When I was growing up, I hated testimonies. Church services tended to be long and I would be staring at the clock watching as the minutes and hours inched passed 12 o clock, 1 o clock, and sometimes as late as 2 pm. All the adults seemed to be excited about some theological concept (righteousness by faith) that they as a church community had recently discovered. It mostly went over my head since I had not grown up during the more oppressive time periods of Adventism when the church as a whole was very legalistic (meaning that God only saved you if you were good enough.)
As I have grown older, I have learned to enjoy testimonies. I enjoy hearing testimonies in church and I have enjoyed reading them on the internet. I guess the appeal is usually the person is brutally honest about some aspect of themselves. In the Christian context it seems like that brutal honesty always concerns the past (the life of sin.) But it gives a glimpse into that person that isn't normally seen in the normal "How's it going", "so nice to see you", and "Welcome to church" conversations.
What I have found, is that it isn't only the Christians that enjoy testimonies. It seems popular among a certain subset of atheists. Usually it seems like those atheists who once were conservative Christians. Here is one example that I found this week. In fact there is a site that has archived a large number of these testimonies. Basically people are sharing their stories of how they transitioned from a Christian to an atheist, their de-conversion story.
Sometimes I wonder if I am on the same path. Many times I wished that testimonies in church would contain more of the present day struggles. Life is never as simple as "I was once a sinner, but Jesus saved me." I suspect that many of the people that I go to church with are also on that de-conversion path. What would a church look like, if somebody could stand up and honestly express their struggles? I think that sharing our current doubts and struggles would make the church a stronger community.
There is another testimony blog that I have started following. The author has struggled with some of the same issues that I have, but somehow he was able to not only stay a Christian, but still work as a Pastor up in Washington. I highly recommend his "memoir" blog and also his opinion blog. I don't know what the future will hold, but I am at peace with myself and I am enjoying the journey.