At least once a month, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a chance to share their testimonies during fast and testimony meeting. There are also other times when the opportunity arises to share a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel.
"A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost," according to the "Testimony" entry in the Gospel Topics library on churchofjesuschrist.org.
Foundations of a testimony include the knowledge that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live, that Jesus Christ is the son of God and carried about the Atonement, Joseph Smith is a prophet and restored the church, and the church is led by a living prophet today. (See the "Testimony" entry for more on gaining a testimony.)
The bearing of one’s testimony is personal and heartfelt. There are also things that are key components of a testimony. There are some things that do not constitute a testimony, and should be avoided. Here are a few tips on bearing a testimony. (These are by no means all-inclusive and local leaders may also have other guidelines for fast and testimony meetings.)
1. Watch the time
When the conducting member of the bishopric opens up the meeting for testimonies, there is an allotted time. When some take too much time, it doesn’t allow others the opportunity to share.
The First Presidency emphasized the importance of brevity when bearing testimony in a letter in 2013, stating, “We are concerned that ... members who desire to bear their testimonies … do not have the opportunity to do so. Bishoprics are encouraged to help all people learn to express a brief, heartfelt testimony of the Savior, his teachings, and the Restoration, so that more members may have the opportunity to participate.”
2. Testimony vs. thanks
Showing gratitude is wonderful, and should be encouraged. However, testimony meeting is not a time to publicly thank the congregation for help you have received — unless it is done briefly, and followed by testifying of gospel truths you have come to know. Don’t just use it as a mass thank-you note, but try to thank individually away from the pulpit.
3. Embrace the silence
Sometimes congregations experience silence where nobody is sharing a testimony. Some see this as wasted time, but it is not. When things are quiet, it allows time for reflection. Don’t be in a hurry to fill the space with words unless you feel compelled to do so. Silence isn’t a bad thing.
4. Tell what you know
A testimony is defined as a declaration of truth.
In the “Missionary Preparation Student Manual,” an excerpt from “Teach Ye Diligently” by President Boyd K. Packer shares this principle, where he described a particular testimony meeting he had been to as a mission president. While others would share stories and expressions of gratitude, one elder declared quickly, “I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that we have a prophet of God leading the church. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
In response to this elder’s brief declaration, President Packer wrote, “This was a testimony. It was not just an experience nor an expression of gratitude. It was a declaration, a witness!”
5. Whether or not to get up and share
To many, getting up in front of people is difficult. If you don’t express your words publicly, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a testimony. A testimony is a spiritual witness given by the Holy Ghost of gospel truths that comes through his quiet influence. Whether you share it often or not, or publicly at all, you know when you have a testimony. And what a wonderful thing to have.