My great grandparents went to one-room school houses where more than one grade was taught at the same time. Most only went to school through the 8th grade because they were needed on the farm or in factories.
My generation had classrooms for specific grades, but we didn’t learn our letters until kindergarten. Kindergarten was more about learning social skills – areas that are covered in preschool today.
My children had to know their alphabet and how to write their name before entering kindergarten, because kindergarten was used to introduce them to reading and counting to 100.
My point is this: In each example above, while the style used to teach was different, the message was the same. Each teacher’s goal was to help her students learn to read, write their name, and other skills needed to function as an adult.
I was introduced to a great speaker approximately eight years ago. His name is Kent Julian and he used to be a youth pastor. He now goes around the country motivating school personnel and church leaders, among others. I remember him specifically sharing how he had a different version of his speech (same message) depending if he was speaking to a secular audience or a Christian audience.
His theory was this: If he approached both audiences the same, one would possibly shut him down before he could get started while the other would welcome him and his message. However, just as Jesus came to earth to save the lost and the broken, he didn’t want to teach only Christ followers because there are people in both groups who need to hear God’s message.
He said that he used a different approach to get into the door of secular audiences because once he was invited in, “his lifestyle, his actions, and his message would clearly introduce those who were seeking to talk to him further about what made him different,” opening the door so he could share his beliefs.
He didn’t water down his message. He didn’t deny God’s influence in his life. However, he was conscious to change his style, depending upon the audience God allowed him to speak in front of, so that the message could be heard by those who were ready to listen.
What about you? Do you agree or disagree that sometimes the style presenting the same message needs to be altered depending upon the audience you’re speaking to? Do you find it hard to change the style of presenting without changing the message? Why or why not?
© Cheri Swalwell 2019