THE TWO SENTENCE TESTIMONY
I changed careers several times over 30 years while sitting at the same chair and desk at Sunrise Engineering. As the number of employees grew, Sunrise changed. When we first started, I did everything. But, over time as talented employees filled critical needs, my focus changed and I became a: designer, project engineer, senior engineer, quality control manager, business manager, funding specialist, business development manager, marketing director, in addition to President and CEO. Business development taught me many things.
We would often write detailed proposals to do a specific project for a potential client. Competition was keen. The client’s selection committee would read the proposals submitted by competing engineering firms and then short-list 3 firms for interviews. We learned that reviewers are skimmers not readers. In order to move to the short list, it was absolutely paramount for reviewers, who skim read our proposal, to understand our theme and unique approach. This information had to be easily picked up in the first few sentences of our approach to the work and how we will solve project issues. We had to quickly differentiate ourselves from all the others so the client understood why we are the best selection for the project.
We developed what we called “Elevator Speeches.” This is a concise and clear statement of who Sunrise is and how we assist clients. We used different speeches to fit different specialties we offered. We used the elevator speech all the time when making sales calls. In theory, if you are at a conference and a water district president steps in an elevator with you, while the elevator is headed for his floor he glances at your name tag and asks, “Sunrise Engineering, what do you guys do?” Your opportunity to present yourself is gone when the elevator door opens and he leaves. What you say must be short, powerful, personal and persuasive. I find contacting people in missionary work to be very similar.
The 2 Sentence Testimony is the elevator speech by members and missionaries. This was developed by Misha Rahmen van Eden, of the Zoetermeer Ward in preparation of the open-house to their new ward building. It is a method to immediately teach and testify to people you meet or contact. The objective is to teach with 2 sentences a principle of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, testify that it is true and do this with words that do not offend, sound pushy or condescending. You do this by stating a doctrine that you have had a meaningful experience with, not just any principle, and state what you felt or learned from that experience; it is not a statement of what the contact should be doing or feeling.
As Church members, you come in contact with people daily. Your contact may be in the store, on public transportation, at work, a chance meeting, a Face Book post, etc. It is important to find a comfortable and appropriate way to expose people to your faith during these moments of interaction. By listening to what people say, then expressing your similar experience and what you learned or felt can be the bridge to teach in good taste a gospel principle and testify. What is needed is a short powerful personal statement of your experience and your feelings.
Full-time missionaries are more aggressive than members because they initiate contact with as many people as possible on the street or knocking on doors. Because missionaries have essentially ambushed the person approached, the person they contacted probably does not have time, at that moment, to jump into a long gospel discussion with a stranger but they will usually politely listen to what you have to say, if it is short. Therefore it is important to make contact with a short powerful statement.
Time and content are the key ingredients for the 2 Sentence Testimony. After 2 or 3 sentences by you, most people contacted on the street might begin rejecting you. Therefore it is important to say something immediately that will teach and testify. If they have no interest to talk further then at least you gave the spirit a chance to testify to them instead of only delivering a wordy introduction before rejection. This is what is meant by PMG p. 158 to “teach when you find.”
Your testimony is personal knowledge of something that is true. The Guide to the Scriptures states: to Testify or a Testimony - is to bear witness by the power of the Holy Ghost; to make a solemn declaration of truth based on personal knowledge or belief. The 2 Sentence Testimony is a declaration of truth and is based on your personal knowledge or belief of truth.
24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; (DC 93:24)
Nephi understood the importance of the Holy Ghost with testimony as he said he was not:
1 …mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. (2 Nephi 33:1)
Sentence One – the Situation or Experience: Think of a personal, specific experience that is really important to you, where the gospel or church has affected your life. Then in one short sentence, write a description of that situation or experience. Write your statement and work on the wording so it clearly, concisely and accurately describes your situation or experience. Edit your statement to eliminate unnecessary words. It may be easier for you to first write your situation or experience with a few sentences and then condense it to one short powerful statement. Be brief, eliminate the story and get right to what happened to you. Keep it on one topic and make another 2 Sentence Testimony for other topics. For example:
The Situation - Long Version: As I grew up with my family on the farm, I believed that God existed but I knew I was separated from him. With this separation, it was difficult for me to maintain a strong belief in God. My sisters all believed without the doubt I experienced. Also, if He existed, I wondered how I could find happiness and please God with my every day decisions of where to go or what to do?
Now The Situation – Condensed to One Sentence: “Because we live in this world out of God’s presence, I wondered how to make daily choices that would bring me happiness.”
Sentence Two – How you felt from this experience. State in one short sentence, how you feel or what you learned as a result of this experience. Do not over-do it. A simple clear explanation of how you felt and what you learned is most effective. Continuing after the situation statement above for example:
How I Felt – One Sentence: “I found that reading the Book of Mormon every day gives me answers to concerns and gives me direction on where to go and what to do.”
As with the elevator speech, most people will find more success if they actually write their 2 Sentence Testimony for various gospel doctrines that are important to them, memorize the script and then practice it until it comes out of their mouth smoothly.
Remember, everyone is looking for happiness and fulfillment in their lives. They simply do not know where to find it. (DC 123:12) The gospel of Jesus Christ will bring this happiness and fulfillment that they seek. Also, everyone will eventually be open to hearing our message when confronted with a certain set of circumstances in their lives or when they feel the spirit testify to them. So do not be shy about giving your 2 Sentence Testimony.
Rejection comes when people feel you are telling them what they should think or believe. It is difficult for anyone to reject your personal experience and expression of how you felt from that experience. If it is short and powerful, the spirit can testify while people think, “Hey, I am having a similar experience. Maybe I should learn more about why you feel like you do.”
Every sentence of Chapter 3 in Preach My Gospel contains doctrine and principles of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Select principles you are passionate about. Then record instances, situations and experiences in your own life that made these doctrines real for you. Then record how you felt and what you learned. Your statement should be impactful and interesting to others so they personally relate to your experience.
Finally, the 2 Sentence Testimony has a strong affect when used by members as ‘Comments’ to posts they ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ on Face Book.