He Said What to My Students? Picking the Right Speaker
Have you ever had to have the awkward conversation with your camp speaker?
Most youth pastors at different times will invite someone in to speak to their students. The most common time for a guest is at a camp or retreat. Once I invited a person I knew personally to speak at a camp, but I had never heard him preach before. His style of teaching was a lot different than my own and what my students were used to. We had to have an awkward conversation about how his talks were being received by the students. He was gracious and was able to adjust a bit of his approach. The camp ended with a real positive response by the students.
Over the years I have learned a bit about how to invite, welcome and set up a guest speaker for a successful camp/retreat.
Here are a few things I have learned:
1) Begin to pray about who God might have in mind to speak at your camp/retreat. I usually try and extend the invitation 6-9 months ahead of time.
2) Get someone you know and have heard teach. Set them up by giving them a theme, some scripture, or even an entire outline. The more you can communicate with them what you are hoping for, the better prepared they can be.
3) Have the conversation about the honorarium as soon as they commit.
4) Send them a packing list. For example, let them know if they will need to bring their own bedding, towels, etc.
5) It is not bad to “over-communicate” with them leading up to the camp.
6) Have the honorarium for them the first night of camp. We normally have it in a gift basket waiting in their room (which should be a room to themselves). In the gift basket we have such items as mints, water, salty snacks, good chocolate, and depending on the space, a candle or room freshener.
7) We try and have a host that welcomes the speaker, checks them into their room, gives them a schedule and lets them know when they will be expected to be on for the first session. This host is normally not the YP because he or she is most likely too busy dealing with other details.
8) The host also checks with the speaker before each teaching session, making sure they are mic’d-up, have the order of service, water and anything else they might need.
9) Make sure you communicate to the speaker if you plan on introducing them, or if they should plan on introducing themselves.
10) Have an evaluation after camp. This can be done by a simple phone call, a face-to-face conversation, or even a form you have the speaker fill-out. Getting their feedback and sharing your own can help you both become stronger in your respective roles.
What are some things you have done to invite, welcome and set up a guest speaker?
Happy camp and retreat planning!
Nick Steinloski is the Student Ministries Pastor at Bethany Community Church in Seattle, WA. During his ten years on staff the church has grown to six campuses. With 25 years of youth ministry experience Nick continues to be passionate about reaching and equipping students.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.