Every Thursday evening at 9 p.m, Point Loma Nazarene University students and faculty gather in Brown Chapel to hear a fellow student share about their faith on stage. So, how do speakers prepare?
Nate Shoup, associated student body director of student relations, who spoke in Time-Out on Jan. 26, said that Esteban Trujillo, the university chaplain, reached out to him over winter break asking if he would be interested in speaking in Time-Out.
“I was kind of overwhelmed with excitement and I was so quick to say yes, but [Esteban] was like ‘Don’t forget, take some time and you can think about it too.God honors the quick yes but he also honors praying about it.’ But, I think the moment that he asked me over the phone, I was just so excited,” Shoup said.
Smith Briggs, a fourth-year finance major who spoke on Jan. 13, said he was originally unsure of whether he should accept the role, believing he was “almost undeserving.” He finally decided to accept after praying and recalling a conversation he had with his freshman-year mentor, who also spoke in Time-Out. His mentor told him that when he is a senior he could speak at chapel, but Briggs disagreed.
“By the time it came around I felt ready for it… how is there going to be growth in me if I don’t challenge myself to things that stretch me outside of my comfort zone a little bit?”
According to Shoup and Briggs, the preparation process includes working for a week or two on their manuscript, and speaking with Esteban, as well as Judith Hernandez, the ASB director of spiritual life, making their speech cohesive and applicable to diverse groups across campus. They also help speakers discover what God wants to communicate to Point Loma through their testimony.
Shoup said, “[Judith] gave me some really good, practical advice on how to reach the students in the chapel setting: ‘Be more personal, tell me who Nate Shoup is. This is actually about you, so testify to how God has worked in your life and don’t be afraid to use personal examples.’”
Shoup said that he was able to discern through continued prayer that God was pressing him to talk about his awareness of his personal mental and emotional well-being.
“If it wasn’t for me even being conscious or knowing what’s going on within me I wouldn’t be sensitive to the voice of the spirit,” Shoup said.
Aside from internal reflection, Briggse asked his friends and family to help him solidify what he would talk about.
“I talked with my parents and my immediate family because it’s a lot easier for someone [to say] ‘Oh, I think you’re good at this,’ or ‘this was a challenging time where I noticed this in your life.’ Hearing that from other people is easier than sorting it out myself,” Briggs said.
Additionally, Trujillo advised Briggs to go into Brown Chapel a few nights before his speech and practice out loud on stage.
“So I think three or four nights in a row before I spoke I was just in Brown, saying it over and over again on the stage, so it wasn’t the first time I was up there on Thursday,” Briggs said.
Even though speakers take to the stage to share their own testimony with the audience, speakers themselves can learn something from the process as well. Both Shoup and Briggs said that they harnessed practical skills like public speaking, but also learned that “you are capable of a lot more than you think you are.”
Shoup said that he realized how encouraging it is to have God use the things that he has done in his life to show His goodness to others.
“I’m beginning to realize how blessed I am to be able to go up there and testify how God has worked and how he is so good in my life and how he is continuing to work; I’m not finished, I’m a work in progress just like all of us,” Shoup said.
According to Shoup, one of the beautiful things about Time-Out is that everyone brings their own story, so the preparation looks different for everyone. However, he advises that preparing speakers should be “fervent and constant in prayer” when brainstorming what to speak on, so that they are able to discern what God wants to communicate.
Shoup also recommends consulting scripture, “to be able to root your experiences in biblical truths.” While Briggs emphasized leaning on a community of those who offer love and support and those in the chapel community whose job it is to help students prepare.
“You can do it, you know, you won’t die and it’s a really cool experience,” Briggs said.
As the former ASB director of spiritual life, Silva said that his role in helping people write and organize their manuscripts is important. Every week his role involved mentoring the Time-Out speaker. Sometimes he worked with them for hours at a time, not just to “check the person is not saying anything crazy,” to use Silva’s words, but to guide them and calm any nerves or anxiety they may feel.
Silva said that some advice he would often give speakers is that the full weight of the evening, the pressure, is not on them.
“It’s God speaking through you. Yes, there is preparation, but what is actually going to touch people’s hearts is the Holy Spirit,” Silva said.
Written By: Maddy Tucker