Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Best Youth Ministry in America: Homeschool Speech & Debate Clubs

A subtle, spiritual revival has been stirring in the United States for over two decades now. It is the Christian Homeschool Movement. More and more parents are catching the vision for biblical discipleship, for evangelism, and for servant leadership. And from within this movement has arisen, in my opinion, the best youth ministry in America today: speech and debate clubs. That’s right, I said speech and debate clubs.

Speech and debate clubs are popping up around the country like dandelions in a summer lawn. These clubs are an expression of a percolating passion for biblical apologetics, for persuasive speech and for skillful argumentation. They provide a potent blend of academic rigor, engaging peer relationships, and high-amp, adrenaline experiences that come from public speaking. They are Christ-centered, Bible-enriched, skills-oriented, age-blended, and parent-supervised. They are family-integrated and multi-generational. I just had to throw in a couple more hyphenated combos. Homeschool speech and debate clubs are superior to the average Christian youth ministry model in almost every way. Perhaps I’m a bit biased.

My family has been in involved in speech and debate for six years now. Each of my five children has been a competitor in the NCFCA League (National Christian Forensics and Communications Association) and loved it. They have benefited from the research, writing, revising and rehearsing that goes into preparing and delivering a speech. They have also benefited from getting to know other Christian homeschool families from around the country who attend the tournaments.

We started our own club, Clarion Forensics, back in 2005 with just four families. By 2007 we had grown to over twenty families. That’s when we began hosting our own tournaments. Then, in 2009 we divided into two separate clubs, and began meeting in different towns. And next year a third club will begin meeting in yet another town nearby.

When I hear young Christians speak articulately on issues of interest and importance, my worldview opinions turn a shade brighter. My optimism in the future of my country is restored. From such as these will arise the husbands and wives, the fathers and mothers, the businessmen, churchmen and statesmen to lead our communities and our nation in the next generation.

If you’re not quite ready to join a speech club right now, then hear me out for another few hundred words of pointed persuasion. Below I offer six essential reasons, along with some scriptural encouragement, for why your family should get involved in a speech and debate club.

1. For Christ – You will purposefully join with others to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:16-17).

2. For Communication - You will be coached to speak articulately and effectively.

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

3. For Companionship – You will develop close friendships with other individuals and families of like mind.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil” (Ecclesiastes 4:9)

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).

4. For Competition – You will work hard to sharpen your communication skills through engaging contest.

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

“The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” Proverbs 18:17).

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

5. For Character Development You will learn to be an example to others, growing in humility and gaining the ability to give and receive instruction.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

6. For the Great Commission – You will serve as a disciple-making ambassador for Christ.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13).

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20).

In conclusion, start homeschooling your children and get them involved with the nearest speech and debate club. Link up with other disciple-making, world-changing ambassadors for Christ. Be an active participant in America's best, family-integrated youth ministry. You'll be blessed to watch your children learn to speak the truth with skill and grace. You'll make memories that will last a lifetime.