The last few days I’ve been blogging about communicating to teenagers with clarity. If you haven’t read those blogs, I encourage you to jump on my blog page and read both of them (How Many Minutes Will Kids Actually Listen, and Communicating with Clarity-USING THE STORY), as well as the discussion that followed in the comments. Great conversation.
In those blogs, I promised to chime in and cover a handful of speaking principles that have helped me communicate to today’s teenagers. Here’re the principles I’m covering:
-USING STORIES (I covered this Wednesday)
-ONLY USE GIFTED COMMUNICATORS
-USE SMALL GROUP TIME TO TEACH
-USE PROFESSIONAL RESOURCES
So today I’m going to talk about a principle that should be obvious, but is probably one of the most ignored principles of the bunch…
Only Use Gifted Communicators:
We all have gifts. Paul talks about these gifts in I Corinthians 12. He gives the analogy of body parts. This is a great analogy. Would you try to walk two miles on your eyeballs? Would you try to listen with your bellybutton? Would you try to talk with your elbows? (Okay, so I used a few body parts that Paul didn’t mention. Don’t do this with a jr. high audience… it will surely digress even worse.)
So why do we constantly try to force people into molds that they don’t fit?
Sadly, some people don’t realize that they are not a “mouth.” They see a mouth and they think, “I’d love to be able to do that.” Problem is… they’re a foot. And the more a “foot” tries to be a “mouth,” the more it looks like the blooper real on American Idol tryouts. Everyone in the room sees it… except the “foot!”
My wife Lori is amazing. Anyone who meets her readily admits, “Jonathan, you got yourself a winner there.” Or the people that know me and finally meet her say, “Okay, now I know where the strength in this marriage lies.” (Nice!) She’s truly remarkable.
Lori is a behind-the-scenes person. She’s great at organizing and handling minute details. She’s administered 1,000-person events without a glitch. She’s a huge asset to whatever team she’s a part of.
Guess what? She hates speaking in front of a crowd. She gets quiet, turns as red as a turnip and she second guesses everything she says. Communication isn’t her strong suit.
Does that make her a lousy team member?
Heck no. I need a “Lori” on my team. (Actually, I need about 10 “Loris.”)
It would be silly to try to make Lori into a speaker. This doesn’t mean that Lori shouldn’t ever have to learn to communicate her faith to others. Lori’s done that. In fact, she’s fantastic one-on-one. She’s discipled plenty of girls and even led a Bible Study (80% facilitation, 20% talking and leading). But I’ve never tried to force Lori into speaking.
The church needs to become better at helping people find and use their gifts. Sometimes that means having some uncomfortable conversations—like telling Chuck that you’re not going to be using him to speak to the high school kids anymore. This doesn’t mean you need to be mean.
“Chuck, you suck!”
Far from it. But someone with the gift of discernment needs to take Chuck aside an help him find his gifting.
“Chuck, I really appreciate you being willing to communicate to the high school kids every week. But let me tell you something that I’ve observed. I’ve noticed that you are amazing at hanging out with the fringe kids in our group. You have a radar for “outcasts.” The other night I saw you watching the crowd and you noticed that new kid Brian wearing all black and sitting in the back. It was awesome watching how you sat next to him and started a conversation with him. You have so much compassion for those kids. I think that’s your gift Chuck. Speaking isn’t.”
It takes a certain person to be able to initiate these conversations. (Yes, that ability is also a gift)
The church needs to become better at helping people find and use their gifts.
How do you find and develop speakers in your ministry?
1. Try out different leaders sharing their “story” for 5 minutes in front of the group. You’ll notice who feels natural up front and who doesn’t. If they are a natural communicator, affirm them in that ability.
2. Ask those “natural communicators” if they’d share a 10-minute talk a few weeks later. Give them the content for that talk (maybe a book called, 10-Minute Talks) and see how they do. Not all natural communicators are good at developing content. That is a learned skill.
3. If they do well with the 10-minute talk, then take the next step and talk with them about developing content. Give them a book that talks about how to develop Biblical talks. One of the best books ever written on the subject is Dr. Haddon Robinson’s Biblical Preaching. Ken Davis’ book, The Secrets of Dynamic Communication is another great one. Help them develop some simple, short talks and give them an opportunity to deliver these talks in a safe environment.
Before long, you might find a handful of communicators in your midst… and Chuck will experience great results using his gifts where needed.