As a youth-focused lecturer, I work on making my talks more of a conversation with audience participation. Early this spring I was giving a talk to a Christian Science organization at a college campus on the East Coast, and the natural interaction that flowed from that hour was really special. The students felt totally comfortable stopping me at various points and asking questions.
Prior to the talk, I’d been praying about truly speaking from the heart and letting God unfold the direction of this lecture, while allowing the ideas and conversation to flow naturally, as opposed to just forcing my way down a prepared outline. Each question that came up, and there were lots, took our conversation in a slightly new direction at first, but it was cool to see how naturally we flowed back, each time, to the main thread of the lecture. It was a wonderfully rich experience.
A number of my recent lectures have included both young people and adults, and I’ve been finding that everyone is enjoying the youthful spirit of the talks. A “youth focused” lecture doesn’t mean exclusively for youth. There may be times when a “youth only” lecture is supportive of a particular community’s needs, but often, having a youth focus, while embracing the community as a whole, can be really uniting. Branch churches that may at first have limited contact with young people can, through focused efforts and prayer, have very successful lectures that embrace them.
One branch church in Washington with only a handful of kids in their Sunday School ended up having a lecture full of kids from their community. The church members’ desire to share Christian Science with young people, as well as the Sunday School students’ willingness to invite friends and share what they loved, made the difference. It was really awesome to see a desire to reach out start to overcome that particular challenge.
One of my favorite ways to interact with a group during a lecture is for us to get out of our seats and get moving—to really experience the ideas we’re talking about. I love thinking about how we can see and express more of God’s nature in each of our activities and how in these active moments we are bearing witness to the perpetual activity of Mind.
This summer in Alaska I gave a lecture as part of a three-day camp-out at Denali National Park. This was really a lecture in motion—as we put some of the ideas into practice right on the spot. For example, during the lecture, on a hike, I had one of the college students role- play and personify the suggestion of fatigue. Then as a group we met that suggestion head on and overcame it as a lie about God and His idea. Everything about it was fresh, and I’ve heard from several folks saying how helpful this was in tackling later challenges. This kind of experiential lecturing can really bring the healing ideas of the Comforter to life.
Several churches have invited me to speak with veterans and military families in their communities. Since I spent some time overseas in the Army, it felt natural to join them in providing these lectures. I gave one lecture geared to veterans in a large military community and another to Marine recruits during their basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in Southern California. One veteran talked with me before the lecture about some of his struggles with post traumatic stress disorder. He was on the edge of his seat during the entire lecture and came up immediately afterward, thanking me with much enthusiasm. He said these ideas had changed his life, and he knew he could be free.
I’m always grateful to see such love for our communities and to see how that love finds expression. No lecture is just an hour. It’s the support and prayer of many—before, during, and after—that is bringing divine Science to light in the hearts of our communities.