Have you ever listened to someone talk and you are either bored to death or have no idea what they are saying. Not to long ago I attended a seminar by a brilliant scholar the only problem was he decided to read the entire 3-hour lecture off of his iPad and he used words that had me scrambling for Wikipedia. It was brutal to say the least.
This started getting me to thinking about how I communicate. I have been told before that I am a good speaker and I do have a gifting for it, but is that solely what makes a good speaker. I know the answer is a resounding no.
A few months ago I was speaking to a group of students on prayer and felt like I had laid everything out crystal clear and was engaging. I was ready to finish up for the night when I decided to ask if anyone had any questions and boom a hand shot up “What do we mean when we say ‘Amen’?” While I had gone through almost everything I had taken for granted a little piece of language we so often overlook.
Now I don’t think I failed my talk and I was glad I was able to go back and explain what ‘Amen’ means. But it did cause me to think about what if I was that speaker I listened to? What if I come across as an alien speaking another language to my students. I try really hard to use their language and simplify things down to solid points but sometimes I miss it.
My lesson was simple: I need to work at re-examining my language. We sometimes get so used to insider language that we forget it’s insider. Check myself anytime I speak or answer a students question. The second part of the lesson was this: Take time to allow for questions to be asked. Often in ministry I find I am the one talking or asking the questions. Try to plan time to let students ask questions. We often learn better from asking then answering anyways.
My questions to you are simple:
- Are you checking your language regularly? (do all your students know what sin, amen, salvation and Christ mean?)
- How much time do you give students to ask you questions? Do you allow them time to process and clarify what you have talked about?
Kyle Corbin has been serving as a volunteer or youth pastor for over 10 years. He is currently the youth pastor at the Bridge Church in North Vancouver B.C. You can follow his blog at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @CorbinKyle.