My favorite part of furlough ministry (other than 99 cent double cheeseburgers) is being able to share my ministry with Believers in local Baptist Churches. Not only do these opportunities allow me to share my burden but the same old stories, jokes, and lessons about the Australian culture can be used because the people haven’t heard any of them. More than the chance to preach and use recycled material however, the thing I really love about furlough meetings is a chance to perfect the art of the five-minute testimony.
Now to some of you asking a Missionary to share their calling in five minutes may seem absolutely barbaric, but in today’s culture it’s an essential part of ministry. Many Churches will have lots of Missionaries once a year for their Missions Conference or special Missionary Sundays, which obviously creates a need for time constraints. In every service one Missionary will be asked to give a brief testimony; the time limit is ten minutes but if you only take five it will make everyone very happy (trust me).
The other reason for a five-minute testimony is the length of ministry presentations or videos which today will last for at least ten minutes with some going as far as fifteen. This means giving a five-minute testimony before the presentation and a closing at the end can easily take a half hour. While some Churches will give forty-five minutes it is preferable to try to finish in a half hour so there will be time for questions.
The reason I truly love the five-minute testimony and perfecting my own is it only gives enough time to share what’s truly important. Those funny stories, very unfunny jokes, and amazing truths about the Aussie culture are great ways to connect with others, but soon you will have ten minutes with information that entertains people but doesn’t truly share your calling or burden.
The five-minute testimony forces us to put everything else aside except our calling and personal testimony. This may not be as funny as those stories, they may not make people shake their head sadly at the terrible joke, and they may not create the ever-elusive gasp of surprise like your cultural truths. But in the long run is that really what’s important?
Here is what’s Important: How God called you to the Mission Field, and what the Lord has done there…the end. Seriously you can go ahead and sit down after that.
Oh don’t get me wrong I still love to tell the stories, jokes, and Aussie history lessons but there is a time and place for that. Around a meal of extremely fattening food, chatting after the service, while spending time with other missionaries, ministry updates, and of course blog posts that are connected to your Facebook page and Twitter feed daily.
Bottom line there is a time and place for the connecting side of ministry presentations but often that isn’t during the service itself. So go ahead and create a concise five-minute testimony, and don’t be shocked when the people applaud.