How to preach each message to yourself.

What did you preach/teach on last week?   How often do we quickly hammer out a message to give to our midweek program?  How often do we approach a text with an idea in mind?  How often do we preach a message that we don’t care about, but we think would be cool?   My guess is that we do this a lot.  I do this a lot.  We need to change.

The Problem

For some reason we have looked at sermon-writing in youth ministry as something only the pros do.  Youth pastors rely too much on curriculum.  I think that if you want to take an idea and change it for your group that is fine, but for the most part we are preaching other peoples’ messages.  The students you work with know it’s phony.  They know it’s not you because it isn’t.  How could anyone be passionate about my stories? The problem is we are purchasing other peoples’ messages and we are not even thinking about them.  It’s like a last minute thought.  Have you done this?  To be honest, I have!  Early in my youth ministry days I had no idea how to prepare a message.  Where was I going to learn that?  Somehow I made it through Bible College without a course on speaking to teenagers.  I fell into that trap because it was easy, and I didn’t know anything else. The students you work with need a message from you!  That is why you are there.  Actually, you need a message from yourself.  You need to be battling all week with a message.  You need to be convicted by the truth in the passage.  You need to be moved to action.  You need to be changed.

The Change

I was challenged in the past year by a great youth pastor.  He asked me and some other youth pastor friends, “when was the last time you got down on your knees before you preached a message to students? ”  I remember looking around thinking, is he talking to me?  I was convicted at how often I was getting up to give a message and not praying.  As I read a book this past year called, Dangerous Calling, I was again convicted by my lack of prayer that went into each message, and how I wasn’t preaching the message to myself. We aren’t preaching to ourselves.  We aren’t being transformed by the word.  We are coasting, and we are maintaining the status quo.  We need to believe that what Paul was telling Timothy  in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 is crucial today: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  You need the word just as much as the teenagers you preach to do. If you are rushing your message or your series, you will not have the time to wrestle with your own message.  Trust me, you need that message more that the students need it.  I find that when the message is done the week before, I have time to pray over it, and really get a handle on what I am speaking about. Just as I was challenged this past year, I want to say this to you: When was the last time you got down on your knees before you preached a message to students? When was the last time you were moved by your own message?    
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14 Comments

  1. I'm gonna say this with a lot of respect because you know I value your blog and your posts on Youthmin Kolby, but here I disagree with you. I don't think 'the problem' is that youth pastors don't see themselves as professionals when it comes to sermon writing, I think the problem is that they don't have enough time to do it well. It's easy to judge youth pastors for using curricula or other people's sermons without taking into account the enormous pressure they are under to do everything well in their youth ministry. I agree that a lot of sermons could be better and I absolutely agree that every sermon has to start on your knees. I just think that a lot of youth pastors would want to approach sermon writing differently, more spiritually, but simply don't know where to find the time. That is the real problem if you ask me.
    • I definitely have seen that to be more true than I would like to admit. I'm one of the guys who is gung-ho about Youth Pastor's writing our own curriculum, but many week's I still find myself scrambling to get things done on Saturday Night. But I also think part of the problem lies in the training Youth Pastor's receive. I don't feel that the current set up for getting a degree in Youth Ministry comes even close to adequately training someone for Youth Ministry. With that, I think a lot is lacking in the realm of sermon prep and time management. Youth Pastor's dont know where to find the time, but the reality is, we do have the time if we try. I think it's too easy for us to maintain too low of a view of the Youth Ministry Sermon.
    • Love the comment Rachel! Thanks for the push back. I don't think it's the only problem, but one of them. If a message doesn't speak to me first, then I usually scrap it. I agree with @BenjaminRead:disqus when he says that we have to change the training. I would love to see a track at a youth ministry conference on how to create/write and deliver your own messages. btw rachel, I loved your posts on speaking to teenagers. It was awesome.
      • Oh I'm loving this conversation :) Ben Read I agree that time seems like an easy excuse. Some youth pastors may be able to find the time if they wanted to to do good message prep. But I've heard so many stories lately of people getting fired for not giving priority to what the church thought was priority. It's easy to say that you shouldn't want to work at a church like that, but with the bad economy people can't afford to lose their jobs. So that's one thing. Then there's the matter of bad time management and a lack of practical skills to make changes in that. On the other hand I also think that youth pastors don't always appreciate the importance of a solid message, or aren't critical enough towards their own preaching. I don't know what youth ministry training is like in the US, but I do think there's too little teaching on how to deliver a good message, esp to teens. It's a whole different ball game than preaching to 'grown ups' and people don't always realize that. As kolby milton pointed out, I've written a lot about this as I'm very passionate about good preaching...So I;m all for a preaching track on a conference, as a matter of fact I'd love to teach it :)
  2. I'm gonna say this with a lot of respect because you know I value your blog and your posts on Youthmin Kolby, but here I disagree with you. I don't think 'the problem' is that youth pastors don't see themselves as professionals when it comes to sermon writing, I think the problem is that they don't have enough time to do it well. It's easy to judge youth pastors for using curricula or other people's sermons without taking into account the enormous pressure they are under to do everything well in their youth ministry. I agree that a lot of sermons could be better and I absolutely agree that every sermon has to start on your knees. I just think that a lot of youth pastors would want to approach sermon writing differently, more spiritually, but simply don't know where to find the time. That is the real problem if you ask me.
  3. I'm gonna say this with a lot of respect because you know I value your blog and your posts on Youthmin Kolby, but here I disagree with you. I don't think 'the problem' is that youth pastors don't see themselves as professionals when it comes to sermon writing, I think the problem is that they don't have enough time to do it well. It's easy to judge youth pastors for using curricula or other people's sermons without taking into account the enormous pressure they are under to do everything well in their youth ministry. I agree that a lot of sermons could be better and I absolutely agree that every sermon has to start on your knees. I just think that a lot of youth pastors would want to approach sermon writing differently, more spiritually, but simply don't know where to find the time. That is the real problem if you ask me.
    • I definitely have seen that to be more true than I would like to admit. I'm one of the guys who is gung-ho about Youth Pastor's writing our own curriculum, but many week's I still find myself scrambling to get things done on Saturday Night. But I also think part of the problem lies in the training Youth Pastor's receive. I don't feel that the current set up for getting a degree in Youth Ministry comes even close to adequately training someone for Youth Ministry. With that, I think a lot is lacking in the realm of sermon prep and time management. Youth Pastor's dont know where to find the time, but the reality is, we do have the time if we try. I think it's too easy for us to maintain too low of a view of the Youth Ministry Sermon.
    • Love the comment Rachel! Thanks for the push back. I don't think it's the only problem, but one of them. If a message doesn't speak to me first, then I usually scrap it. I agree with @BenjaminRead:disqus when he says that we have to change the training. I would love to see a track at a youth ministry conference on how to create/write and deliver your own messages. btw rachel, I loved your posts on speaking to teenagers. It was awesome.
      • Oh I'm loving this conversation :) Ben Read I agree that time seems like an easy excuse. Some youth pastors may be able to find the time if they wanted to to do good message prep. But I've heard so many stories lately of people getting fired for not giving priority to what the church thought was priority. It's easy to say that you shouldn't want to work at a church like that, but with the bad economy people can't afford to lose their jobs. So that's one thing. Then there's the matter of bad time management and a lack of practical skills to make changes in that. On the other hand I also think that youth pastors don't always appreciate the importance of a solid message, or aren't critical enough towards their own preaching. I don't know what youth ministry training is like in the US, but I do think there's too little teaching on how to deliver a good message, esp to teens. It's a whole different ball game than preaching to 'grown ups' and people don't always realize that. As kolby milton pointed out, I've written a lot about this as I'm very passionate about good preaching...So I;m all for a preaching track on a conference, as a matter of fact I'd love to teach it :)
  4. Great reminder Kolby. We must be learners first before we communicate to our students. I was reminded once that even a sponge has to take water in before it can be wrung out...
  5. Great reminder Kolby. We must be learners first before we communicate to our students. I was reminded once that even a sponge has to take water in before it can be wrung out...

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