One of the hardest things about communicating is knowing if you did well when it’s all said and done. You put in the work, deliver the talk, and then walk offstage and think, “Hmmm, I wonder how that went…”
How do you know if you did a good job? How do you know if you were effective? How do you know if students walked away hearing what you hoped they would hear?
As a student pastor who communicates every week, I know what it’s like to wonder. And I also know what it’s like to fail… a lot! I can’t tell you how many talks I’ve given that landed somewhere between amazing and terrible.
And you know why? Because I wasn’t sure what my win was. I mean, I knew the ultimate result I wanted to have: I wanted students to come to know and follow Jesus. However, I wasn’t entirely sure what needed to be true of my talk in order for that to happen every week.
That’s when something changed.
I remember the day I first discovered the three things that need to happen in every talk in order for me to walk away feeling like it was a win. Suddenly things became specific. It just clicked. I had a game plan for giving a great talk, and it’s totally changed my ministry since. Not only did my talks get better, but eventually my prep times started to decrease drastically as well. And come on, isn’t that what we all want?
So what did I figure out? Well, here are three things I think you absolutely have to do in every student talk to walk away with a win.
1. Get students eyes from their phones to your face. Students don’t show up caring about what you have to say. For the most part, they don’t show up caring about what anybody has to say! You have to win their attention. There’s a crucial moment in every sermon where you have to make your audience care about what you’re talking about. You have to make what you’re saying become more compelling than whatever they’re currently doing or thinking about. That’s your challenge, and when you can do it, you’re on your way to a win.
2. Take your passage from dead to alive. Reading the Bible is great. However, just because it’s read doesn’t mean that it’s understood or received. In fact, many of our students know what it’s like to read or hear the Bible and not understand it or get anything out of it. There’s a huge moment in every talk when the passage needs to come alive to your students. You need to present it so clearly, vividly, and memorably that light bulbs go off. That’s when they lean in further and stay engaged with what you’re talking about because they suddenly understand it in a new, more exciting way.
3. Push your point from Sunday to Monday. We are working with a group of people who have the attention span of small puppies. Here’s the question that should haunt us every single time we speak: “Will what I say today make it with them to Monday?” The reason that question should bother us is because we’re not just trying to preach the Word, we’re trying to plant the Word. There’s a crucial moment in every talk when you need to help them go from simply hearing something to doing something about what they heard. You need to leave them with something so compelling that they won’t leave it at the door when they leave on Sunday. Instead, they’ll have it planted in their hearts and minds as they back to school on Monday.
Start with those three things, and I promise you’re going to feel more of a win every time you walk onstage. Now go get it! We’re praying for you!
Want more on how to accomplish those three things week in and week out?
Looking for more tips just like these? Join the movement at SpeakingtoStudents.com.