Planning a Successful Outreach Event Part 4: Speaker
I love doing outreach events. God has given me a passion for evangelism. It gets me excited when students tell me they accepted Christ after one of my events. Last year, I did an outreach event in Texas that still resonates with me. Several dozen people accepted Christ that night, but what stood out most was a teenage girl who came up to me after the show. She said, “Bryan, tonight was the first time I’ve ever prayed before in my life. I gave my life to Jesus.”
I do want to emphasize that if you are going all out on an Outreach Event, then you should invest in a professional speaker who has a heart for evangelism. One of the easiest mistakes you can do is give in to the temptation to be the speaker. This is not a sleight against your ability, but as a youth minister, your focus needs to be on planning the event, getting students there, and organizing the details. You shouldn’t have to worry about speaking as well. As ministers, we sometimes like to put too much on our own plates, and try to do everything, when it would be best for us to give up a little control and share the load.
When it comes to the Outreach event, you should bathe your decisions in prayer. From the smallest decisions to the biggies like “God, who has the right message and delivery for my event?” This is the most important part of your event–how the Gospel will be presented to the students.
I would suggest:
1. Ask to see a speaker’s statement of faith
2. Ask to see a video of the speaker sharing the Gospel. Here is a presentation cut from a show I did.
The idea of a unique speaker/artist is something that really breaks down walls in the lives of the students in your community.
3. Make sure you hire an artist who shares the Gospel in their show. You would be surprised at how many Christian artists don’t have a Gospel element to their show. These guys would be great for entertaining, but you want someone who does it all. In my opinion, God has called me to evangelism first and to entertainment second. If I didn’t share the Gospel in my show, then I would be wasting what God has given me.
If you are doing an outreach event where your audience is primarily people who are not involved in church, then think about bringing in a unique speaker. That’s one of the things about our ministry that catches people’s attention. Karla and I have performed in places and have had people accept Christ who would never enter the door of the church, but they will happily go and see a “magic show.”
I have learned that students have to trust you before they are willing to listen to you. You can get up and talk until you are blue in the face, but if they don’t trust you, then you are wasting everyone’s time. The walls and barriers in these students lives are strong, but not unbreakable. God takes the gifts and abilities of unique artists and uses them to tear these walls down and open the ears and hearts of the audience.
I can speak from personal experience on this. Students will see me perform illusions and mentalism. I win them over, because they enjoy the show and relate to me, which causes them to want to trust me. This allows them to be very receptive to the Gospel because they want to hear what I have to say.
That one’s of the most rewarding thing about doing the type of ministry that I do, is to see people who have never heard the Gospel before accept Christ. It’s hard to fathom sometimes that there are people in America who know nothing about Jesus or the Bible, other than what they see on Comedy Central.
My personal preference is that if you are going to bring in a unique speaker, then it is best to skip the band all together, unless you do follow the tips laid out in yesterday’s band blog. Most artists’ shows are stand alone acts. Their shows have the drive and the draw to keep the attention and accomplish the goals of building trust and sharing the Gospel.
However in the event that you have a speaker and a band, here are a few tips.
From my perspective, the transition between band and speaker can break an event and lose audience attention.
My show is high energy. One of the biggest struggles sometimes is shifting the energy back up after a band that ends their set on a slow praise and worship song. Don’t get me wrong there is a place for worship music, but the energy shift shouldn’t be a jarring change that can be felt. The entire event needs to be a flow, from the moment doors open to the moment the lights go out and the doors are locked.
A second tip is to have a speaker whose technical aspects are self contained. For example, in my show-the only job for your sound guy is to make sure my mic is loud enough and there is no feedback. He gets an easy job as far as sound cues, because we control all of our music cues from backstage. We like to make everyone’s load as light as possible in relation to our show.
This was a long post, but it is something I am passionate about–seeing people come to know Christ. Matthew 28:19-20