If you have guest speakers speaking in your youth ministry, you can help them hit a home run with their message by giving them the information they need to know. Whether they speak at a regular youth service, or a special event like a retreat, making sure guest speakers have all the info they need will help avoid mistakes and even painful blunders.
Here’s a quick checklist list of what you need to inform guest speakers about:
Your Youth Group:
- group size
- the students’ age (it’s important to make this specific, mostly 11-13 year olds is completely different than mostly 14-16 year olds with a few younger students mixed in)
- relevant cultural aspects, e.g. many urban kids, predominantly white, rural area, or large number of unchurched kids
- any issues that are playing in your group right now, e.g. death of a student, a teen pregnancy, issues in the community
- are there any big ‘no’s’ for speakers that you can think of?
- topic to speak about, if applicable
- the topics that have been tackled in the last year, so they don’t pick a topic or passage that was done recently
- if part of an event or retreat: what the others will be speaking about and how their message should fit in
- desired length of the message
- do speakers need to prepare a handout beforehand? If so, how do they need to deliver this and when?
- do you need discussion starters or questions for afterwards or for in the small groups?
- do you need the title of the message by a certain date? And a short description for promotional purposes?
- any theological items that need to be either discussed or avoided, for instance because of controversy
- available technology and props, eg Powerpoint/Keynote, mic, video, whiteboard etc.
- what they should bring themselves, if needed
- formats for Powerpoint or Keynote presentation and how to deliver these (email? Dropbox? usb stick? Mac or Windows?)
- type of stage (if applicable) and lectern (this can be important for some speakers because they will be used to smaller or bigger stages, and need to prepare accordingly)
- is there anything else you need from the speaker, like a short bio, picture, etc? If so, let him/her know exactly what, in what format, and by when you need it.
- send the exact address, including a zip code and/or GPS for their sat nav when necessary and a phone number where someone can be reached in case the speaker is delayed
- most speakers appreciate a schedule for the whole service, so they know when they’re up
With this checklist, you and the guest speaker should be well prepared for a talk in your youth ministry!