Why talk for 25 minutes when you can say it in 5?
Seriously. Think about it for a moment. Picture a typical youth gathering where an adult has the opportunity to share the truth with kids. Now imagine this. A woman in her young 20’s walks to the front of the room and opens with these words. “Last year I realized that the friends I surrounded myself with were dragging me down, so I made one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever made in my life…”
For the next four minutes she shares a story of how surrounding herself with the wrong crowd led to disaster. Then she shares a scripture out of Hebrews 10 stating that we need to surround ourselves with people of encouragement—people who will help us with our faith walk, not hinder it. She closes with these words. “Think of the handful of people you spend the most time with? Are they drawing you closer to Christ… or dragging you away?”
She sits down.
Total talk time, 6 minutes and 22 seconds.
Let me ask you a question. Would that talk be more powerful if she blabbed for another 30 minutes? (I really want to know your thoughts? Please use the comment feature on this blog to chime in.)
This subject is dear to my heart. This fall I’m actually teaching a workshop on “Speaking to Teenagers with Short Attention Spans” again at the National Youth Workers Convention. In that seminar I always say, “Wouldn’t it be nice if all of us could communicate the scriptures like Francis Chan or speak with the clarity of Andy Stanley? Francis goes about 45 minutes… Andy averages about 40 minutes… I should do the same, right? Newsflash: You aren’t Chan! You aren’t Stanley. They are one in a million. So stop trying to talk as long as them!”
Every month I get the opportunity to hear youth workers speak to kids. The typical youth worker will talk to kids for about 25 to 45 minutes…. yes… sermons that feel longer than the last Lord of the Rings film. Sadly, regardless of the length and style, most of the speakers I hear today lose their audience within the first 3 to 7 minutes.
Why do we insist on torturing our kids with bad communication?
I wish this was just limited to a few isolated cases. Unfortunately, bad communication is abundant. I receive DVDs every month from people that want to be national speakers. Most these DVDs are from guys who insist that they have the gift of communication and want to speak for a living. Sometimes, watching these DVDs feels like watching the American Idol gag real. (You know, when the person applying is the only one that doesn’t realize they shouldn’t quit their day job!)
Maybe it sounds like I’m being harsh. After all, many youth ministries are run by volunteers that might not have the gift of communication. Does effective ministry require dynamic communicators?
Speaking candidly, wouldn’t most ministries prove to be much more effective if they simply knew the gifting of their leaders. In other words, Chuck isn’t a great communicator, so please stop giving him 40 minutes to talk to our kids every Wednesday night.
So what should we do?
I’m going to be blogging about this topic this week. So let me hear your comments. What are your thoughts on this subject? What should we do about this glaring struggle?