There is no doubt that we live in the most entertained generation in the history of the world. People don’t just watch television anymore; they sit down with their iPad, phone, and/or laptop while they “watch TV.” We are multi-taskers by nature now. When I sit in a Dr’s office waiting for an appointment, the first thing I do is pull out my phone and check Twitter. We get on YouTube, read blogs, or watch movie trailers for hours before we even realize it. A lot of our time is spent connected to technology.
Now here’s the part where you expect me to complain about how much time we spend on these things. I’ll let someone else write that blog. The reality is that this is the world we live in. This is the world that most of our students participate in and have grown up in. Elementary school kids have phones with internet on them. Some schools give kids iPads to work on. Toddlers know how to use an iPhone. As pastors and youth ministries we are fighting for the attention of these kids from a thousand different things and this will not change anytime soon. And if we are going to hope to engage them then maybe we need to consider reaching into their world. The church has often failed to recognize, engage in, or address culture , let alone be on the cutting edge of it. We can sometimes be the most resistant to change. Actually, that’s most of the time…
So what does this mean for us? It means that the way we communicate has to
be mindful of this and we have to continue to grow as ministers and ministries. The message of the Gospel does not change, but the way we communicate it must evolve. Jesus used Parables that were relevant to the people of his time to communicate the Gospel.
When I first arrived at my ministry, I was foolish enough to think I was simply entertaining enough to hold their attention. I realize now that I was stubborn on some things. The Truth of Jesus cannot be compromised, but if I can more effectively communicate this, then why wouldn’t I try. The truth is, very few people want to listen to a boring communicator and if the heart of the Gospel is Good News, which it is, then this should be exciting for people to hear.
Here’s some tips to continue to evolve:
Ask people – Ask your students and adults what they remember from your sermon. Ask them what they liked about it. It will help you understand what’s sticking in their minds
Don’t be afraid to use media – I love the spoken word and I hope that pastors never lose their ability to paint a picture through words. All of that said, there’s a reason students love GIFs, Instagram, videos. A video or a GIF will draw students in and can paint a picture better than words SOMETIMES. If you’re not a funny communicator or a great story teller then these can help you along. I spend a lot of time on Vimeo, Infinity List, and blogs finding ways to better illustrate points.
Work on it – Are you “fine” with how you teach? If you communicate in front of your students a lot, you should never stop working on your communication. Work on your pace, rhythm, volume, and pausing. It will start coming more natural and will make you feel more confident.
Say less, mean more – It’s frustrating listening to a communicator dance around the point, when a concise well thought out point would have made it more powerful. This takes time and crafting of the message.
Let students communicate
– I get it… they’re not seasoned communicators. Yes, they may say something wrong. But it’s powerful when students hear from their peers. We let our students share about their experiences after a week of prayer and fasting, and it was the most powerful part of the evening.
Find your voice – You are not *insert your favorite preacher’s name* and you never will be. Stop trying to copy their voice. Definitely stop copying their sermons, it’s just lazy. Have you ever thought that listening to so many different podcasts might actually hinder your ability to find your own unique voice? I get it, there’s nothing new under the sun and we all use things we hear from others, but do not get in the habit of solely leaning on the thoughts of others. You need to hear from the Lord about what He wants to speak to your group of students.
Powerpoint can help – Our worship guy told me I should use Powerpoint more often and I told him he was an idiot… haha well maybe in not so many words. I was completely against it, but it’s hard to dismiss the value of it. It does not have to be used all the time but it can help those points really sink it.
Teach the Bible
– Students find it interesting when they learn something. Many of them have very little knowledge of the Scriptures and we are called to teach them these truths. Students will devour the Bible, if it is taught correctly and interesting. It’s God’s Word and is meant to be buried deep within our hearts.
Redeem it – As the church we tend to be hestitant about initiating change due to the culture. And we should be. But maybe instead of avoiding or resiting cultural shifts we should aim towards redeeming it. Technology can be used and abused many different ways, but it can also be used by the Redeemed to advance the Gospel. Let’s use this as an opportunity to teach our students that we don’t avoid everything in the world, we just use it differently.
I would be the first to defend that our primary purpose as ministers is not to be entertainers. I am not a standup comedian or an actor. I am a minister of the gospel who eagerly desires to communicate God’s Word well. Let us not forget that what we are teaching has great power when it is infused with the Holy Spirit. “…grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and sign and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30)
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.theyouthministryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/BrandonWeir.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brandon Weir is the Student Pastor at The Fellowship Round Rock near Austin, TX. What does Brandon love? “I love my wife Jules, my dog Ranger, Texas Tech, being outdoors, the Texas Rangers, camping, hiking, reading, Torchy’s Tacos and I love me some Jesus.”