Posted by: thebylog | April 23, 2009

Testimony Times

In conservative Mennonite churches – at least in those with which I am familiar – once or twice a year in anticipation of Communion there is a service dedicated to the testimonies of church members. For me, it is often encouraging because I get to hear how God is working in my Christian brothers’ and sisters’ lives.

Now, one may or may not be interested in predicting, at the outset of the service, how long it will last. To do this, you need two pieces of information: 1) How many people will testify; and 2) How long their testimonies will take, on average.

Several weeks ago on April 5 we had a testimony service at my church. I decided to do a little data collection and note the length of time from the beginning of one testimony to the next. I collected this data for probably 80% of the people, skipping perhaps the first 15 (all elderly) and the last 10 to 15. So I could have a biased sample in that I only included a portion of the older people, but we will assume that all is well.

Using Minitab I explored the data a bit. First a histogram:

histogram-of-test_time
And now some summary statistics:

N: 90
Mean: 45.56
Median: 35
Standard Deviation: 36.21
Standard Error of Mean: 3.82
Min: 5
Max: 170
Q1: 20
Q3: 55

Several interesting things here. First of all, the mean is almost smack dab on 45 seconds. Thus, as a decent estimate of how long the testimonies will take, count the number of people who will give testimonies and multiply by 0.75 minutes.

I think it’s interesting that the maximum is under 3 minutes. No extended discourses from anyone. You can see from the histogram that most of the testimonies were less than 1 minute with only a relative few longer than that.  Oh, and there was one uncertain data point.  I probably should have thrown it out, but I counted it as 2:25 when it possibly was 1:25, for what it’s worth.

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Responses

  1. I’m amazed that the maximum time is under three minutes. I’ve witnessed many speakers give a fifteen minute version of a three minute testimony. However, in the settings where I observed this the format might have been a bit different. Hooray for parsimony.


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