As you know, if you’ve been reading, for quite some time, I’ve occasionally been running little installments called “Mama’s K.I.S.S.” I know that lots of readers could give many more and far more creative ideas than I can offer, but these installments are just a few tried and true and mostly old-fashioned ideas for putting service hearts in our kids. This is number 57 of a list of one hundred ways we train our kids to serve. K.I.S.S. is an acronym for “Kids In Service Suggestions”.
In my judgment, there are few activities which actually sharpen as many skills of service as does public speaking.
Public speaking builds boldness that’s necessary for effective evangelism in a world that is intimidating toward and sometimes even hostile to Christianity. It sharpens skills for effective communication. This is needed when we communicate the gospel in any setting. Public speaking, about any topic that’s in any way controversial, demands the development of reasoning and critical thinking skills. These developed talents of the best minds are critical for answering the skeptics in Bible studies. Public speaking teaches our kids how to be persuasive without leaving logic behind. This is what Paul did when standing before Agrippa in Acts 26. Finally, public speaking gives your kids opportunities to go where the average child, who’s afraid of getting before people, will never go. Those places, some of them political arenas and some of them mission fields, where few go, are still places that need God’s truth.
A quick google search of “oratory contest” yields several great venues for high schoolers. (My kids loved the National Right to Life Oratory contest (https://www.nrlc.org/students/oratory-contest/rules/) and were representatives to (and of) the states of Alabama and Tennessee on multiple occasions. This opened doors for them to speak on pro-life related issues in other venues, locally, as well. We were enriched, as a family, by the Lads to Leaders program (https://www.lads2leaders.com) and it prepared them for speaking. I believe this influence was a large contributing factor to the speaking that they do today in behalf of the kingdom. I believe it made them more evangelistic, too, as they learned to face and overcome fears associated with looking a critical audience in the eye and stating truth. I know they (and I) are, at best, still woefully inadequate in our representations of the gospel to the world, but every bit of preparation to face the giants of atheism, relativism and materialism in our world today is needed. Homeschooling programs like Classical Conversations offer regular speaking opportunities for all ages.
But if programs are unavailable to you, I’d work hard to make the venue for your children to get to speak before audiences, even small audiences. Ask your elders or church leaders if they can have appropriate Saturday morning devotionals in which the children are presenting little lessons for encouraging audiences. Start a book club in your home and have the kids present their reviews of books that are filling them with moral and ethical lessons. Have a game night in your home once a quarter and begin the fun with letting one of your children present a short, well-prepared lesson before the games begin. Ask your minister for opportunities in hospital or nursing home rooms to speak on topics that will bless the sick and elderly. Remember, reading scripture is a great thing, but the force of this particular activity is preparing and being able to present one’s own ideas in an engaging way. (Reading scripture to someone will never be adequate in reaching his soul for heaven. We have to be able to articulate and apply the gospel.) Speaking, rather than reading, is the skill we’re after here.
Along the way, teach your children that large audiences and accolades are not the goal. You can do this effectively by taking opportunities as they come, rather than saying no to hospital room opportunities and yes to national contests. Just say yes every time you can. You can do this by teaching them to always say no to any temptation to speak in any arena that’s sponsored by sinful products or activities. Never allow them to apply endorsement of sin. Teach them that God can make great opportunities for souls out of small venues. Teach your children to give generously to the church each time they are rewarded monetarily for speaking somewhere. Teach them that seeking, serving and saving souls is the ultimate goal. Teach them daily, that whatever they do in life, the vocation will just be a catalyst for helping souls to heaven. It will be a tool for helping those around them to know God and His will for their lives.
Being able to communicate effectively in front of others, sometimes even enemies of the gospel, will help them put on the shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). This takes lots of “mom time”, but it’s is some of the most rewarding time you will spend.