Many of my students are being or have been invited to share at other churches. When people find out that they are studying youth ministry, they ask them to speak to the young people at their church either at a camp or a conference or youth meeting. Many times, my students have never shared at anything like this, and they come to me for help. So, here is some of the advice I give them when invited to speak:

  • Find out as much about your audience that you can. What are the demographics of the group? How long have they been involved in the church? Are they Christians? Are they new Christians? Are their parents Christians? What are their ages? What experiences do you share with the group? How committed are they to Christ and the church? How big will the group be? What is their life situation?
  • Find out what topic they want you to speak about. Will your topic be the main theme of the meeting/retreat/camp? What else will they be studying? How does your topic fit into the overall theme of the activity? Why do they want you to speak about this topic? What’s their reason behind this topic? What is the purpose of the activity? What do they want to accomplish with your part of the activity? Do they have an idea for follow up of the topic?
  • Find out as much about the event that you can. Where is it? How much time do you have? Are you the only speaker? Will there be multiple talks? Will there be audio and video available? Will you have time to spend with the audience before your part? How much? Doing what?
  • What are they accustomed to, and how much liberty do you have to change that. Do they want you to be more dynamic than what they are used to? Do they want you to use the style they are used to? Will they allow for you to be different? How different can you be? How have they responded in the past?
  • The information always comes before the presentation style. (What you are going to say should be determined before you decide how you will say it.) Once you know the answers to as many of the questions as possible, you can begin to work on your part of the activity. The topic and lesson points always come before the learning activities. You must know where you want to go with the talk before you can decide what road to take to get there (drama, video, question/answer, small groups, etc). Too often, my students just tell me they want it to be dynamic, but they don’t have any idea what they want to get across to their audience. You must know this first. It seems like a no-brainer to most of us, but it’s not to those who are new to all this.

Anyway, I wanted to put down some of my thoughts so that I could better help my students in the future.