Tips For Preaching To Youth

Friday, June 5, 2020

There are many resources out there to help you improve your preaching. Books, podcasts, videos, courses, and Youth Min NZ does a communicators course, if you're interested. Rather than cover the same ground as others have covered, I thought I would do some thoughts, ideas and tips that might help you prepare to preach.

Don't prepare in isolation
Young people live in a particular context and we need to understand that as well as we can. We can then connect the Word of God with their context. I know some who even invite people into their preparation process. They ask another communicator to look over it and they may ask a couple of young people to look over it.

Be yourself
There is always a temptation to model yourself off of other effective communicators, but it always feels a little off. Now by all means study great communicators. Find the principles that they use (pace, humour, tone, eye-contact etc) and apply them to your own preaching style. So adopt principles not styles.

Record and review yourself
You will be your own worst critic but it is helpful to review yourself. Your learn if you have mannerisms or habits that are distracting or detracting from the message. Recording and reviewing ourselves is a helpful tool in this. I recently had a conversation with a young leader that was MCing a youth service and encouraged him to record and listen to his inflections. He had a habit of his tone going up at the end of a sentence, which made him sound uncertain and more like it was a question than a statement.

Find your sense of humour
A sense of humour is a great tool in communicating to teens, but do your best to avoid awkward or off jokes. Funny personal stories help young people relax and get to know you a bit more.

Express yourself with passion
It is my observation that to a certain degree, young people equate passion with truth. If you are bored or boring then you are irrelevant or untrue. If you are passionate and engaging then you are worth listening to and considering. As much as a long-term faith should not be based on emotions, I do believe that emotions are a gateway that God can use into the heart and soul of young people. So express your passion for Jesus.

Trust God with the results
It is not uncommon for preachers who thought they did well to receive very few comments or compliments. And when they think they bombed, they get people giving feedback about life-change and timing. All we can do is pray, prepare and deliver with the skill and anointing we have, and trust God with the outcomes. I also lean into Acts 2:6, on the day of Pentecost. There was baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues, but the NIV says that the people heard them in their own language. It wasn't so much what was coming out of the mouths, but what they were hearing. So if God wants to get a message through to someone, then he will. I remember a number of times when someone approached me after I preached and they talk about a point that I didn't remember making. Now my preaching can have ADHD moments where I go way off script, but I didn't remember making the point they said I made. Did the Holy Spirit interpret my words into something they needed to hear? I don't know, but God is capable of it.

Stay sensitive to God
I consider myself a pragmatic pentecostal. I know some who lean more pentecostal and would say "just rely on the Holy Spirit". And I know others who are preparing weeks ahead. I like to try and fall along the spectrum. My philosophy is to pray and prepare before hand, then listen to the God's leading on the day. I don't remember a day when I scrapped a whole message, but there were definite shifts in the focus that came on the day. There is something about the corporate presence of God that can bring a revelation or perspective. Also, inspiration can come in many forms and environments. So while preparing and in the moment, stay sensitive to God's leading.


Those are some thoughts I had about preaching. What random tips would you add?

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