The other week I lead a workshop on technology for a group of Sunday School teachers. I was given plenty of notice to prepare, I did plenty of research on new technologies and made sure I talked about transferable principles. All was good until I walked into the room, and realized that I had overlooked one important detail. MY AUDIENCE. Instead of preparing a workshop for them, what I had done was built one for me.
As a youth minister you know your primary audiences are teenagers, parents and your ministry team. If you’ve been in ministry long enough you feel pretty comfortable with your audiences; however, it’s still easy to lose site and touch. If you don’t know whom you are speaking to you’ll find yourself speaking to nobody. If you want to grow your audience you need to know them and that’s done by.
Spending Informal Time With Them – When it comes to teens it means connecting with them online, going to their games or grabbing a bite to eat. With parents it might mean picking up the phone and when it comes to your team do something they like together. It might seem like I’m asking you to do more; however, it’s all about adjusting your schedule and making this a priority. The better you get to know someone the easier it is to serve them.
Knowing Your Content – If you are unsure of your audience before you speak make sure you are confident in your content. When you have passion and confidence you people are receptive. Even if they don’t understand what you are talking about, they’ll be drawn to your passion. That’s why so many of us want to pick up curling after watching them in the Winter Olympics.
Asking Questions And Listening – If you are speaking to teens gather a group of them together beforehand and ask them questions about the subject. Don’t draw any conclusions, let them speak and listen. Your goal is to be like a fly on the wall.
Asking The Experts – Chances are you aren’t the only one speaking to this demographic. Get to know your audiences by acquiring wisdom from those who study, follow and market to them. They’ll be able to give you new perspectives that will help craft and fine tune how you approach your audience.
When you get to know your audience you show them that you care what they are going through and what they need to know. When your audience sees that you care, they’ll want to share that with their friends. People are looking to feel connected, do that by speaking to their lives.
How do you get to know your audience?
Chris Wesley is the Director of Student Ministry at Church of the Nativity in Timonium, MD. You can read more great youth ministry articles and thoughts on his exceptional blog Marathon Youth Ministry.