One of the great joys of being a youth pastor is teaching the Bible. I think for most of us, it was the joy we get from teaching the Bible that brought to youth ministry in the first place. And, if we are honest with ourselves, every one of us thinks that we can improve on the way we communicate with our students. My “day job” is as a teacher, so I am communicating with people every day, all day. Here are a few of the tips I’ve learned over the past ten years as a communicator, both in a school and in a church.
If possible, use visuals in your talk. Students will remember what you are teaching on better if they have a visual picture to “hook” that lesson on. Your visuals don’t need to be huge or elaborate. They can be as simple as a PowerPoint presentation with the Scripture verses on it. In all likelihood, you have students who are visual learners and something other than you will grab and hold their interest.
Use humor, but only if it is real. Everyone loves a humorous communicator. That is why Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld are so popular and beloved (no matter how crass they may be at times). Humor breaks down walls and puts the listener at ease. However, you cannot force it. There is nothing worse than a person trying to be funny when he isn’t. You can’t force a joke. The best thing to do is practice your talk and make sure you are prepared. The more comfortable you are, the easier it will be to insert humor as appropriate.
Be true to who you are. One of the best, and most infuriating, things about students is their ability to smell a fake. If you stand up to teach or preach and you are insincere or try to be something you are not, they will know immediately. It would be like me trying to pull off wearing skinny jeans. You need to discover who you are as a communicator and stay true to that. There is a very humorous clip on YouTube of Matt Chandler impersonating Mark Driscoll and demonstrating what happens when someone else tries to be Mark Driscoll. It always goes wrong. Spend time praying and ask God to show you who you are as a teacher and communicator. Know who you are and stay true to that.
While there are many other things you can focus on as a communicator, these three are a good place to start. I realize only one of them is tangible, but becoming a good communicator is not an overnight activity. Trust the One who called you and you will do well as a teacher of the Word.
This guest post was written by Jonathan Pearson. Jonathan is a husband, father, and youth pastor. He is a graduate of Pensacola Christian College and Liberty University. Jonathan and his family live in Charles Town, WV. He is currently a third grade teacher while he searches for a new church in which to serve. Check his blog out and follow him on Twitter.