-Start ON time (and everyone shuts up)
-Opening Hymn followed by the Invocation
-Sacrament Hymn then, obviously, the Sacrament
-Testimonies (until there are EXACTLY 5 minutes left in the meeting)
Done, that's it. Start and end on time, I'm sick of this "Mormon Standard Time" crap, btw.
Now, how does one bear their testimony? Obviously, very few people know how. You get up and as coherently as you can bear your testimony in under 5 minutes.
1. Don't tell us a story. It's really hard to feel the spirit when people get up on the stand and go on and on (you aren't the energizer bunny) about trips they have taken and telling a story that is WAY to long and mostly irrelevant. If the story is going to take longer to tell than your actual testimony of Christ, the Atonement and the truthfulness of the LDS church *which is what a testimony is supposed to be,* don't tell it. We don't need the details, we only need a 3 sentence summary of the relevant parts.
2. Speaking of time, there is a whole ward trying to bear their testimonies once a month in less than an hour. Be courteous, keep it short and to the point. Others want a turn too.
3. When we are supposed to end 5 minutes until the meeting ends, don't wait! Get up and get in line. Once that clock ticks to the time Sacrament Meeting is supposed to be closing, NO ONE is listening anymore. It is so un-okay to get up and disregard everyone else by making time run over. Kids are done being reverent and you are cutting into Sunday school time that the teachers have spent a lot of time on preparing their lessons. It is disrespectful. Don't you think this meeting is long enough as it is without the speakers blasting right past closing time.
4. Don't get to the stand and say "I didn't want to come up here but I just felt I needed to...I don't really know what I'm going to say, so bare with me(the phrase ' so bare with me' is my least favorite in the english langauge')...I'm really nervous, I was just sitting there and felt the need to get up...." Frankly, we don't care why you are bearing your testimony, we just care that you are.
5. It's okay if you cry because of your emotions, that is fine; but if your language has turned into blubbering incoherentness that isn't even english anymore....please close as best you can and gather yourself in the audience.
6. Don't bring your kid up with you (unless they too are going to bear their testimony-which should only be done if they can a. speak b. going to give a real testimony and c. can give it by themselves properly without parental help). They pull at your clothes, hair, jewelry, the tissues and the mic and regularly let out a blood curdling scream as if they were being murdered. Unacceptable.
7. Politics are NOT for church, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever.......ever.
8. Don't slam people/groups/other religions (that's not very Christ-like). You don't know who you are offending. Mormons aren't the only ones making it to Heaven. I would be TERRIFIED to bring an investigator to church on a fast & testimony meeting Sunday because who knows what will come out of the member's mouths. Fast & testimony meeting Sunday should be the best time to bring investigators.
9. It's not a "holier than thou" spiel time either. Or a time to one-up the other members of your ward.
10. Just bear your testimony of what you know and believe, it is that simple and will bring the spirit to you and those listening. And those listening, be quiet.
I mean testimony meeting for me and others I know is just a frustrating experience because people don't think. My friend Melanie had a great point. The bishop at the beginning should remind everyone what an actual testimony should be, quickly bear his and sit down. Then end the meeting on time regardless if people are still in line. There is always the next meeting that teachers often leave extra time at the end for those that didn't have the chance to bear their testimony in Sacrament to give theirs in class. And there is always next month. Also, when the bishop of whoever is presiding over the meeting talks forever when he does get up to close the meeting-that needs to end too.
I know I am not the only one who shares these feeling toward Testimony Meeting. We really aught to strive to bring it back to what is was supposed to be. There is a talk by Elder Dallin H. Oaks that outlines what a testimony IS, it's called Knowledge encourages obedience, and obedience enhances knowledge (sound familiar?) http://lds.org/conference/talk/display/0,5232,23-1-851-10,00.html
While I was looking for this talk online I stumbled upon this blog that ya'll should read too, it makes similar and more points that I share and agree with.
Now, real quick (maybe) let us talk about that fateful Thursday night around the fire or in the pavilion of Girls Camp. That's right-testimonies at girls camp. Every girl gets up and immediately the water works start and they (quite literally cry the entire time) go on and on how they didn't want to come to camp this year...they didn't know if it was going to be fun...if the girls would be nice...they were nervous...etc, etc. But they came and they are so glad they did because it was super fun, all the girls are so wonderful and they love each other so much, and the leaders are great etc, etc. When in reality ALL freaking week everyone was fighting and loathed each other. Face it, it's hundreds of girls; we are so so mean to each other. We are awful, tearing others down to just build ourselves up is a regular occurrence. We enjoy it. So, don't lie during your testimony. Also, we don't want a "friendimony" or a "thankimony" no no, that's not okay.
Testimony meeting is supposed to be uplifting and spiritually fulfilling. Just everyone, learn what a testimony is supposed to be, use your heads, have common sense and decency, be respectful and share you stories with your friends in an appropriate setting. Don't get me wrong, I love my church/religion and believe in it's Gospel. I'm just tired of people's actions and not using their heads and the brains God gave them. That's all.