To the student whose season just ended, I’m so sorry. When I saw the email announcements a few days ago, my heart broke for my younger siblings, the students I have coached, and the hundreds of families who build their spring semester around tournaments. As you grieve this difficult but necessary announcement and perhaps work through anxiety about many other uncertainties, I would like to encourage you with a few truths…
Last week both Stoa and NCFCA announced they are canceling their speech and debate seasons. I ache for all of the competitors who abruptly saw their season come to an end, especially the seniors. We know that these decisions were not taken lightly, and much prayer was put into this. The bottom line is there are no guarantees. We have always known this, but we don’t tend to believe it unless it’s staring us in the face. I know for some students, they feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them. However, you are not yet finished…
Below is one of our devotionals from the Lasting Impact! Devotional Book…
Everything you say and do has an unpredictable impact! Speech and Debate is no different!
All too often I see students who are practicing and honing their public speaking skills for the competition, winning trophies, or recognition. I know it can be easy to lose focus on why the art of communication matters.
BUT WOULD YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR COMMUNICATION COULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON GENERATIONS TO COME?
As we walk in this life, uncertainty abounds. Each direction we look is full of hope and fear, often side by side. It is at times like this that I remind myself of the God we serve. We are not subject to the fears of our fellow men and women. We have a God who is close and who cares; Who’s mercies endure forever!
So as we experience the cancelations of tournaments for which we have excitedly prepared, as we ponder the work and the pieces of ourselves that we have put into our speeches in hopes of bringing joy, laughter, ideas, and deep thoughts to others, let us not consider this work to have been in vain.
First, we have gained individually from the effort we have put into these speeches. We have worked with others and have grown as a result of the research, the learning, the sharing with others, etc. We have built relationships which, in the end, are to be more cherished than the speeches themselves.
Second, we do not know what the future holds. We may very well be able to complete in Regionals or Nationals this year. For many this speech season is not over. I still think this is an opportunity to try an online tournament! And so, do not let your guard down. Do not give up the fight just yet.
Third, we can be an encouragement and a witness to those around us. With each fear, the opportunity to demonstrate the Love of Christ abounds! For the perfect Love of Christs cast out fear. We don’t walk by sight, we walk by the Spirit. We keep our mind stayed upon Him, from which we know peace. Let us share that peace with those around us, whether believers or not. Our lights can be seen the best when the darkness deepens around us.
Fourth, we are community! We do not have to be face to face to be in each other’s presence! Lasting Impact! has always been about connecting! We will continue to connect! We are thinking of ways to embrace change… include more people, learn, and grow!
So whether your season has come to an early end, or whether you have competition remaining this year, be of good cheer, it has not been a waste, growth has happened already, we did what we did for the Lord – not for ourselves – and so we cannot loose. Pray for those around you. Pray for their faith, their peace, their healing, and that they come to know the Loving Father that we serve. But also pray for this country and her leaders. Pray that we repent for the way we run from God. Pray your own repentance to God.
And remember – we can always start preparing for next season … for this is not the end – there will be a next season! You Got This!
When I was in high school, there was one activity I craved to do more than any other. Compete in speech and debate. It gave me an indescribable feeling that burst inside of me when 300 speech competitors clapped when my name was called. The feeling was a combination of humility, pride, and relief. The clap of 300 competitors was a signal that meant the gutwrenching, nerve-racking speeches I gave five times a day paid off and would walk across the stage to receive a reward or better, advance my speech to the national championship.
They say a huge fear in the human population is not dying, it’s public speaking. Yet it is one of the most necessary and valuable skills in life today. Public communication is used in practically every facet of life in almost every profession. Whether you need to communicate with customers, bosses, or employees, the skills of public speaking are used. The desire to speak competitively in front of judges is not a normal feeling to crave, but I and hundreds… thousands of other competitors did because we knew it would benefit us long after the feeling of winning a competition fleeted away.
During my sophomore year, I was asked as apart of the advanced debate class to spend a round helping a novice team through their first round. Before the debate, I sent them this worksheet I had made, emphasizing that these four main sections were essential for each and every speech they give. Here is what it looked like:
I am actually privy to this sentiment fairly often. Parents mostly know what they like best when they watch interps. They might even know why they liked it best over some other interp. But they want to know how to say that articulately to the students on the ballot. The point of this post is NOT to tell you what should rank higher than something else but to help you identify the bits and pieces that are part of any interp…bits and pieces that you can talk about from your own perspective on your ballots, giving students bits and pieces they can actually work on after the tournament. I was recently in a club meeting where the leader asked the students to share the most helpful comment they had received on a ballot. The students struggled to find one. I want students to have LOTS of helpful, useable things. Things they can take to club and say, “can someone show me how to ___________?” Or “can someone help me change ___________?” I want things filling in those blanks for our kids!
So here goes….How DO you look at an interp speech?
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That’s the plain and simple truth. Tournaments aren’t for your parents. Tournaments aren’t for your siblings. They’re for you. Parents may enjoy socializing, yes. But how many parents do you know who still come to tournaments once their children are graduated? Hardly any. Once you’re not in the league, Speech and Debate doesn’t mean much to your parents. Why? Because tournaments are for you.
I’ve been at this a LONG time – teaching students how to manage the interpretive speech. It is definitely a purist endeavor that relies on the student alone to create the entire context suggested by a reduced segment of a piece of literature. There is nothing easy about it. When it’s done well, it really works. As students strive to reach that mark, I find that they make the same basic mistakes along the way, and these fall into two basic categories: technical mistakes and ownership mistakes. Let me explain….
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This Sunday evening – Feb. 23, 2020, is Lasting Impact!’s mid-season apologetics workshop. It is focused on providing resources to competitors in the middle of the season (or an early jump start for next year) to equip and motivate them. We know it is a busy time and you may see a workshop as another burdensome item to add to the checklist that never seems to end. You may have also noticed, however, that this workshop is unique in that its focus is to wash attendees in Scripture. The entire two hours will be an intentional journey through what Scripture has to say about apologetics topics.
Why focus on Scripture in general? Growing in your knowledge of Scripture helps to draw you closer to Christ and focus your motivations for participating in apologetics and public speaking. Knowing more of God’s Word directly prepares you to fight temptations in your personal life, take comfort in difficult seasons, and share your faith in conversation with others as the Holy Spirit works to bring those references to mind. Scripture is the most powerful and appropriate outside resource to include when you share what you believe with others. My hope is that this workshop’s focus will benefit you by helping you to re-center your heart and emotions. My prayer is that you will be more excited to study God’s word outside of apologetics prep and get a glimpse of the treasures that wait for you.
Why focus on Scripture once the season has already begun? In case you’re still hesitant, I want to remind you that the amount of time you have to write and edit new cards will only continue to decrease as the season picks up and the other demands on your time increase. Having large quantities of Scripture passages at your fingertips allows you to not only quickly bulk up all your cards, but also directs and organizes your other content and can reduce any prep time panic.
How exactly will this workshop provide Scripture resources? You’ll be guided through carefully prepared slides that provide Scripture passages and how they could be used not only in specific topics but also with specific points that you could then elaborate on in the moment. Let’s look at an example! There are several topics that ask you to articulate the attributes of God. Each attribute provides the opportunity for you to share passages of Scripture that shed light on who God is. While we’ll be touching every apologetics topic at least by brushing past similar topics, this workshop will make sure you are prepared to fill your speeches with specific resources. For example, when explaining the meaning and significance of God’s omnipotence, the words of Scripture can shape your organization and content for each point.
Job 42:1-2 shows us the attitude we should take towards God’s omnipotence, which is one of both confidence and humility. “Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”
Isaiah 14:27 chimes in “For the Lord of hosts has purposed, and who will annul it? His hand is stretched out, and who will turn it back?”
Daniel 4:35 draws a comparison between our power as humans and our inability to question the work of God. “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?”
Ephesians 1:18-19 provides specific encouragement to believers for the eternal hope the all-powerful God has promised in salvation “having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might.”
Here’s a final example (we could have looked at many more) of a verse that helps articulate the magnitude of God’s omnipotence. Colossians 1:17 sums up the breadth and impact of God’s power. “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
This is the process we’ll be walking through on Sunday, and I really hope you’ll join me! Sign up here for Sunday night’s apologetics resource workshop. Click HERE to sign up.