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Testimony Bingo

MCQ - January 10, 2009

Do you play Testimony Bingo?  For the uninitiated, it goes like this:  At the start of F&T meeting, everyone in the group draws a box with 9 squares (3×3) on a piece of paper.  Then each person puts one name of a member of the congregation in each box.  You can’t use yourself or the person who’s conducting, but you can use anyone else who is present at the meeting (whole books could be written about the strategy of name placement).  Then, throughout the meeting, if anyone on your sheet of paper takes the mic, you can cross off that square.  First person with three in a row wins, unless someone else gets a blackout (meaning they cross off all their squares).  You can decide ahead of time what the winner gets as a prize.  It makes F&T meeting a lot of fun, but please, please: no wagering; prizes should be of the non-cash variety.  Do you play this game or any others during church meetings?  Does it enhance or detract from your experience? 


  1. Does the winner yell, “Bingo”?

    Comment by Kim Siever — January 10, 2009 @ 3:27 pm

  2. Great idea for a game. I thought you were going to put formulaic phrases in the squares (like when a child says “I know my family loves me”–they all say that, for some reason).

    Here’s another game you can play during church.

    Comment by Kevin Barney — January 10, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

  3. We used to play this at BYU except with phrases instead of people. And it wasn’t no weakling ‘every fiber of my being’ phrase either. The best one was when my friend Juan put that someone would sing their testimony that day and someone did. It was awesome.

    Comment by amri — January 10, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

  4. What? A non-cash prize un-gambles it? I say if you win, you make the losers give their cards to the winning square:)

    Comment by Bret — January 10, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  5. Kim, we have had to seriously whack people who inadvertenly get so into it that they let out a “yes!” when they get to mark off another square.

    Ha, Kevin, I’m afraid that game holds no appeal for me. I like games where my wife is still speaking to me afterwards.

    Comment by MCQ — January 10, 2009 @ 6:16 pm

  6. I’m always busy playing keep-quiet-you-kids-or-I’m-gonna-freak-out! and how-many-ways-can-we-entertain-a-22-month-old. Testimony bingo would rock!
    Actually, it might work with the 7 and 5 year olds. The 4 year old probably wouldn’t care. Thank you for the idea!

    Comment by cheryl — January 10, 2009 @ 6:26 pm

  7. We used to play baseball while tracting in our mission — “No, thanks, I’m Catholic” was a single, a door slammed without a verbal response was a double, or whatever we had agreed in advance. Somewhere in Lyon there is a woman still wondering about the American girls who burst out laughing when she said, “No thanks, I have to feed my cat.”

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — January 10, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

  8. Fun idea. I have a feeling if we played this, I’d always win, and everyone would end up hating it.

    When my teenagers and I get bored, we play hangman. I once creamed my daughter, by using a word she had written on her hand at the time—her boyfriend’s name. It was funny.

    Comment by Susan M — January 11, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  9. Susan, you might be surprised. I thought I had the game locked up last week because I was so wise as to notice that a couple would be blessing their first child, and I (correctly) assumed that at least one or both of the parents would speak. I lost because of a quirk in the way I placed their names on my bingo sheet. Curses!

    Comment by MCQ — January 11, 2009 @ 4:46 pm

  10. When I joined the Church (at age 14, back in 1967), there was another young man of the same age in the ward named (IIRC) Mike. This was back before the Church urged families to sit together during Sacrament meeting, so several of us youths would often sit together. (Plus, I had no family to sit with — I was an only convert — so I could pretty much sit with whomever I chose.)

    During F&T meetings, when testimonies started, Mike would put his forehead on the pew in front of him, looking down at the floor. He would then see how quickly he could name the member who was bearing his/her testimony just from the person’s voice and what s/he said. He’d go the whole F&T meeting that way (we’d let him know whether he was right or not, so he didn’t have to look up).

    He had a remarkable success rate, except with small children (who pretty much all sound alike and all say the same thing). We were all in awe of his talent. :-) ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 11, 2009 @ 6:53 pm

  11. I never heard of this and want to do it so badly, but we hardly know anyone in the ward! Maybe in 6 months.

    Meanwhile, my daughter and I have “conversations” with each other by underlining words in an old Book of Mormon until they form sentences or complete thoughts. It’s hard sometimes to suppress the giggles, and more than once we’ve had to cover up snorts with coughs.

    Comment by David T. — January 12, 2009 @ 9:41 am

  12. Kevin Barney 4:20 pm – Your comment reminds me of a memorable take on that standard line. When I was a youth a young boy in our ward stood to bear his testimony and said “I’m thankful for my parents and all the things they’ve done TO me.” Emphasis added

    Because I have a basic disagreement with the idea that children should be encouraged to stand and recite memorized lines I still find that line funny.

    Comment by lamonte — January 12, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  13. Because I have a basic disagreement with the idea that children should be encouraged to stand and recite memorized lines I still find that line funny.

    I do too lamonte, but I have found that, (when I have discussed this with the actual kids who do it) for the most part, they are not encouraged. They do it on their own. If that is the case, should we discourage them from doing it?

    Comment by MCQ — January 12, 2009 @ 4:04 pm

  14. MCQ,

    I guess it depends on WHY the kids do it. Is it because they think it makes their parents happy? I would think that’s the main reason. Or that they’re seeking praise? I would be very interested to know how many do it because what they’re saying (by rote) is exactly what they’re feeling at the moment.

    Comment by David T. — January 12, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  15. I think they just say what they hear the other kids say. They may actually feel that way, but mostly they are just responding to the moment. The question is, whether we think they are sincere or not, is it ok to tell them to just stay in their seats and be quiet?

    Comment by MCQ — January 12, 2009 @ 7:01 pm

  16. My husband can’t stand fast and testimony meeting, and I’m not horribly fond of it either. I really hate it when someone who knows I’m not LDS looks right at me when they say, “And I know this church is true, and Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.” Hey, thanks. The first 20,000 times someone said it didn’t change my mind, but you were right to think maybe the 20,001st time would be the charm. Or not.

    But that’s where being in an interfaith marriage helps my husband out. He skips his own church to come to mine once a month, so guess what day of the month he always skips?

    And while I dislike the conversion zeal I often encounter at F&T meeting, I actually have a lot of respect for the Mormon amateur hour. Rarely does the average congregant get to speak from the pulpit at a Protestant church; you can easily attend for years and years and never once find yourself front and center. There’s definitely something neat about the way Mormons do it, even if it does have its downsides. Even I’ve gotten up and said something at F&T meetings in the past, though I don’t think I’ll ever do it again.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — January 12, 2009 @ 9:40 pm

  17. Bridget, I’ve always wondered what non-members think of F&T, so thanks for commenting. I’m curious about what you said when you spoke. I’m also curious about why your husband dislikes it so much. It’s actually one of my favorite meetings because it’s so unpredictable. There are usually a couple of real gems that you remember forever. It’s also one of the best ways of getting to know people in your congregation.

    FWIW, I don’t think F&T meeting ought to be about conversion, so I think those who are targeting you are missing the point, although perhaps they mean well. I think it ought to be a time for speaking only when and what the Spirit dictates.

    Comment by MCQ — January 13, 2009 @ 12:09 am

  18. I used to feel the way David T does about kids bearing their testimonies. Then I heard a woman say in a talk that when she was a teenager, that’s how she gained her testimony—by getting up and bearing it. As she said the words, the Spirit bore witness that they were true to her. After that I stopped looking down on parents whispering what to say into their kids’ ears.

    Comment by Susan M — January 13, 2009 @ 8:37 am

  19. They whisper what to say? Hmmm, I don’t think that’s ok. That doesn’t happen in our ward. The kids just go up and pretty much say the same thing, like a little memorized speech. Not a big difference, I guess, but whispering in the kid’s ear just seems over the line to me.

    Comment by MCQ — January 13, 2009 @ 10:28 am

  20. You’ve never seen that? I’ve lived in about 15 wards, and it’s happened in all of them. Small kids I’m talking about—toddlers or like, under 6.

    Comment by Susan M — January 13, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  21. Yeah, I see the whispering all the time, but usually with kids under 5. After that they’ve got the jargon down well enough to bounce up there on their own.

    Susan M brings up a very good point. Part of gaining and fortifying a testimony is bearing it. That may sound like the chicken and the egg, but it actually works. That said, I think repeated conditioning helps. Bear, rinse, repeat.

    Comment by David T. — January 13, 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  22. MCQ, I asked my husband today why he dislikes F&T meeting so much. His response: “It’s boring as snot.” That was the extent of what he would say on the subject.

    When I was a teenager, I read a lot of counter-cult literature and had contact with several prominent counter-cult ministers. I had a really poor attitude towards Mormons and eventually had an epiphany about all this, seeing that my attitude needed to change and the counter-cult influences needed to go. I visited a friend’s ward once and in F&T meeting I got up and shared this, that while I was not a believer in the church, I knew that we each put our hope in Christ in some way and I wanted them to know there was one evangelical who’d had a huge change of heart about them. I’m sure it was one of the oddest things they’d ever heard at a F&T meeting.

    I may have spoken at F&T meeting once in my early days at BYU, I can’t remember. It’d have been something along similar lines if I did.

    Regarding parents whispering to their children what to say at F&T meeting, I’ve always looked at it with a caustic eye. I’ve known several ex-Mormons who felt that they were taught to fake a testimony they never had by parents who insisted they repeat “the church is true” on a regular basis. I certainly don’t want my own daughter affirming belief in the church unless she actually comes to feel that way. It’s something that I’m open to, but I’m doing my best to see to it that she isn’t manipulated either way.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — January 13, 2009 @ 3:02 pm

  23. I swear I’ve never seen the whipering bit in F&T. I know I’ve seen it in primary when little kids give talks or prayers, but it seems wrong to me in F&T. I can’t remember ever seeing it and I would not be ok with it if I did (though I don’t think I would complain about it)

    Bridget (or I guess you go by Jack, right?), I think
    F&T meetings (and probably other sacrament meetings as well) are probably boring, which is why we play games during them. I think I enjoy F&Ts a little more because I know the people in my ward very well, having lived in the same ward for most of my life, and I’m always entertained by finding out what they have to say. But then, I’m easily entertained.

    I think what you said would be a very welcome thing to say at F&T in most wards. One of the things we need most is an outsider’s perspective of us. It’s refreshing.

    Comment by MCQ — January 13, 2009 @ 3:21 pm

  24. I usually go by Jack.

    I don’t blame you guys at all for playing games in church. Protestant churches aren’t always interesting. When my mother was alive but terminally ill, I visited her church with her one day and the pastor was droning on. We started passing a note back and forth making plans to go see a movie after church, 30 Days of Night. Now that she’s passed away, I still have the note and I look at it and it makes me laugh. There’s just something really funny to me that we were passing notes in church, making plans to see a really gory rated R movie on the Sabbath. It was the last time I went to a movie with my mom though, and I’m not sorry I did it.

    My current pastor is usually interesting enough that I don’t get bored often, but I may have to keep the games thing in mind next time I have a boring pastor.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — January 13, 2009 @ 4:07 pm

  25. Games? In Church? Goodness no! I can’t give up valuable nap time.

    Comment by sam — January 14, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  26. My siblings and I used to really enjoy taking the hymn book and silently reading the hymn names and adding “In The Bathtub” to the end of the title.

    “Have I Done Any Good?”…

    “I Stand All Amazed”…

    I have fond memories of giggling uncontrollably while playing that.

    Comment by Sister Mary Lisa — January 14, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

  27. I remember reading “Patriot Games” during Sunday School as a teenager.

    Comment by Seth R. — January 16, 2009 @ 12:12 pm

  28. Seth,

    I always found church concordance covers fit Stephen King novels quite nicely.

    Comment by David T. — January 18, 2009 @ 5:27 pm

  29. MCQ,

    I was going through old journal entries today and I came across this. I thought you’d be interested. This was recorded during my first semester at BYU.

    “Sunday, March 4, 2001

    I went to the LDS sacrament meeting today. … Today was fast Sunday, and people are allowed to come to the podium and bear their testimonies. So I came forward. I was shaking so badly. When it was my turn to come, I started to talk about how I’d gotten into some bad fights with my dad when I was in ninth grade, and how he’d tell me that no one would love me, that no other parents would want me because I was such a rotten child. But what Dad didn’t understand was that Jesus wanted me, and that He loves me, and He had a plan for me. And I quoted Jeremiah 29:11-13. I was crying so badly.

    Afterwards, people said so many nice things about my testimony. Everyone asked me to repeat what verse it was I quoted. [One girl] gave me such a nice note, and even [a guy friend of mine] said he was impressed with the fact that God loves us. Several girls said they were thankful for my testimony, and one girl said I was an example to her. [My roommate from Deseret Towers] told me later on that she didn’t think there was a single person in that room who hadn’t been touched by my testimony. Someone told me that some girls had been talking about how ironic it was that they’d felt the Spirit more during my testimony than anybody else’s; any of the members, that is.”

    Ugh, I was a crier and a shaker, how cliché. But still, you know what? Us evangelicals are always looking for new ways to reach out to Mormons. Why don’t we just come to your churches on the first Sunday of the month, walk right up to the lectern and say whatever we want to say? It’s not like you card people to make sure that they’re Mormon first. That sounds like a great way to reach out to Mormons to me!

    You’ve inspired me. I’m gonna go to F&T meeting tomorrow.

    Comment by Bridget Jack Meyers — January 31, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  30. Why don’t we just come to your churches on the first Sunday of the month, walk right up to the lectern and say whatever we want to say? It’s not like you card people to make sure that they’re Mormon first. That sounds like a great way to reach out to Mormons to me!

    Awesome, Jack! And welcome to F&T meeting. I’m putting you on my bingo card right now.

    Comment by MCQ — February 1, 2009 @ 12:20 am

  31. Great testimonies today in F&T. I didn’t win bingo, but I really liked the meeting, even though the microphone didn’t work.

    Comment by MCQ — February 1, 2009 @ 4:54 pm

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