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Preparing a Baptismal Testimony

Baptizo Series 9

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son... (1 John 5:11)

A key moment in every baptism service is the testimony of the one being baptized. Baptism itself is a testimony, a tangible picture of the Christian’s death to the old self and resurrection to spiritual life as he or she was united with Jesus in his death, burial, and resurrection. This picture or illustration is amplified and clarified when it is accompanied by a brief account of what God has done in the life of the believer who is being baptized. It is a great encouragement to every Christian who is present; it is an exhortation to those who are considering Christ, or contemplating baptism, to follow the example of the baptized person; and it is a challenge and a summons to those who do not yet believe to repent of their own sin and trust in Christ for their own salvation just as the person being baptized has already done.

And so we ask that each person being baptized prepare a brief written testimony of their faith in Christ. In terms of length, we suggest aiming for about a page in length (500 words), but it can be shorter or longer as long as the testimony says what needs to be said. We do ask that you write it out, for a number of reasons. It allows us to work with you to fine-tune it by leaving out unnecessary details and correcting any errors or shortcomings in your writing. Many people tend to “talk long” without something written out, and so a written, prepared testimony keeps you from rambling! Often, a person is nervous of public speaking, and so reading from a page is often much easier than trying to talk “off the cuff.” So, please prepare a written testimony and email it to the elders at least a week or two before the baptism service so that we can help you fine-tune it.

What should you include in such a testimony? We suggest you cover the following ideas in your testimony:

Your life before you came to Christ (or, if you grew up in a Christian home and can’t remember a time when you didn’t have some kind of belief in Jesus, describe your upbringing). In particular, if possible, try to give examples or a summary of the kind of person you were apart from the grace of God.

One quick thing about this, though: it’s tempting for some people to speak at length about their former sins, and not long enough about what God has done. The effect is to amplify sin and reduce grace—so try not to do that! Your testimony is about how good Jesus has been to you, not primarily about how bad you were without him. Similarly, try to be general about your sins; going into detail can not only make some uncomfortable but might actually be a cause of temptation to others. Remember that there will be little kids listening!

What happened to bring you to faith in Jesus? Was it a crisis? Was it a certain message or word? Did God use someone in particular, whether a parent or family member, a friend, a pastor, someone in the church? How?

What changes have you seen, and have others seen, in your life since you trusted in Jesus? In what ways have your sins been broken and your love for the things of God been increased? What spiritual fruit do you see in your life or have others told you they see in you?

Also, we’d like to make copies of your testimony available for those attending the service to read. Sometimes when baptisms take place, it’s hard for some to hear—especially if the baptism takes place outside, or if someone is hard of hearing. Don’t underestimate how encouraging a baptism testimony is to others!