Speaking is difficult particularly when you're speaking in front of a crowd of people you don't know well. Being in front of friends and family is usually easier cause those close to you will give you a bit more grace. Speaking in front of adults is hard, but teens eeeeekkk. After 14 years in ministry I still get the shakes before speaking. It can be totally scary at times and a total blast other times. Remember to smile and have fun! I am going to share a few tips I picked up along the way. I also love this article by Kurt Johnson that was published in 2016 and thought hey I should share this too.
I speak not for myself but for those without voice... those who have fought for their rights... their right to live in peace, their right to be treated with dignity, their right to equality of opportunity, their right to be educated. -Malala YousafzaiSo First... Plan ahead. Think about the theme, the scripture, and the audience you're about to speak to. What is it that God desires from you?!? I love to dwell over the text for a day or two before really diving in. Prepping my heart is the most important thing and oddly seems to be the thing I skip over most frequently. I am constantly reminded of Job's final encounter with God, where God, in Job 38:3, says, "Brace yourself like a man, I will question you and you will answer me." If I am allowing myself to be vessel for God then I shouldn't I consult him before uttering a word?!?
Second... Dive in. I love reading through the text a few times looking for weird phrases (in the story of Zacchaeus, a man in a tree is seen by no one except for Jesus... come on what's going on here), questions you have about the text (i.e. who's speaking in the story, whose silent, why is the purpose of this text...), and anything that makes this text stand out. Before I go any further I write down what is the 1 thing I want my audience to know after this message?!? And Yes depending on the scripture it can be difficult to narrow the main point or take away down. But what I have found to be true is this helps me to delineate between information that is pertinent to the message and that which is not. A messy message leaves no one satisfied. After a few questions I then look at different resources likes biblehub.com, blueletterbible.com, step bible, and commentaries to answer my questions.
Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something. -PlatoFinally... Put It all together. · Make sure there is a point & a flow to your talk.· Allow the talk to be more about how you dealt with the subject. Often times we get so caught up talking about the subject that we never address how this subject affects us, or how to overcome a particular struggle, or what God was doing in the midst of it all. Yup I know I am guilt of this sin as well. Oh yes and don't forget to include the bible (just a wee bit important). Wait wait... one last tip.. practice, practice, practice.
Below is the article from Kurt Johnson and at the end of this post there are more tips on giving a talk, evaluating a talk, and giving a testimony. Have Fun!
Part of an article from Kurt Johnson
And while there is no silver bullet for becoming a better communicator, I do think there are several things that hinder your efforts. So for your consideration, here are seven sins to avoid when you are communicating with teenagers:
- The Sin of Winging It. You like to rely on the Holy Spirit. You are naturally gifted and feel more comfortable shooting from the hip. Everybody knows the lesson time is the least important part of youth group. Actions speak louder than words. You are a volunteer and don’t have time to prep. I’ve heard every single one of those excuses…and a dozen others. And they may all be true. So I’ll give you ONE reason I try to never wing it: Because teenagers are worth my best efforts, and they know when I’m not giving it to them.
- The Sin of Conjecture. Conjecture, to some degree, is part of trying to explain the many mysteries of God’s word and his ways. But be careful. Avoid the easy temptation to teach conjecture as if it were true; to build lessons around stuff that is merely opinion or guesses instead of what you know Scripture teaches. A key to being a good communicator is winning the trust of your audience, and too much conjecture in the wrong areas undermines trust.
- The Sin of Seriousness. Take God’s word seriously. Take the opportunity you are given to teach it seriously. But don’t take yourself too seriously! Teenagers like to laugh. They like to hear you tell an embarrassing story. They need God’s word to be a source of hope; a life preserver. King David said, “I was glad when they said let’s go to the house of the Lord.” If your lessons are marked by seriousness, severity and scowls, no teenager is going to be happy to hear it.
- The Sin of Lecturing. I’m preaching to the choir on this one, friends, because I’m really, really good at creating youth ministry ‘sermons’ that are one-directional. I know this because on more than one occasion, students have found me after church to tell me how great my speech was! Hint: If students think they just sat through a speech, you might be in lecture mode! In youth ministry, a good speech is never as effective as a good conversation.
- The Sin of Being Too Creative. Remember, it’s better to be clear. Don’t let the content of your lesson get lost in the creativity of your lesson. The world’s most awesome object lesson isn’t awesome if it isn’t easily understood and helps drive home an important lesson.
- The Sin of Boredom. The only thing worse than trying to be too creative is deciding creativity isn’t important at all! Young Life founder, Jim Rayburn, once said, “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.” I like to say, “The gospel is meant to be good news, not a good snooze!” Yes, God’s word stands alone and doesn’t need us to spice it up. Yes, it’s sharper than any two-edged sword. And yes, most teenagers don’t yet understand those truths and need us to present it in a way that is engaging, interesting and irresistible.
- The Sin of Certainty. Teenagers have doubts. God’s word is mysterious. Life is a challenge. God can feel distant. There are times (lots of them) to teach God’s word with confidence and certainty because there is a lot to be certain of! But, there are also times to admit that we don’t have all the answers, that there is a certain amount of uncertainty in our faith journey. Teenagers need to have confidence and a sense of the certainty of God’s presence in their lives, but they also need lessons that highlight the uncertainty that is a vital part of life with Jesus.