Thus, the pastor preparing them to testify of their faith in Christ, so that they can be given the privileges of communicant membership by the elders and come to the Lord’s Supper, needs to approach them a little differently than someone who was converted out of the world as an adult. To that end, as a pastor I would give young people readying to make a public profession a single page worksheet with the following guidance on it. I offer it here as a hopeful aid to anyone that might benefit from it.
When preparing young people who have grown up in the church to make a public profession of faith, the usual formulaic approach of writing down a testimony usually does not work. Asking them to think of what their life was like before Christ, how they were then converted, and what has happened since then does not fit their experience.
For many teen-aged believers who grew up in a Christian home and attended church regularly do not remember a time when they did not believe in Christ. Though they have known experiences with sin and trusting in Christ through their life, they are hesitant about naming a time of conversion. Forcing them to come up with such a time can be a way of unknowingly sowing harmful seeds into their souls, as they start looking for an experience that creates doubt rather than looking to Christ with simple yet real faith.
Thus, the pastor preparing them to testify of their faith in Christ, so that they can be given the privileges of communicant membership by the elders and come to the Lord’s Supper, needs to approach them a little differently than someone who was converted out of the world as an adult. To that end, as a pastor I would give young people readying to make a public profession a single page worksheet with the following guidance on it. I offer it here as a hopeful aid to anyone that might benefit from it.*
If you were brought up in a faithful Christian family, you may not remember the exact time of your conversion. You may even think that your testimony is “not as exciting” as one who was dramatically converted out of a godless lifestyle. Yet remember that God was working in your life even before you were born. As He tells us in Deuteronomy 10:15, “Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day.” In the work He was doing in your parents and grandparents’ lives, God had you in mind as well.
So follow these guidelines in preparing your testimony.
Interview of Parents and Grandparents. The Scripture above from Deuteronomy reminds us that God can and does work through families and generations. Talking to your parents and grandparents who are believers can help you to prepare a faithful testimony of God’s work in your life. Set up an interview with your parents (and grandparents where possible) and ask them the following questions:
- Briefly explain how you became a Christian.
- What evidence are you aware of that God was working in the generations of our family before us?
- Have you seen evidence that Jesus Christ has saved me from my sin? What do you see?
- What are some definitive moments in my life when you have seen me learn to trust Christ and walk with Him?
- Do you think I am ready for the responsibility of coming to the Lord’s Table? Why?
Personal Review of Your Life. Now jot down things that come to mind with regard to these subjects:
- Memories you have of the Christian training in your home (“We had family worship every night”, “We saw the Lord answer our prayers”, “We had the poor in our home”, “We memorized Scriptures”, etc.).
- Struggles with sin that Christ is helping you overcome, particularly in ways that you have seen yourself become less self-centered and more Christ-centered.
- Significant verses that God has used in your life.
Writing of your testimony. Using the ideas gathered above, write out your story in such a way that a listener could understand how God saved you and what it means to believe. Try to keep this story around 5 minutes in length. Put in details that help aid the story, but avoid too many details that would clutter it up. When we are together again, I will listen and offer suggestions for making it more easy for a listener to follow.
*Though this worksheet was used in a Presbyterian church setting to grant baptized children the privilege of communicant membership, I believe it could be used equally as well in a Baptist setting to prepare young people growing up in the church for their profession of faith.
Barry York is Professor of Pastoral Theology at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. This article is used with permission.