6 things I’ve learned from MCing KYCK

Lots of teenagers, flashing lights and loud music in a tin shed is usually cause to run for the hills. Unless of course, you’re in Katoomba this April in which case you’re probably up at KYCK. For those who don’t know, KYCK is a Christian conference for thousands of teenagers that runs every year over three weekends.


Image courtesy of Flickr

This Friday will mark the third year in a row that I’ve had the incredible privilege of MCing the conference. Every year hundreds of kids become Christians and thousands have their lives radically changed. It really is an incredible ministry to be a part of.

This year will also be my last year as MC. Since we’ll be in the middle of planting a church next year, Steve Wakeford and the team have asked me to train up a replacement to take over. So this year I get to do one of my favourite things in the world- pour into a younger guy and trust that God will help him to do a better job than I have done.

In thinking about some of the things I should tell him, I found myself reflecting on what I’ve learned from my own experience. When I first started I literally had no idea. But over the last two years, I genuinely feel like I’ve learned a few valuable lessons. So for the sake of sharing with those who are interested, here’s six lessons I’ll be passing on to my replacement:

1. It’s not about you- now this one doesn’t come naturally to me (who’d have thought), but it’s crucial to get it right. Your job as an MC is to get in and get out. Crack a joke here and there if the timing is right, but don’t go overboard. MCing a conference is not about getting your 5 minutes of fame, it’s an opportunity to serve the audience. In my opinion, you’ve done a good job if people forget who you are after the conference. If they don’t, it’s probably because you made a mistake or tried to steal the show.

2. Set the tone- Friday night at KYCK is a crazy night. You’ve got nearly 2000 teenagers hopped up on candy ready to explode. They’ve been at school all day, jumped on a bus for three hours and now it’s time. You gotta start the conference strong! To be honest, the whole “Who’s happy to be here?” thing kinda kills me, but you gotta give them a chance to scream! Now compare Friday night to Saturday night. It’s the middle of the conference and the preacher is about to give kids an opportunity to trust in Christ for the first time. Saturday night requires a different vibe and it’s your job to help set it.

3. Change gears smoothly- some people will disagree with me on this one and that’s fine. But if I’ve just sung 10,000 Reasons I don’t want the very next thing I hear to be, “Turn in your Bibles to…”. If people have just been praising God and encouraging each other in song, give them a moment to be still and sit with it. I often find praying a helpful way to transition people out of a song and into the next segment. Pick up a line you’ve just sung and pray into into their hearts. And don’t say, “Let’s pray”. Everyone know’s what you’re doing. Just do it!

4. Act like a tour guide- if you’re on a safari, the job of your tour guide is to tell you what to look at and what to ignore. And for the important stuff, they’ll often give you some helpful information so you actually understand what you’re seeing. As the MC you’re a bit like a tour guide for the conference. Some kids will get distracted by the flashing lights or the cool band. That’s not their fault, their just kids. But it’s your job to help them see what really matters. They’re singing to God and one another. Others will be bored by the idea of a sermon. They need to know that when God’s word is read and preached the creator of the universe is speaking!

5. Be flexible- KYCK is as a pretty slick operation, but let’s be honest- sometimes things can get a little bit hectic backstage. As the MC it’s your job to work with the program director to make sure you know exactly what’s happening and what’s up next. If it’s what’s on the printed program, great. If it’s not, then just run with it and don’t get too stressed out. You’ll also probably get a few announcements shoved in your hand as your walking up to get on stage. Deal with it. It’s all part of the fun!

6. Have a blast– When I first walked on stage two years ago I was freaked out. The whole concept of engaging 2000 teenagers was just nuts. But then I realised I couldn’t see most of them anyway (stage lights will do that to you) so I loosened up. You have an amazing opportunity to make sure the weekend runs smoothly and to lead the conference on a journey to know God. That’s something worth getting excited about! It’s also something you shouldn’t take for granted. So make the most of it! Before too long you’ll be handing things over to the next guy.

While these 6 reflections come from my involvement at KYCK, they should be useful for a whole range of other activities too. Maybe you’re leading a service at church, MCing a wedding, doing a speech of some sort, or just interested in what your service leaders are trying to do. Hopefully together with your own wisdom, these 6 points will help you to do a better job than I have done.

Question: what makes a good (or bad) MC? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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7 thoughts on “6 things I’ve learned from MCing KYCK

  1. Great thoughts Tim! I went through this process recently when MCing a wedding and reminding myself – “it’s not about me!” It’s a very human temptation, and one I need to keep striving by God’s grace to avoid.

    MCing – like all of the Christian life – is about serving others.

    Thanks for writing this.

    • Great point Steve. J.I. Packer describes the Holy Spirit as having a “flood light” ministry. I.e. His job is to put the spotlight on Jesus and make people look at Him. I don’t think an MC is like the Holy Spirit or that it’s the MC’s job to put the spot light on the speakers or the couple getting married… but I think the idea of shinning the light away from ourselves could be a helpful parallel.

  2. great post!
    looking forward to hanging again this year at KYCK.

    big fan of smooth gear changes! (#3)

    and oh the wedding MC! i reckon they regularly go too far and crack too many “jokes”… hopefully they’ll stumble here.

  3. Excellent post, I have really enjoyed your MCing at KYCK 🙂 You’ve done at excellent job and this was an enjoyable read 🙂