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.
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.
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?