You know what’s funny (and a bit sad)?
That throughout my entire middle school and high school student ministry career, I can hardly remember any talk or sermon given by my youth pastors. And if you, for some reason, actually end up reading this Josh or Mary Jo, please know that I don’t blame you.
It was totally on me.
Do you know which talks I can vividly remember nearly every detail of?
The ones that bombed.
And I don’t mean had a small glitch. I mean epically went south and we had to call it a night.
Like when one youth pastor (not previously mentioned) literally got up on stage, gave a 5 minute talk about how he forgot to plug in his tape player but was trying to watch a movie and couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t work. Then he read one verse and said we had to be connected to the power source in order to make an impact in God’s kingdom.
Then he said “Sorry guys, that’s all I got this week.”
And we all went home.
Another time, I was the youth pastor. And in the middle of my talk, I mean right in the dead center of the sermon, a fight broke out. Not a small fight. A knock-down drag out fight of epic proportions.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve bombed a couple of talks. For one reason or another the things just degenerated into chaos and we had to tell everyone to pack it up and call their parents.
What do you do when your talk bombs? What do you do when the students revolt and you have no other option?
Try these on for size and let me know the story of when you bombed:
Have a plan
Don’t plan on your talk to bomb (or a fight to break out), but try to have a game plan for when the inevitable happens.
Does everyone go outside and play volleyball? Do you call all the parents and tell them its time to pick up their kids super early? Do you bust out the video games and get a tournament going?
Those aren’t ideal situations, but if you (and your volunteers) know the plan, then at least you can execute well.
Have a good attitude
Your students might not remember the words of your last talk, but they will certainly remember the way you reacted. If yelling and screaming is how you react to unruly students or a sermon illustration that sets off the fire alarm, students will certainly remember.
Make sure your attitude is full of grace and truth.
Don’t beat yourself up
My wife has to remind me that I’m human. I will make mistakes.
In light of those mistakes, remember there’s only been one perfect preacher and his crowd didn’t like what He said either.
Learn from your mistakes, adjust accordingly, and then prepare for the next time you teach.
Because, whether it’s fair or not, your students will probably better remember the talk that bombs than the one that goes off without a hitch.