Recently, after speaking to a group of middle school students, I asked a girl how I could make my message better. She replied, “Well…don’t be afraid to cuss every once and a while.” I didn’t realize that my speaking was so dry that our students wish that I would just cuss a little to spice things up. If they only knew the pain that I go through weekly, wrestling with what I should say. After years of beating my head in to get something prepared, this fall I decided to take a different approach. I decided to team up with our associate youth pastor and take the team method. Now on a weekly basis, instead of beating my head on the ground by myself, I do it with him. We start with a subject and take the time to develop a teaching outline together. Then we usually present together. Our teaching effectiveness has greatly increased.
There are several benefits to taking this approach. One is that I believe that Scripture was supposed to be read out loud in a group. In the New Testament churches for example, the letters that were written to the churches were read aloud to the congregation. Also, when studying together we can wrestle with theological topics together. It is nice to have somebody that can say, “I think that may be heresy.” Besides correction there is also a large element of creativity that comes forth in a group setting.
There are also benefits to presenting messages as a team. First, different types of students connect with different types of personalities. Tim, our associate, is more organized and linear so he connects with the geeks. Second, this style forces the message to be more conversational and less of a download. Students love to become participators in weekly services. Being able to go back and forth in the message creates more of a conversation. Last, this style promotes discussion following the service. Being more conversational gives the students permission to continue talking about teaching points after the service.
I would encourage you to try the team approach to studying and giving messages. It has added life and fun to both the study and presentation of messages. Find another staff member, volunteer, or parent that has good communication skills and give it a try. If your students are also asking you to “cuss” once in a while in your messages, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.
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