Public Speaking Tip: Know Your Audience

It’s important when you’re speaking to an audience to know who makes up the audience.

This is an elementary public speaking principle.

I’ve been speaking for years…in school, business and ministry.

I know the principle. Most of the time I obey the principle.

Recently, though, I missed this.

I spoke to a group of 4 year old children. I told them the story of David and Goliath. It is one of my favorite stories, one I enjoyed acting out with my boys when they were young.

The problem this time. I forgot my audience.

I told the “whole counsel of God”. I shared the whole story.

Remember the part at the end…what David does to Goliath? It’s my favorite part.

He cut his head off.

Yep, I shared it. To the 4 year old children. My audience.

Have you ever seen the bright eyes of surprise on a 4 year old?

Yep, I saw them.

Yep, I heard from the teachers too. No parents yet.

Here’s an elementary public speaking principle:

Know your audience.

A Summary of Parenting Encouragement

Recently I preached a message on parenting. A man in the church took notes. In fact, he too great notes. He asked my permission to send his summary to a Boy Scout troop. I asked his permission to share his summary here.

A Summary of Parenting Encouragement

Of primary importance is to realize that as parent you have power over the child’s heart. The son likes to be “just like Dad”, the daughter plays “mommy” doing whatever her mother does, and little girls say “I am going to marry Daddy”. Take this fact very seriously.

First of all formulate a plan. What characteristics do you want your child to have, what beliefs, what do you want your adult children to be? It doesn’t have to be written but time must be taken to intentionally set goals and strategize. Don’t “fly by the seat of your pants”. The Bible says “train a child in the way he should go”.

Secondly, invest in your child. What you teach your child is what they will teach your grandchildren and so on for generations. Of primary importance is to develop character skills. This is the greatest return on investment, more important than anything else, even education. This doesn’t mean leave everything else out but you get back most where you invest most.

Thirdly, direct your child. Direction is probably the most lost fact in today’s parenting. The child has become the director. The child doesn’t know what they want or need. They are trying to know the boundaries. The parent knows what is best and what is needed. The parent knows what foods are needed, what rest is needed, the best use of time, what education means, etc. Direct the child when they are very young as you will not be able to gain control in the teenage years (at least it will be extremely hard). Remember, a child’s actions when they are young are their actions when they are adults. It is OK to say NO to a child. The goal is to establish control over the young child and gradually release it as they grow older. Remember you have a child for just a few years to train for a lifetime.

Fourthly, as the child grows older, let your influence become more of a factor in your child’s life. It is difficult to transition from direction to influence. Be sensitive to when a child is trying to direct and when he needs help in decision making (influence). Remember, you have power over the child’s heart, don’t push too hard. Be careful not to make an unimportant situation a primary battle of the household.

Lastly, model for your child what goals you have determined. Children see what their parents do and do the same. If you want your child to be considerate, be considerate, not rude. If you mistreat the restaurant server, why should you not expect your child to mistreat their teacher. Show your child what you want. Reflect on your actions and words to be sure these are what you want for your children. By the way, this doesn’t end for the rest of your life. You will always be a model for your children. (Also, we are a model or representative for any group that we may be a part. For instance, church members model what the church believes, rightly or wrongly.)

These are principles, not promises. Be intentional with your parenting, your marriage, your relationships. Pray for parenting skills all your life. Stop now and think about your parenting.

Here is the sermon from which he pulled these notes.

Things that make you grow up…

I’ve often heard it said some people “never grow up”. It is said in a humorous way. My wife may say that about me at times. But, many times it is said in a not so funny way, usually speaking of a person’s continued immaturity.

I have another thought. Maybe for some people it is that they have never had an experience that instills maturity in them. It’s possible.

I’ve personally experienced and observed that there are some circumstances in life that bring more automatic maturity…a sort of forced growing up mentality.

Here are 7 things I’ve seen force someone to grow up quickly:

Failure

A first child

Sudden authority

Tragedy

Losing a parent

Having to make it on your own

Betrayal

You can mature naturally. You can grow up over time. But, in my experience, you grow up faster when life experience grows you up. You don’t have to grow in these experiences. Some don’t. You either own up to the challenge, or you don’t. But, when you do, you grow up faster. At least, that’s been my observation.

(By the way, that’s why I believe in giving young leaders experience where they can grow. You can read a post about that HERE.)

Have you ever been forced into a new season of maturity? What caused you to suddenly “grow up”?

What would you add to my list?

Draw a Line in the Sand (Or on the Wall)

Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand…

Or on the wall…or in your mind.

I’ve worked with many people who can’t seem to move forward, because of a past failure or disappointment.

It could be a marriage damaged by an affair. The injured spouse is not sure she (or he) can ever trust again. After counseling, time to heal, and repentance on the part of the offender, the injured spouse simply can’t seem to forgive and move forward to build the marriage again.

It could be after a personal failure. The person feels they will never recover, so they refuse to take another risk. They remain miserable, but they can’t seem to pull themselves out of the emotional hold they’ve placed on their life. They may not be able to internalize the truth of God’s grace in their life.

It could be after a financial loss. The person can’t see that life will be any better than it is right now, so they refuse to invest or dream again.

Whatever the reason…and I’ve seen many…life has a way of sucking the passion to move forward out of us at times.

In circumstances like these (and many others), one mental “exercise” I’ve done is to draw a mental line indicating a starting over point. I’ve even drawn it on a board for people, such as the picture above. There’s nothing “magical” about this practice. It’s simply an opportunity to remind yourself of the truth that you can “forget what is behind and press forward”. (Philippians 3:13) You can begin again. You can make better choices. You can get up (again) and take another risk on life. You can do it today!

Get out a piece of paper, if it’s serious enough, draw it on the wall of your house, but maybe just a mental picture…then sign and dated it…Yesterday was then, today is today, and tomorrow is tomorrow. Move forward from this point with the rest of your life.

Do you need to draw a line?

Wherever you draw the line, draw it today!

How to Have a Healthy Children’s Ministry?

This is a guest post by Greg Baird. Greg is founder of KidMin360. help churches build great children’s & family ministry. His passion is to assist children’s & family leaders to serve kids, parents, volunteers, staff & other leaders to their full capacity. Greg’s experience is gained over 20 years as a children’s pastor.

Here is Greg’s post:

How To Have A Healthy Children’s Ministry

Effective Children’s Ministry is critical to a healthy church. It impacts the church in all directions. Virtually everyone in the church is linked to Children’s Ministry in some way or another. Parents often judge their commitment (and attendance!) to the church based on whether their kids like the Children’s Ministry. And, of course, we all know the spiritual impact that can be made in the lives of children.

So how do we create healthy Children’s Ministry? Every church is different, every ministry unique, and it takes far more than a blog post to answer that question. However, here’s the framework of a model that I’ve found applies to each environment I’ve ever associated with over the past 25 years:

1. Establish a strong foundation. Focus on:

  • Vision that is effectively aligned with the overall vision of the church.
  • A commitment to strong leadership, not just functional administration.

2. Evaluate as a matter of habit. Focus on:

  • Systems, structures & processes that empower leaders.
  • Creating avenues of communication between staff & within Children’s Ministry.

3. Embrace spiritual formation. Focus on: 

  • Creating a purposeful plan beginning at birth.
  • The centrality of the Gospel in all teaching.

4. Equip others to do the work of the ministry. Focus on:

  • Equipping parents to disciple their own children.
  • Developing leaders (not just followers) to assume responsibility for ministry.

5. Engage children for life change. Focus on:

  • Environments that capture their imagination.
  • Methods that capture their heart.

Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? No. Children’s Ministry is the single most complex department in the church. No other ministry reaches or involves so many individuals or impacts so many other departments, targets such a broad audience developmentally, requires such intense oversight, or is liable for so many risks.

But no other ministry can spiritually impact at any deeper level than children’s ministry. The spiritual outlook of a person is formed in the early years, and studies show that 85% of those who accept Christ will do so between the ages of 4 & 14.

A healthy Children’s Ministry is critical to a healthy church.

What would you add for creating healthy Children’s Ministry?

For more help with children’s ministry, in the areas of staffing, coaching, training, development or resources, check out the KidMin360.