24 October 2007 ~ 1 Comment

This American Life- How to talk to kids. Act One

So I stumbled onto some youth ministry gold this week. I have a couple of podcasts set to download into my itunes. I listen to The Ticket’s podcast out of Dallas, my church’s podcast of sermons (I miss more sermons than you think due to youth ministry stuff), the sermons from Mars Hill, and the NPR radio show This American Life.

I often fall behind on the This American Life episodes, but since I’ve had a lot of computer work this week I’ve managed to catch up. Tonight I listened to an episode called “How to Talk to Kids.” There are three acts; act one profiles to comedians who are hired by a camp to entertain the kids, act two is all abut talking to kids about sex, and act three is about disciplining/yelling at kids. Since there’s so much great stuff in this episode, I’m going to do a post on each act.

Act One

The comedians in act one were expected to “tell children’s jokes to children who already knew adult jokes, and found them funny.” The favorite comedian of the kids at the camp was Dane Cook. These comedians, who were told to keep it clean (a deviation from their norm) struggled mightily. They were obviously out of their element.

In addition, there’s a great introduction piece where kids complain about adults who talk down to them, ask them the same questions, or tease them. I must confess that I’m guilty of all of the above. I’ve failed miserably in front of audiences of kids, I’ve asked the same questions to kids over and over again (yes, the dreaded school question), and I’ve talked down and teased kids.

Now I really try not to tease kids. Sometimes I ask kids questions without realizing I’m teasing them. I’m surprised at how sensitive kids are to teasing. This recording reminded me of this about the teasing, and I’m going to add it to my agenda for the next leaders meeting.

When talking to kids, particularly a group of 4-5 kids sitting in a group I try to focus on one at a time, asking them a specific question about their family, sports, favorite tv shows (the ultimate safe question), or video games. I’m too culturally idiotic to talk about music. In addition, I try not to top their stories on a regular basis- even if the story qualifies as a great moment in Andy history.

What do you find to be true when speaking to kids, either as an audience or in a more relational setting?

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