If you’re a communicator, maybe you sometimes feel stuck in a rut. Every week, you get up and talk and students half-heartedly listen (while simultaneously messaging friends on Snapchat). Then they walk out of the room and you’re left wondering, “Did that even matter?”
This week on the Think Orange Podcast, we’re joined by Jamey Dickens, Director of High School Ministry at Buckhead Church, and Ben Crawshaw, Creative Director of XP3 High School. They help us rethink how we engage with students, encourage us to show empathy to those who seem apathetic, and help us understand what a win might look like in our large group ministries.
Welcome to Episode 19 of the Think Orange Podcast.
Jamey Dickens begins the conversation on speaking to students (5:42)
Sometimes what you think you communicated is not what students heard (7:26)
The tension of wanting to reach students, but not connecting in a way that sticks (8:30)
Communicating week after week after week is hard (11:20)
If we’re going to reach this generation, we have to become experts in bridging the Sunday to Monday gap. (11:55)
Joseph Sojourner interviews Ben Crawshaw (12:27)
Challenges that might keep students from being engaged in teaching (13:29)
Students aren’t necessarily apathetic—they’re distracted (16:18)
Don’t give up and continually self-evaluate (18:40)
Know who you want to be as a communicator (22:07)
Shifts in attention span across age groups (24:50)
Clear wins for communicating to students (26:00)
• Their eyes look up
• Scripture comes alive
• The bottom line spans from Sunday to Monday
Advice for communicators frustrated with students being on their phones (32:42)
Engaging apathetic students without creating conflict (34:51)
Leveraging social media and tech to engage students in new ways (41:40)
We have the opportunity to connect students with truth at a time when they’ll remember it the best (45:05)
Resources for speaking to students who don’t seem to care (47:23)
Dave and Ashley’s final thoughts (53:48)
People, Places & Helpful Resources
Free e-book from Reggie Joiner: Sometimes It Takes A Party
Blog: Orange Leaders – a blog with strategies, tips and ideas from leaders influencing the faith and character of the next generation
Jamey is a pastor, speaker, and writer of student content for North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to serving as the Director of High School at the Buckhead campus, he is also one of the voices speaking into the content and strategy for all six locations in the Atlanta area. As a long-time friend of Orange, he’s had the privilege of being a speaker, writer, and creative resource for XP3 Student Curriculum. In his spare time he can be found speaking at student events around the country, coaching new and aspiring communicators, and hanging with his beautiful wife Sara and their two children Cashman and Peyton.
Ben is the Creative Director for XP3 High School. He graduated from Lee University in Cleveland, TN where he studied English and begged for food. Prior to working at reThink, Ben was the Creative Director of the high school ministry at North Point Community Church. In his free time, you can find Ben doing the Braves’ Tomahawk Chop, watching non-horror movies, or eating Reese’s Pieces.
Quotes from This Episode
Ideas to Influence the Next Generation
Communicating to students week after week can be incredibly rewarding—but it can also be exhausting. It’s hard to have a fresh new plan every week. And even on the days when you think your message was top-notch, you may still walk away wondering, “Did that make a difference?” Here are three things you can do this week to make your communication with students even better:
Have a plan.
The first step in communicating to students is knowing what you want to say before it’s time to say it. And if you want to influence the next generation, you’ll need a refined message revolving around a limited number of big ideas. Once you know what the core messages are you want to communicate, create a rhythm for how you’ll talk about these things throughout the time a student is in your ministry. For an example of XP3’s scope and cycle, check out this post from the XP3 blog, “New Scope & Cycle Resources for XP3 Partners.”
Think the best.
When you see a kid on their phone or closing their eyes while you’re talking, it’s easy to assume the worst. You think things like, “Are they bored?” “Do they not love Jesus?” or, “Why do they have such a bad attitude?” But keep in mind that a distracted or disengaged student doesn’t equal a negative or apathetic individual. When you see a student who seems to be tuned out, take a moment to consider all the things that might be happening in their world: problems at school, the argument they had with their parents, or the cute girl across the room who refuses to acknowledge they exist. It might not be that the student doesn’t care about what you have to say—they might just need you to empathize with the things they care about more.
Rewrite the win.
It’s not always easy to measure if students are engaged. They’re usually not inclined to write you a letter every Monday, detailing what they learned from your talk. And sometimes you think they heard the message and totally “got it”—but then you find out nothing changed in their life during the week. But change doesn’t happen overnight. For some students, the win might be that they looked up from their phone during the application. Or it might be a small group leader coming to find you after group to let you know her group just had the best conversation ever.
Conversation Starters For Your Church
What challenges are students facing that might cause them to disengage during large group?
If our ministry could only talk about three things for the duration of a student’s time in it, what would they be?
How would we know our communication with students was effective? What would we see as a result?
When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at daveadamson.tv.
Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.
Join Us Next Week
Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.
We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.