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I heard it said several months ago that you should never get up to preach a message if you don’t have a burden for what you are going to preach on to be heard. I believe this to be a major problem in Youth Ministry.
To be completely honest, this statement has kind of rocked me, specifically, every time I sit down to write a Youth Group message or small group lesson.
As Youth Pastors around the country lay out the messages we will deliver this coming school year, my prayer is that it will rock you as well.
I’m as big of a believer in the entry-level service as any, I’m passionate about having entry points into our ministries that enable students who have never set foot in church to hear a message that is relevant to their life and they can understand. I’m constantly asking myself during Youth Group Services or “Big Church” services here and elsewhere “How would a non-christian view what we just did.”
For years, I confess that I was probably too Bible Light when it came to not just my message content, but also my message preparation.
As I’ve written before, we as Youth Pastors have an AWEsome calling to not simply preach a message but teach the word of God to the students we have been called and entrusted to Pastor, and my fear is that too often we get up to deliver a message that doesn’t do this calling we have or the one who gave it Justice.
My prayer and hope is that this year, we get messy in the word and see lives changed because of our sermons. I believe there are a few things we must do in order to do this:
Preach with a burden. This may mean you have to start writing your own sermons as opposed to buying them off of a site. You can’t buy burden, and using someone else’s burden isn’t good enough.
It may also mean we do away with a few of the common themes we try and touch on each year in Youth Ministry. Some things make great sermon series and need to be preached on, but if you don’t have a burden for your students to understand it, they wont learn what you want them to learn anyways.
Do some Research. Know your Audience. There are countless Youth Ministry and non Youth Ministry websites out there that give statistical data on Teens. I’ve done some research talking to teens in our area and have gotten a burden for preaching about what it means to live a Christian Life, with a Christian world view. Your students may give you a different burden. Another way to find a burden? Reading statistics about Teens and Video game use/suicide rates/pregnancies, etc. etc.
Do some Reading.Lastly, but most importantly, read the word. I don’t like reading posts that say “Want to be a better Youth Pastor? Read the Bible” because its such an obvious thing. But the fact of the matter is that nothing gives you a Burden for reaching students with the truth of the Gospel like reading the Gospel.
I love the line in “Hosanna” by Hillsong “Break my heart for what breaks yours.” The only way for that to come true is to draw closer to God through reading his word and constant prayer.