Quick Tips for Preparing a Message for a Youth Group
Lead pastors should always take time away from the upper pulpit and step into the arena of children and youth.
In a church structure that partitions our generations into their own subgroups (like a youth service or a sunday school), it is vital that the pastoral ministries that lead the church take time to speak to these segments. Your relationship with the youth and children within your church will have a huge impact on their developing faith and particularly the longevity of that faith.
But how do you do it?
For so many pastors, the only pulpit they have know for many years if not at all is the “adult” pulpit of the typical Sunday service. That stage, with all the pomp and circumstance, with the formalities and traditions, with the seriousness and importance that we often attribute to it, that stage is a far walk from the typical children’s service or youth class.
If you are feeling the existential dread of having to share a talk at the youth group or prepare a message for the after school hang out this is the article for you.
Here are some quick tips to help you craft a killer sermon for youth:
1. It’s ok to be serious
When delivering a message to a younger audience you will be tempted to shoot low and talk about casual things and be focused on the easier topics. Its ok to dive deeper. You can explore challenging topics and engage in a meaningful discussion of things that really matter to life and to a young person. You don’t have to be funny to gain attention. If you dive head first into a topic that matters you will have their attention.
To be clear, I’m not suggesting being controversial, you are likely not in a relational place to explore the biggest controversies of our day. What I am suggesting is don’t be afraid to talk about difficult things. Be a voice of wisdom and truth and take hold of your authority and challenge your young people. They will respond and have much to say and learn.
2. Tell the truth from your life
You are, by virtue of your age and position, an image of a perfect person. This is not because you are (that ship sailed long ago) but because to a young person you represent a person who has it all together.
Take hold of this idea and smash it.
Let them know you deal with worries, doubt, fear and the rest. This will give them a space to be vulnerable about their own doubts and likely create a foundation from which a relationship can grow between you and the youth of your church.
Note: Be wise in how you smash your image. Talk about your struggles without over talking about your struggles. The youth group is not your therapy session so draw the line somewhere between honest expression and too much information.
3. Don’t “dumb it down”
Young people are adults who are maturing into their independence. That is to say, they are fully capable of thinking, feeling, and working through complex ideas and emotions. You can preach the same ideas you preach on Sunday and talk about the same issues and the same outcomes. Youth are actually hungry for depth and we tend to feed them the same spiritual food from birth to high school.
4. If you are trying to be cool you aren’t going to be cool
You can only be you and youth have enough people trying to be “cool” in their lives. They don’t need a cool version of you, they need you. A young person needs caring adults who are more interested in a youth’s life than how that youth perceives them. Be that adult and in most cases you’ll come across as cool.
These ideas barely scrape the surface of the topic of preparing to preach to a youth group or service. Hopefully, these ideas will give you a solid foundation of how to approach this challenge and give you some guidance to overcome some of the pitfalls you may be tempted to fall in.