This past weekend was a great reminder of the importance of feeling confident with your lesson and how confidence, or lack thereof, in a lesson has a huge impact on how well it is received.
The lesson this weekend was first and foremost a gospel presentation. We had told our students that if they brought a guest with them, their friend would hear a clear presentation of the Gospel and would get one of life's biggest questions answered: "Is it really possible to know for sure that you are going to heaven?"
We planned a really fun weekend and I felt like my talk was pretty decent, but I wasn't sold on it. It felt too long, too complicated and not easy to understand by un-churched 13-year olds. But, I had it prepped and ready to go so that's what I went with at our first service. Then, at the last minute (as I was literally walking onto the stage) I decided to try to tweak it a bit which made me feel even less confident. Nothing disastrous happened, but the lesson simply fell flat. I lacked confidence, I struggled to move quickly through too much material etc. As a result, students were not well engaged and what should have been the highlight of the weekend, actually turned into on of the low points.
In between services I decided to make one of my stories the entire focus of the message. I yanked about half my content out, made the lesson much more narrative in nature and felt WAY more confident and comfortable when I was speaking. As a result, students were totally engaged. They were making eye contact with me, listening intently and responded very well. The attendance at the second service was almost three times that of the first, but the level of chatter, and the amount of distractions was cut in half.
It was a really tangible reminder of the importance of thinking through my lessons, being comfortable with the content and remembering my audience.