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How to Be a Good Emcee in Church Services: Tips for Youth

how to be a good emcee in church

It’s super-important to find the right people to host youth services and events. The right personalities and presence on stage are essential. And a young person definitely can learn how to be a good emcee in church and other settings.

I believe an analogy from sports broadcasting works well. Each booth usually features two hosts for very good reasons:

The “Play-by-Play” Person

This is the driver of the on-stage conversation. They are the personality, the king of first impressions, and set the tone for the program. If they’re warm, genuine, and funny, that  eases the first moments of tension between the audience and stage. This person talks the majority of the time. Using two of these people on stage at the same time is like having two drivers in one car. But not having this person at all creates an awkward chemistry of two people who don’t know how to drive the vehicle. Keep that in mind when you’re considering how to be a good emcee in church.

The Color Commentator

This person isn’t driving but is still fully engaged and along for the ride. The Color Commentator is responsible for tracking the length of the time on stage. He or she also ensures that the content is focused and hitting home. If the Play-by-Play person gets too far off track, the Color Commentator steers them back on course.

Using two of these emcee-types on stage creates some wandering stage moments that never really take the audience anywhere. Plus, it lacks the warmth and energy of the play-by-play. But if you don’t have this person at all, you lose some depth and content that the emcee should provide.

When kids ask you how to be a good emcee in church, remind them that stage presence isn’t natural. Some people are very good at it, so you might think it’s natural. But it takes enormous work and countless hours of practice. Don’t be fooled into thinking you either have it or you don’t. Sure, some people’s gifting makes it easier than others, but it is work for everyone.

After a recent youth service, we discussed how to be a good emcee in church. We came up with these principles of good stage presence:

How to Be a Good Emcee in Church: 4 Tips to Remember

1. Speak Up!

Hold the microphone up to your mouth. People unaccustomed to the stage tend to hold it too far away. Rest the mic on your chin, if you have to. If your hands full, that stuff will tempt you to move the microphone around too much. Either memorize what’s on the cue card or put cards on a music stand in front of you.

2. Make Sure Others Can Be Heard, Too

When you ask someone on stage a question, remember to hold the microphone up to their mouth, too. Typically by this point in the service, even a rookie emcee has figured out they need to hold the mic up to their own mouth. But too often they forget to help the crowd hear the other person on stage, too.

3. Know What You’re There to Do

Someone has trusted you with the entire stage. And remember that everything is the message, not just the sermon. You now control the room! You’re there to build energy in and excitement toward the next element. It’s up to you to bring the crowd down to what’s next, or else you’re introducing something. Either way, you’re not the star of the show. You are driving the vehicle, and the passengers are what people want to see. Know what you’re there to do, and get off the stage!

4. Know Your Entrance and Exit

If you have an opening line/bit/joke, that really helps get you started on the right foot. Equally important: A great run onstage ends with a fizzle if you’re not sure how to end it all. If you’re throwing to video, sell it. If you’re introducing a person, make the transition obvious. However you come in or leave the stage, make sure you have a plan.

by Josh Griffin
Author, 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers
Joshua Griffin is the High School Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, and the author of 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers. He has served in youth ministry for 15 years. Visit Josh at MoreThanDodgeball.com.
This article was adapted from a blog posting by Josh Griffin at MoreThanDodgeball.com.