The difficulty of public speaking–message preparation, Part 1

Writing good message is hard work.

As I wrote in my book (with Duffy Robbins), Speaking To Teenagers, I believe that the craft of writing impactful messages is a very difficult task. There’s so many moving parts: the right word choices, the content, and the illustrations all work together to create something that people want to listen to and will move them toward life-change.

All good communicators want life-change!

But, it’s so difficult… especially to do it well week after week.

While I’m working on a message I’m always thinking about how to allow my content to “breath” a little so my audience stays with me. I try to give my audience enough space to listen so they feel like they’re in a conversation rather than a lecture. I’m constantly thinking illustrate, show rather than tell, relieve the tension, surprise them, drop a laugh-line, grab their attention, etc…

Because I take this craft very serious, I have gathered some friends along the way whom I will occasionally “run things by” so they’ll read my message (or a portion of my message) and give me feedback.

One of these guys is Brian Bird. Brian was one of my youth ministry volunteers for many years and the dad of several kids who went through our youth group. In addition to being an amazing man, he’s got a cool job. He’s a writer. He writes TV shows, movies, etc… He was the executive producer for Touched By An Angel and wrote on sitcoms for many years prior to that. He’s the real deal, and he’s on my informal “communication team.” [His blog is here and Twitter is @brbird.]

Last weekend I was preparing to teach at Mariners Church and I sent out a “help” email to a few buddies to get some help with word-choice. Every time this happens I get a new education of communication.

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll show you the string of emails that took place between Brian and I and all that I learned. I think it will be helpful for those who communicate on a regular basis and have a desire to improve.

Part 2: coming tomorrow.

Question: Do you have a communication team? If so, how do they help you? Share here.

[Are you getting Doug’s daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

Looking for a job in Youth Ministry? He’s hiring!

My long-term, dear friend Matt McGill is looking to hire youth ministry leaders. I’m biased enough to post this for several reasons:
……….1) Matt is one of my best friends and I’d do anything for him.
……….2) Mariners‘ is a great church in southern California.
……….3) Matt is a strong leader who will develop others.

Here’s what Matt wrote:

“I’ve accepted an exciting responsibility from my senior pastor—probably the biggest project I’ve ever worked on!

My calling is to identify, challenge, and help develop the next generation of great leaders: people who will plant churches, become pastors at our regional campuses, or lead large ministries within Mariners Church.

The person that I’m looking to hire will need to fill the following general position: reach out to lost high school (or junior high) students, help them develop their faith, and identify students who will serve as leaders. Would this type of ministry excite you? Might you be the kind of leader we need?

For you, does influence come naturally? When you walk into a room, no one wonders if you are a leader. You’re not insecure, you don’t have to be the center of attention. Instead, your confidence and convictions move you to motivate others.

Do you have a message that you’re bursting to share? You have the ability and the need to teach others. To quench this expression of your gifts would be to deny who God has called you to be.

You are looking for opportunities to leverage. Failure isn’t an option, it’s inevitable because you’re constantly trying new things. This is a secret to your success.

For most people, rules are a wonderful necessity. But for you, rules are mere suggestions and the only way to discover a good rule is to break it. If you’re not given latitude, you’ll take it.

You’ll have plenty of time to hesitate and second-guess when you’re in a nursing home. Until then, life is all about TAKING ACTION. PROVOKING assumptions. INTERRUPTING the ruts. It’s all about making a massive impact for the Kingdom of God.

You aren’t just a self-starter, you have the ability to motivate others to become self-starters. You’re able to set things in motion for the kingdom.


Everyone can lead, because everyone can serve. This is, of course, is what Jesus taught. However, this position isn’t for everyone. I’m looking for leaders who lead leaders. This isn’t just BUZZspeak.

Our church is committed to developing leaders for the next generation and I’m looking for the right people.


The next step is to fill out an application at

There you go! If you watch our podcast, you know that Matt has STRONG convictions. If you’re interested… go for it. If not, I’d understand that too. But, I’m a lot nicer than Matt (he’d think you were just “mentally weak”…which is a favorite McGillspeak.)

Question: What do you like, not like about Matt’s letter? Share your thoughts here.

[Are you getting Doug’s daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.

Video: Funny, Brilliant, Creative, Human

I love a good youth ministry video! This is a good one!

1. Find someone who can’t sing.
2. Play loud music in his/her ear so they can’t hear themselves sing.
3. Have him/her sing for the camera.
4. Discover components of a good humor video.

Watch for yourself (give it at least 30 seconds):

[If this video doesn’t come into your RSS feed, click here]


[Compliments of Mariners Church high school ministry/video guru Luke St. Hilare]


Question: What’s a video that you think is funny? Share the URL here.

[Are you getting this daily blog in your email inbox?] If not, it’s real easy–go here.