past several years is designed to tackle that second question.

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We rarely had issues with people ending early and needing to fill time. If that happened, then one of the bishopric would fill the time.

In Chicago when I was a young man, we had an ancient Filipino brother who would give his testimony for the entire hour. No one could understand him. The bishopric, thinking that he might consider that his contribution, had him give the opening prayer. 

He gave a half hour opening prayer that no one could understand. :) 

I would hate to lose testimony meetings because of antagonistic activism. If it were up to me, I would instruct all of the AA70s (yes, Scott, I know they're not called that) to have all of their stake presidents fully teach their bishoprics what to do if antagonistic activists try to commandeer the meeting (in a calm, swift, decisive, and non-combative manner, ending the meeting and dismissing if necessary). Once the YouTube value of taping meeting hijackings plummets, they'll move along and do something else. 

I've also noticed that people tend to have the inverse reaction to direct counsel on this than leaders intend. In other words, FP letters instructing that children should practice bearing testimony at home or in sharing time (soon to be defunct) have the opposite effect of . . . stamping out sing-song poem-a-monies or whispered recitations. They actually increase when this is focused on. In our ward sixteen years ago, the bishop needed to address children hijacking the meeting regularly, and people not testifying to anything. He taught what testimonies are and aren't (using Elder Jay E. Jensens's talk "Testimony"), repeated the instructions about children testifying, and had ward council members demonstrate proper testimonies. He explained that many adults who wanted to couldn't because children were taking over the meeting. With the balance of time in the F&T meeting, and I kid you not, 20 kids ran up to the stand to get in line, with their parents beaming at them like they hadn't heard anything. It was worse than before. 

The dilemma facing modern local leaders is the encroachment of what Lou Midgely called "Mormon nice." You then have to be the bad cop, in spades, and say, "All of you children, please go sit down. Did any of you listen to a word I said?" Etc. But it is increasingly hard for many to do that, because people fly apart like glass (and snipe about you on social media). It's what leaders need to do, but it is increasingly hard to do in the modern church. 

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4 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

I think the beginning of the answer is obvious. Testimony meetings are beautiful when a congregation is filled with people who every month are having experiences that build their faith and compel them to share their growing understanding of what is true and beautiful in the gospel. The next question is something about why people aren't having those kinds of experiences. It strikes me that everything I've seen in the Church for the past several years is designed to tackle that second question.

Looked it up, ward does not exist anymore. Merged into another ward that I heard good things about though I never served there.

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