Timing Your Messages
I have a long attention span. I can read or write for hours on end. But it takes a powerful speaker to keep me on the edge of my seat for 45 minutes. Perhaps it�s a cultural thing. After 30 minutes, I�m usually ready for a commercial. And remember, I�m motivated to learn. All too often I�ve heard a powerful 30 minute sermon lose its punch, simply by dragging out 15 more minutes. By then, I�ve often forgotten what I was so excited about.
Sometimes we work against how God made our students. Most small children seem to have some hormone that commands: "Squirm and Wiggle!" every few minutes. The wiggle hormone is still active in adolescence, more active in some than in others. Those who ignore this urge, ignore it to their own ruin. A few hints:
- Give some thought to just how much your youth can take. How long can you talk before their minds turn you off? (Face it, Tony Campolo can probably hold them a little longer than you.) Take an anonymous survey, including questions such as, "Are my messages generally too long, too short, or about right?" I generally shoot for 30 minutes.
- By spacing meaningful discussions and activities throughout your message, you can get away with a longer message. They have a chance to actively get involved - talking, interacting and thinking for themselves. Remember, kids can talk for hours on the phone without getting bored!
- Practice your messages with a timer> before you. This keeps you from having to rush through important material, or drag out the lesson and lose your punch. Also, by getting an idea of the length of your message, you can leave enough time to clinch your conclusion, and have them reflect on their action points.
- Don�t be ruled by the curriculum>! Many teachers believe in an 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt always finish the entire lesson. And woe to him who departs from the curriculum." Sometimes it�s okay to cover only one or two points. Really. And there�s always next week. They�re more likely to return if you don�t burn them out this week. Leave them charged up and eager for more!