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2,000 years ago in the first century church, I don’t think the speakers/preachers had the same obstacles that we as speakers face today in Youth Ministry. Not to say they didn’t have their challenges, like death, or being flogged for preaching Christ. But at least they didn’t have to deal with Jr highers texting in the middle of the sermon, or worry about what YouTube clip they were gonna use to grab the students attention, or the fact that every other student, and even adult leader, suffers from attention deficit disorder… okay so they definitely had greater obstacles then us.
Though a few days ago as I was working on an upcoming message, I began to think about how Paul worked through his message prep… did he even have message prep, did he have an outline, was there smooth transitions…?
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”
In confession, it’s so tempting to get lost in the preparation of the message, to spend hours on it, working on my analogies and transitions, worrying about how I’ll keep the students attention, what YouTube video I’ll use, or game I’ll implement… but is this how Paul, Stephen, or Peter went about their planning (minus the YouTube clips and games).
Paul says, “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
To put it plainly, Paul is simply saying, I don’t need eloquent words, smooth transitions, or human wisdom. The cross of Christ, and the power of God is simply enough!
Paul’s prep seemed to be the opposite of what our prep can look like today. Eloquent wisdom, and persuasive words were detracting.
In preaching, our goal is not to create a message to persuade them with our witty humor or eloquent words… but to hand our mouths over to God and surrender this opportunity to Him knowing that nothing we say or do can permanently transform or turn any heart or soul towards Him… Sometimes they can walk away more focused on how Good of a communicator we are, sometimes they can be more focused on the media or the game, sometimes we do the exact opposite of what we were attempting to do, and distract people from Christ and the gospel…
Darrin Patrick, pastor of “The Journey” says:
“You know you’ve heard a good sermon when the preacher’s voice is drowned out by the voice of God through the text…”
For some reason, so many times I can fall into deceiving myself into believing that I am a better communicator then God.
So the question is this: how can we as speakers be more effective at preaching and teaching? How can we better rely on the text, his words, and power, more so on transitions and games?