The one thing I have always respected in my tenure as a youth pastor is the youth worker or speaker who takes the necessary time and preparation before getting up to speak to teens.
Some don’t see it as an importance and will get up and wing it every time. I find this a bit offensive being that I believe students deserve our best foot forward every time we step into that pulpit.
Yet, not only is preparation is a good thing, it is very productive. The sharper you can shape your sermon, the clearer it will be for your students. The clearer your message is; the more likely they will receive it in their hearts. The more likely they receive it in their heart, the more likely they will respond in the end. In other words, it pays to invest time into shaping your message before preaching it to students.
With that said, here are five productive questions to consider before speaking to teens.
1. What Are Their Specific Needs?
Anytime you walk into a room full of teenagers, it is safe to say that there is a lot of hurt in the room. What they go through on a daily basis can be hard for anyone to deal with. It is important for us as youth workers to identify what those hurts and pains are to be able to include them in our sermon.
Many times the hurts could be an unfortunate tragedy in your community that your students are connected to. Recently a young girl in one of the high schools represented in our youth group was hit by a drunk driver while heading home from another church. Being only 16 years old, this shocked the students in our community since many of them were good friends with her. When I chose to pause and speak on this subject, our students were engaged as I addressed the reality that had been burdened on their hearts.
2. Have I Prayed For Them?
Praying for our students is single-handedly the most important thing we can do before actually preaching.
It takes our sermon from just a normal message to a message filled with love, passion, and zeal for the students in front of you. We can preach as hard as we want, but unless we pray we are missing out on a grace that covers our students and connects us to their hearts.
As we preach, we are taking the heart of God and the word of God and fusing it with the hearts of our students. This is a very big deal and should be considered as one!
Nevertheless, the weaknesses in our abilities as speakers are made up in the prayer closet as we posture ourselves before God on behalf of our students. God will not only build a bridge from your heart to your teens, but He will also cover the imperfections in your message with a grace to receive it.
What a deal!
3. How Will My Content Connect and Matter?
This is a question that can take a “good” message to a “great” one. Content is very important, and we want to spend a good amount of time on sharpening it in the word of God. Nevertheless, the question is whether or not your students will even connect to what you want to say and if it matters to them.
In other words, can you see little Johnny applying this to his own life? We want our messages to make our students feel like we have been eavesdropping on their conversations and believe that the message was specifically intended for them. This takes us pulling back and questioning whether our content matters to our students.
4. Do I Have Good Illustrations?
The speaker who does not use illustrations is seriously putting themselves in danger of either striking major boredom or even worse, not allowing the content to connect properly to their students. As speakers, we have this responsibility to leave students with truth that they can fully grasp and understand.
Illustrations help bridge the gap from your point to the audience, and teenagers need all the illustrative aid they can get to keep them focused! So ask yourself, is there a personal story I have experienced that will better illustrate this point? Or, is there a picture I could use to tell my story better? Or even, what are some props I could use that can help connect them to the passage I am conveying? These are only some of the avenues to consider when searching for an effective illustration.
5. Have I Identified One Main Idea?
The one question that I used to always struggle with when I was at home with my wife getting ready for church on Wednesday nights was when she asked me, “What are you preaching about?” I would start off saying one thing and end up trying to add different things throughout it. Eventually, I felt like I was taking a trip throughout my whole message, and my wife would look at me with a face that said she was a bit confused.
This is when I realized that I needed to change something.
At the end of the day, you want to be able to boil your message down to a single sentence so that it may be repeated to anyone at any time.
My pastor does this the best I have ever seen. He shrinks it into a single statement that can be used in any situation. We will be talking, and he will make a profound statement that has me looking for a pen and pad.
Then I realize that I have heard that before in one of his messages! It was simply taken and boiled down to a simple statement. Asking this question will help bring your message to a single point. In doing so, you will send your students home with the main idea on their hearts and minds.
This is effective preaching!
Question: What are some checklist questions you ask yourself before speaking to teens?