Sometimes we can be overly protective of our pulpit/lecturn/podium/music stand/stack of old shoe boxes and somehow get the idea that we are the only ones who can talk to our youth. That within itself is an issue, but it is a particular hurdle for this post’s topic – students speaking in front of the group.
Sometimes youth leaders are unsure about letting teens give a testimony or teach in front of the group. I get it, they are often not great at it. In fact, when I ask teens if they want to give it a try, that is always their first objection, “I’m not good at talking in front of people or about faith stuff.” But the only way to get good is practicing, so here we are, talking about teens talking. We need to be encouraging teens to lead more often. If you are already doing this, great! Do it more. If you aren’t yet, great! Read this post and start, and here’s 3 reasons why:
They Need To Learn. As I stated above, teens can be bad at this. Like really bad. I’ve seen a teenager throw up in mid testimony before. Luckily, your teens have someone they know who is a teacher and does this sort of thing all the time (you, bro). Evangelism comes naturally to some, but is an important skill to all Christians, so helping teens to feel comfortable sharing their faith, their testimony, even teaching lessons to a group is paramount. Give them the opportunity and the tools to succeed, then help them grow from the experience, rinse and repeat.
Because They Have The Cred. Teens have a built-in tool when it comes to sharing their testimony with other teens: they are actual teens. They deal with the same things their audience deals with. They know what’s really going on out there. Their testimony and sharing can be incredibly powerful to your other students because it is coming from someone who knows where they are. As talented as a teacher, preacher or leader you are, you don’t have that kind of cred. If you equip teens to bring the message to other teens, you will be shocked at the success rate they experience and how your ministry begins to grow and bear fruit.
Because They Are Christians. Christians need to be able to share their stories. Even if they are not a gifted speaker, they need to share how God has shaped and changed their lives. Moses had a stutter; God uses anyone and everyone to speak to the world. There are too many adults who don’t know how to share their faith that we have become a culture that is too awkward to save itself. Christians need to be able to go out and make disciples, I think I read that somewhere once. Teens learning and honing their skills early will help them to be better at their commission from Jesus.
Remember that you were a teen once, and perhaps you had the opportunity to speak and share your faith. Maybe that was what helped you discern your call into ministry work. Or perhaps you were never given the opportunity to speak and share. Imagine where you would be now if you had been practicing since you were young. Imagine all the people you could have been ministering to and that could have come to Jesus. So, my fellow control freaks, it’s time to open the mic and let the students give it a whirl. Make sure to be there as a support and give them all the tools and advice they will need, but also let them learn to be better through success and difficulty. God will show you and your ministry such things through the mouths of students, so brace yourself and enjoy the ride!