Guest post by interlinc Editor Ken McCoy
When I was a brand-spanking-new youth pastor, with a rookie’s dream of becoming world famous as a speaker, I had a mentor who taught me about communicating effectively. He taught me about organizing my thoughts, about stage presence, about timing, and a lot more. None of it helped me become world famous (you can’t teach talent, and I don’t have enough to be THAT good) and yet I am grateful for the lessons he gave.
He told me that there are three guaranteed techniques used for effective communication. I learned to evaluate how other speakers used those techniques to reach their audiences. I noticed that some speakers overused one to the detriment of the others and that some abused, even faked, some of those techniques in what seemed to be a manipulation of the audience. But the techniques really do work great, especially when they are delivered with authenticity.
Here are those three techniques:
Controversy – If you say something outrageously controversial, you’re guaranteed that the audience will sit up and take notice. I’ve heard more than one speaker use the old standby, “Every day, people die to a Christ-less eternity in Hell, and you don’t give a *!@^!/. What’s sad is that you’re more concerned that I just said ‘*!@^!/’ than you are that people are dying to a Christ-less eternity in Hell.” Sure, it’s controversial. Yes, it does get the audience’s attention!
Intimacy – You’ve probably noticed how suddenly quiet and intense the audience becomes when a speaker becomes moved with emotion struggles to maintain composure. Some speakers have perfected that “sudden lump in the throat” technique when they want to make a point that is especially significant. If you want kids to really be attentive, just preface your point by whispering
something like, “I’ve never really told anyone this, and I probably
shouldn’t be telling it to you, but…”
Humor – God has hardwired us to laugh. We love funny people, funny situations, funny photos – anything that makes us laugh! A wise communicator will be able to use “universal funny-bone of youth ministry” to break through to an audience and communicate effectively. Jesus was a pro at using humor to get His message across. Take a look at “The Laughing Savior” article in this magazine for some examples.
Of those three techniques, my favorite is humor. It works in more places and with more people than the other two combined. Humor is a powerful tool that every youth leader should use!
The brand new YLO88 features a special DVD with several clips from some of the funniest Christians we know — Skit Guys, Tim Hawkins, Michael Jr. and others. We’ve even included Discussion Guides for those clips to help you integrate that laughter into your programming. You also get to hear from the comedians featured on the DVD as they answer questions we posed to them about their work and ministry. Check out a sample and download one of the Discussion Guides here.