My Takeaway After Speaking to About 500 High School Students

 

Yesterday I had the honorth of addressing the student body of Cascade Christian High School in Medford Oregon.

I’ve never seen a high school campus like this one, Christian or not. It was a beautiful campus, meticulously landscaped. Walking into one of the main buildings, trying to find the “Green Room”, I wandered past their Cafe, yes, you heard me right, a Cafe that rivaled Starbucks (although I don’t think they served coffee).

I was greeting at the door by one of the administrators while students began to slowly file in. After touching base with the sound man in the back and reminding him if I sucked it was his fault, I positioned myself near the front and waited for the chapel service to begin.

The worship band (all students) took the stage and began to lead everyone in worship. They were as good, if not better, than most “church” bands. After a video and some announcements, one of the band members introduced “David Jacobs, founder of Small Church Pastor.”

Now, no one calls me “David” except my mother, and Ellen if she is mad at me, but I didn’t let that throw me off. I walked up the steps, onto the stage and into the spotlights. Yes, they had lighting, impressive, although temporarily blinding, lighting. Pretending that I could see them, I began my talk.

The assistant to the Dean of Students reminded me that I had 20 minutes to speak but that I could go over a bit. I reassured her that when I’m talking to pastors about being guest speakers, one of the cardinal-rules is…never, never go over your time limit. Never!

For my introduction I decided to describe how different high school was in the 70’s, which was when I attended high school, and humiliated myself by telling them of the many “bad experiences” I had at school dances which included an demonstration of what a poor dancer I am.

My topic was “Preparing for life after high school” and I emphasized the importance of daily Bible reading. I know that sounds boring but apparently I pulled it off because at the end, when I challenged them to make a commitment to read their Bibles daily, with heads bowed and eyes closed, at least half the crowd raised their hands.

I was pleased with how things went. Many students and faculty complimented me, but the real compliment came a few hours later after I arrived home and checked my email to find a note from one of the administrators. It was only three sentences long but one of the three said, “You really connected with the students.”

There’s a difference between communicating and connecting. In fact, one might argue that you are not really communicating unless you’re connecting. My question for you is, are you connecting with your people when you preach or teach? How would one know if they are or not? Are you scratching (speaking) where they (your audience) itch? Many pastors scratch were they (the pastor) itch. This might be communication, but it seldom is connecting.

Discover a way to determine if your preaching is connecting.

Oh, if you’re wondering, I finished in at exactly 20 minutes.