Persons who wish to make profession of faith are required to give “an appropriate testimony of their faith, life, and doctrine to the elders” of their church (Church Order, Art. 59-b). This is a rich privilege for council members, but it can be a scary prospect for those who are asked to give their testimony. To diminish the fear factor, churches are developing a variety of welcoming practices for inviting people to meet with council members. Here are some of their ideas.
Consider Your Practices
Talk it over. Discuss if and how your council interview practices invite and encourage people to publicly profess their faith.
Make testimony a two-way street. Build community and set people at ease by asking two or three council members to briefly share their own testimonies during the interview time.
Be flexible. Consider allowing people to bring a written testimony, a homemade video, or another expression of their faith to the interview.
If the person you will be interviewing has an intellectual disability such as Down syndrome, adapt your questions to that person’s ability. The book Expressing Faith in Jesus includes a list of sample questions you can use.
Jubilee Fellowship CRC in St. Catharines, Ont., has developed a unique practice. They set aside an entire evening for the profession of faith “interview” process. First those who are professing their faith meet informally with a mentor or a member of council. They give their testimony by answering these six questions, which they receive in advance. Later in the evening the mentors and/or council members share those testimonies with the entire council, with all who are professing their faith present. After that, the church’s tech person records each person’s answers to the six questions on video. Clips from those videos are compiled and shown during the profession of faith segment of the worship service. Plenty of time is set aside in the service for this. View one of the compiled videos.
At Pleasant Street CRC, in Whitinsville, Mass., students, parents, and mentors have dinner together on the Friday night before public profession. They film the students’ testimonies for use in the worship service.
Pastor Joe Hamilton of First CRC in Thunder Bay, Ont., shares this letter with the elders of the church before they meet with people desiring to publicly profess their faith.