6 Steps To Having A Young Person Speak For The First Time
I love this topic because it was on December 9th, 2007 at the ripe old age of 15 that I was given the opportunity to preach to my church, the church I’ve been a part of my entire life. I preached a simple message entitled “Following After God” and I still remember myself standing there glued to the pulpit, shaking uncontrollably. Since that time I’m grown a lot, but I’ve always wanted to talk about the delicate process of using a young person in this capacity for the very first time so here it goes, here are my “6 Steps for Having a Young Person Speak for the First Time.”
1. The Right Kind of Teen
I’m sure you can describe the perfect christian. They show up early to every service, they’re quick to volunteer, they pay their tithes, they sing in perfect harmony and clap on beat, they always respond to the worship leader and they help pray for people in the altar.
You get the idea.
Teenagers are not perfect christians. Even preachers AIN’T perfect, never will be. So don’t wait for the perfect christian to come along to use someone in ministry. Focus on three areas: the heart, faithfulness and calling.
The Heart: Look for a young person who has a real passion for church and the things of God. Depending on your youth services this one might be pretty easy to spot.
Faithfulness: Are they committed? Do they show up? Do they make the extra effort to come to special events? It’s always best to use a young person who demonstrates a commitment to the church and Jesus.
Calling: Not everyone is called to be used by God in teaching and preaching. Some people are born speakers and influencers while others find the courage to speak through their passion for God’s Word. Don’t just look to the obvious person, but find someone who is also rooted in God’s Word.
2. Popping the Question
Excuse my phrasing. I guarantee that inviting a young person to speak in one of your services is a lot easier than asking your girlfriend if she wants to be your wife. Trust me, popping THAT question is harder than you think.
When you think you have found someone, through observation and conversation, that feels like they have been called to God to preach, ask them to preach!
Ask them, don’t tell them.
Even though they may feel God pulling their heart in a certain direction, they might not be ready to make the first step of faith. Phrase in such a way that what you’re ultimately saying is this, “I’m giving you the opportunity to preach if you want to, but under no circumstances do you HAVE to do this, the decision is yours and yours alone.”
You might really, really want them to say yes, but don’t apply pressure, let the decision come from the heart. At the same time, if they decline, don’t show disappointment, because it might just discourage them from responding positively in the future when they feel more ready.
3. The Ugly, Rare “Cheerleader Coach”
The process of preparing to preach can be pretty daunting for the first time. Finding inspiration from God, doing the research and compiling an effective, clear and powerful message still challenges the most experienced preachers, so help out! Seriously, no matter how smart and capable you might feel that person is, they need your help.
Helping is not doing the work for them, but it’s providing the wisdom the young person needs to get started. Throughout the process you should be an easily accessible lifeline. The young preacher should never feel alone of come to a point where they feel helpless, they should always have you to turn to. You’re their cheerleader coach.
Cheer-leading is about providing support and energy when the team needs it most.
Coaching is about instructing the players on how to improve and make the right moves to find success.
You need to be both if the first time preacher is going to find success.
4. Business as Usual: Avoiding Hype
So a young person is scheduled to preach and you could not be more excited for them. They’ve got their notes prepared, they’ve practiced in the mirror and they’re ready to go. Even though you’re both excited, it’s better to avoid creating any hype and carry out the service as usual.
The dreadful announcement that you are going to be having a “Super Secret Special Speaker” just adds so much pressure and stress, not to mention the rumours and conspiracy theories this type of announcement will spawn. Teenagers are relentless when it comes to finding out stuff they’re not supposed to know.
Avoiding the hype pays dividends when it comes to managing the first time preachers nerves. Don’t overestimate the simplicity of this point, you’ll regret it.
5. So how do YOU think that went?
Just like I mentioned in the previous point, let the service finish as usual. You don’t need to get up and have everyone clap for the preacher because it was their first time. It’s better to close out the altar call as usual and acknowledge the highlights of the sermon next week.
Once everything is over it’s important to discuss how it went. Avoid doing it right after the service, wait a few times and set up a meeting or phone call where you can discuss how the speaker thinks they did and not how YOU think they did. It is far better for you to let them point out any shortcomings they noticed so that you can offer advice. Always give good news first.
Make this note to self: this is their first time. Remember your first time? Ya, you weren’t so hot were you? Just because you have years of experience does not mean that they need to hear every single thing they did wrong. My suggestion is that you focus on one area that they brought up that you believe they can easily fix and do better next time. Most things will improve with experience but always remember that every speaker has a different style, whatever you do, don’t try to change who they are.
6. Next Steps: Mentoring to Maturity
Stop to think about what has just happened. Some young person has just delivered their first message ever! Hopefully the experience has confirmed what they’ve felt in their heart for a long time, that they are called by God to preach the gospel.
The next step is to mentor this young preacher to maturity. This time wasn’t perfect, and next time won’t be either so don’t expect it. The rate of growth you see in them may at times be frustrating, but never give up on someone who has been called by God.
Give some next steps for the young person to follow. Maybe you buy them a book to read (please don’t just pick any book, choose a book that you KNOW will help them) or maybe give them a bible reading plan to start. Whatever it is keep in touch and get regular feedback from them on how they are growing in their relationship with God and their calling.
Above all, believe in those who God is wanting to use by giving them the opportunity to answer the call.
I’d love to hear about your first time speaking! Leave a comment.