Hi there Simply Insiders,
Did you catch the awesome video guest blog from Josh Shipp a few days ago? We’ve got more great insight from him in this peek inside his conversation with a youth pastor!
Speaking Q&A with Josh Shipp
Q. Strictly from a “public speaking” perspective, what do you think is the most important piece of advice you could give us youth pastors? Ben M. — Wichita, KS
A. Hi Ben,
Someone once told me that the number one rule of public speaking is “know who you’re talking to.” (Or, if you’re a snobby English major, “know to whom you’re speaking.”)
For example, if you’re speaking to a plumber’s convention, then it’s okay to break out that reference about the journeyman who tried to work on a Findlay sprinkler head with a Langstrom 7″ gangly wrench and…
See what I did there?
But (no plumber pun intended), Ben from Wichita, you’re not a plumber. You’re a youth pastor.
You have to remember that you have been given – by God – the very real, very important gift and challenge of speaking to a very real group of very real students.
You do NOT have an “audience.” You have a group of individual students with individual heartaches, dreams, worries, gifts and frustrations.
If you want to improve your message, improve the amount of time you spend with your students.
I know. I know. This isn’t what you wanted to hear. You wanted to hear me say that the best thing you can do is lock yourself in your office and study the newest quick-keys for the Platinum Level of Logos.
And that is important/fun – but not as important as deeply understanding the individuals you’re bringing the message to.
What are they actually dealing with? What are their actual questions? What do they need to hear? Where are they struggling and being attacked? What makes them laugh? What makes them cry?
Now, you might not be physically able to spend time with ALL your students. You are human, and therefore bound by the time-space continuum. But you gotta get out there and get a sampling of what’s going on.
Your job isn’t just to communicate well – your job is to hand-deliver the Gospel to their lives in a way that’s relevant. None of us can do that effectively long-term unless we spend time with our students. You must care about the individual, not just the crowd.
When you do this, you’ll be able to speak (with alarming accuracy) about the issues they are facing. Your students will begin to think you work for the NSA and are wiretapping their texts. You’ll move away from excessive marriage and kid illustrations (nice, but not relevant to them) and be able to speak into the experiences they face day to day.
You’ll ultimately be a more effective messenger, because you’ll know to whom you’re speaking.
Best of luck, Ben.
Josh Shipp is the founder of Youth Speaker University
Have a speaking question? Tweet it to @JoshShipp