Visiting my wife's family has caused me to think about things a bit differently. Some background. I grew up in a partially-active family (dad's only been to church a few times in last 15-20 yrs... mainly missionary farewells) in a very Mormon community. My wife grew up in a SUPER-active family in VERY non Mormon community. I've noticed some differences here compared to where I grew up. When my wife talks about friends who joined the church, then stopped coming, they "left the church." For me, that term was reserved for excumunicates and those who had their names removed.
Now, something that's bothered me a bit, is her family's tendency to judge others based on testimony. It's a regular subject of conversation when talking about others. "Does he have a testimony?" etc. I'm not necessarily condemning them here for unrighteous "judging," but rather questioning their measuring stick.
For me, "does she keep the commandments" is much more enlightening than questions regarding what a person knows/believes. Wouldn't you be more comfortable with you son/daughter dating someone with rock solid morals, who follows Christ's example the best they can, but are unsure of the prophetic call of Joseph Smith, rather than someone who knows with "every fiber of their being" that JS was called of God, but doesn't do much in their life to reflect that?
For me, this is the distinction between testimony and conversion. And, to me, conversion seems much more important (and difficult to come by). I want my friends to be converted, regardless of the strength of their testimonies. That is how they'll have the best influence on me. It seems so foreign to me to equate testimony with "good person".
An example: Several members of her extended family have "left the church" (i.e. they don't go anymore - some for political/social issues [gay rights] others for intellectual disagreements). It's interesting to hear the family talk about them, and the hope they have of them coming back. It seems that their hope is tied entirely to the belief that they still have small testimonies burning inside, waiting to come out. Those they see as having more testimony left they see as closer to coming back. For me though, I think it far more likely for those who are still living closer to gospel standards to come back and regain a testimony, than it is for someone with a testimony to try to start living gospel standards again.
So which is it?