I have got to say that one of my favrit stories to tell about speaking to junior high students would definitely be the Braveheart message I gave some years ago. being the hip and with-it guy that i am, i was always looking for ways to be creative and different - i still do. it is good to bring stuff the kids that they do not expect and send them home with something that they can remember. this instance was one of those.
in the days leading up to one of my commitment messages i was looking for a way to present the Gospel in a way that the kids had not seen before. and keep in mind that i set up my program so that we gave an opportunity for kids to give their lives to JC every couple months or so. we had tons of students come through the midweek ministry and i wanted to make sure that kids had the chance. so, towards the end of the year i was running out of clever ideas and wanted to make this one memorable... it was.
i remembered the seen in Braveheart right before the first major battle; you know, the one where he gives the dope speech and then the Scots kick some major booty. and my favrit part about that was the blue warpaint that he wore on his face. yeah, he was straight gangsta with that madness going on. so, since i was planning on talking about passion and commitment to stuff that you believe in, with spiritual warfare and all that jazz in mind, i thought i would surprise the kids and come out on stage with identical warpaint for my message.
i figured it would get a great laugh and then i could have some fun talking like William Wallace and make a bunch of jokes and go into the invitation to a life with JC in a lighthearted but meaningful way. so the last upbeat song is done and all the kids are riled up and ready for me to come out and screaming for the band and messing around with one another. then all the lights go dim and MO walks on stage. the kids were having tons of fun like always and i couldn't hear a thing. then my I.T. guy hits the lights and it shines right on me - i couldn't wait! and then it happened...
you could hear a pin drop. every person in the place, including staff (who also had no idea whatsoever), were completely and utterly silent. my entire plan had backfired. i was standing on stage looking like Braveheart with no where to go. you may have been in a similar situation; one where you were not ready for the reaction you were going to get from your audience. there were like three hundred peeps just waiting for me to do - well, i don't know. i mean, if i would have pulled out a sword or a ball and chain or sacrificed a chicken - or whatever - it would not have gotten me out of the awkwardness. so, i did what i did best... improvise.
i proceeded to act as if that were the reaction i was going for. when in reality, i had no idea what i was going to do. the message was pretty low key and serious. and halfway through my talk i realized that this may be the best thing that could have happened. at one point when i was getting crazy i looked at a one of the seventh-graders and he was completely frozen, prolly 'cause he thought i was going to stab him or something. it was hilarious. tons of kids dedicated their lives to JC that nite and i know that God was prolly rollin on the floor watching the whole thing.
my point... you never know what you are up against and sometimes you are going to be standing on stage or wherever and you are going to have no idea what to do. but you cannot panic and you gotta be ready to bring it! and if you trust God and do what you know your audience will respond to, it will be all good. but if you are out of touch with your peeps then you will fail to communicate. and you cannot fail at this; you are the one who is called to get it done. know your audience. after that nite i made sure that i played out the different scenarios in my head whenever i was going to speak somewhere. i know that there was always a possibility for something to go not as planned. i'll tell you this much, though. next time i would be ready.