So far in this series, we have looked at practical ways to teach better. We’ve looked at the must have for writing better sermons, as well as how to find your voice. Today we continue with the third and final part of the "Teaching Better" Series.
We all want to be better teachers. Unfortunately, too many of us sabotage our own growth by ignoring this one principle. Great communicators get it, while poor communicators ignore it. It may be the most difficult adjustment for most youth workers, but it’s also the most impactful.
So what’s the final key to teaching better? If you want to become a better communicator and teach better, you’ve got to give up the platform. There’s no way around it.
I missed this principle for a long time, and I paid the price for it. My communication skills took off like a rocket once I caught it though! I used to teach students a minimum of two times a week for 50 weeks. I also taught on some weekends at my church and in the community for events and local FCA’s. This added up to me teaching around 100 times a year. The result was finding myself spread way too thin and burning out.
I was a better than average communicator who was barely tapping into my potential. Then a friend challenged me to give up the platform and the mic. He challenged me to speak better by speaking less. It sounded crazy and uncomfortable, but I gave it a try. And when I did, I just got better and better!
The truth is that no one can teach well 100 times a year. I don’t think we can teach well at 52! The best communicators I know average speaking closer to 35 times a year, and they protect this number at all costs. It’s difficult at first and will take intentionality, but it’s definitely worth it!
Giving up the platform will require you to do a few uncomfortable things. 1). You will have to give other people a chance. 2) You will have to give up some time to teach new communicators. 3) You will have to give up control. My guess is this doesn’t sound like much fun. It didn’t for me. However, I hope it sounds necessary.
When we give up the platform to others and let them teach, it always gives back to us. Giving up the platform is not an expenditure of time, it’s an investment! It will give you back much more than you’ll give up. Here are three ways that giving up the platform will give back to your ministry.
3 Gains from Giving up
1) It gives you rest from stress.
Wednesday (Sunday) is ALWAYS coming. If you’re the only one teaching your youth group, you will be the lid to it’s growth! Think about it. What’s your reward for teaching well and knocking it out of the park? The pressure to do it all over again in 7 days! This cycle is exhausting and stressful. Simply put, it’s unhealthy!
Teaching the Word of God takes a lot of preparation and energy. If you’re not exhausted after teaching, I’m not sure you’re doing it right! Giving up the platform to others takes a significant load off of you. It gives you a rest from the stress of preparing something new every week.
You will teach better and feel better teaching 35 times a year than you will teaching every week. You will have more energy, and your students will thank you! The only way to escape the stress is to share the platform with other students and volunteers. You won’t regret it once you do!
2) It gives you time to prepare.
I can put together an “okay” sermon in a week, but I have way more impact when I have more time. I think of it like marinating a good steak. The steak will still be good with an hour or so of time to marinate, but it can be excellent with more time to soak in the flavor around it. The same is true with a sermon. The excellence of our teaching is directly tied to the time we give it to marinate in our minds and hearts!
I don’t know about you, but the more time I have to prepare, the better my sermon will be. Giving up the platform gave me the opportunity to prepare at a whole new level. It gave me more time to seek God and listen to Him more intently. Better preparation will give you better sermons because it let’s God give you better words. When we give God time to speak into us, what He speaks out of us will always be better!
3) It gives you opportunities to coach, encourage, and evaluate.
One of my favorite things to do in ministry is to develop students and volunteers to do more ministry. I’m a firm believer that the mark of a successful ministry is how it goes on when you leave it. If I develop people to do the ministry well, my youth ministry should be in better shape when I leave it.
Giving up the platform gives you rest and time to prepare. It also gives you an opportunity to give ministry to others. After all, isn’t that our whole job as youth workers and pastors (see Eph 4:11-12?) It gives us opportunities to coach, encourage, and evaluate others around us. More importantly, it gives them an opportunity to explore their call.
Will you have to give up a some excellence when you give up the platform? You probably will. But think about it, you are only where you’re at today because someone gave up excellence to give you an opportunity. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t very good when I first began preaching. I’m so glad I had a youth pastor to gave up his platform to give me an opportunity.
Giving up the platform will give opportunity to those around you, and I believe God will bless it every time!
Five Practical Ways to Give Up the Platform
"So how do I give up the platform?” I’m so glad you asked! If you are serious about teaching better and giving up your platform, here are five practical ways to get started.
#1: Let a Student teach or give their testimony.
If you have a student you can train to teach, then let them teach. Otherwise, have them share their testimony. They will grow, students will listen, and you will get a night off to get ahead. It’s a win, win, win situation!
#2: Give a volunteer the same opportunity.
The same thing goes for volunteers. If you have a volunteer with the skills and gift to speak then you can give them an opportunity. It’s always great to let volunteers share their testimony with students as well. You can’t go wrong with this! It gives the volunteer an opportunity to develop while letting the students hear a new voice.
#3: Use video teaching.
Some people love this and others hate it. Regardless, it works! Organizations like Orange XP3 have great video teaching you can purchase, as well as great free resources from places like open.life.church. This is a great way to break up the normal way of doing things, and it’s also a creative way to give up the platform and get time back.
#4: Ask your pastor or other church leaders to teach.
If you are the only voice your students hear from your church, then you are missing a great opportunity! Inviting your pastor to teach is a great way to get time back and build a deeper connection with students. It let’s your students know that the senior pastor and the larger church care about them. It also gives your pastor a chance to cast vision and speak into the hearts of students. I would recommend doing this at least twice a year.
#5: Bring in a friend or communicator from outside your church.
Do you know another pastor or communicator that you could invite to speak? If so, this can be a great option. It will give you a break while exposing your students to a new voice at the same time.
If you want to get better as a communicator, you’ll want to give up your platform. Who can you give an opportunity to teach? What step do you need to take to get time back to prepare better? Let us know in the comments below. Also, subscribe below to get your FREE copy of the “ymLead Sermon Prep Outline!"