4 Youth Sermon Topics from the Psalms

youth sermon topics

1. Psalm 1: Just like a tree that’s planted by the waterside…

Bible passage: Psalm 1

Key message: Studying the Bible helps you grow roots and bear fruit

Synopsis: There are many reasons why it’s a good habit to study the Bible regularly. One of them is the central message of this Psalm. If we ‘delight’ in God’s Word, we grow roots that will last a lifetime and make our faith stand strong, even in times of drought. What does it mean to delight in God’s Word? It means reading, studying, meditating (= thinking about it) and then applying it. How do you score on these four and what could you do to grow in this area? How strong are your roots right now? And what does it mean to bear fruit? This is mostly about character, a godly character that will be blessed by God. [Read more…]

Bullying brings status: an anti-bullying policy for youth ministry


Bullying is gaining more and more attention from researchers, school, parents, lawmakers and others and rightly so. In the last few years, there have been several heartbreaking stories of the effects of bullying and it’s a serious problem we need to address as youth leaders as well.

We can’t pretend bullying doesn’t happen in youth ministry. I should know, I left the teen ministry of my own church as a teen because I was bullied and the leaders did little or nothing to stop it. I still attended my ‘home church’, but I was involved in another church’s youth ministry (one that was way less radical in its message I might add!) because I was accepted there and felt safe.

We need to stop any and all bullying in our youth ministries. But what does an affective anti-bullying policy look like?

[Read more…]

Seder Meal Experience: go deep and authentic this Easter

Seder plate

A few years ago we wanted to do something different for Easter, to make our students more aware of the Jewish roots of the Pesach or Passover fest. We decided to organize a ‘traditional’ Jewish Seder meal, also known as a Pesach or Passover meal, but with Jesus at the centre. You could call it a Messianic Seder Meal.

The Seder Meal is held on the Thursday before Easter and it’s a combination of a ritual meal with lots of rituals that have a deep symbolism and an actual meal with great (Jewish) food. It’s the famous ‘last supper’ Jesus celebrated with His students. [Read more…]

Stress management in youth ministry


This is the fourth and last post in a short series in dealing with stress in youth ministry. We’ve been talking about the stress that is youth ministry and why youth ministry may even be extra stressful compared to other jobs. In the last post we’ve discussed how you can acknowledge, recognize and identify the stress in your life and youth ministry. This brings us to the fourth step: preventing stress.

Let me start with the bad news: you’ll never completely eliminate stress from your youth ministry job, whether you’re a volunteer or on staff. Working in a church, working with people and especially young people will always result in some amount of stress. But there are things you can do to keep the stress level acceptable and healthy.

[Read more…]

Preventing stress in youth ministry

stressed man

We’ve been talking about the stress that is youth ministry and why youth ministry may even be extra stressful compared to other jobs. So to summarize: youth ministry is stressful, even more than other jobs. The question that needs an answer is then what we can do about it. Is preventing stress in youth ministry even an option and if so, how do we go about achieving that?

Step 1: Acknowledging stress

Preventing stress in youth ministry isn’t an easy-breezy thing to do. It starts with taking stress seriously and not just saying or thinking that stress is normal or that it’s just part of your job. Yes, a certain amount of stress is normal in youth ministry, but not to the point where it affects your health or makes you consider quitting. So acknowledge what you feel isn’t normal and go from there.

[Read more…]

The discipleship approach that got Paul Martin fired


Paul Martin is a youth pastor who has just moved from Birmingham, Alabama to a small town in Nebraska (wow, talk about a change of scenery!) and he has recently published the brilliant book Masterpiece: The Art of Discipling Youth (be sure check out the review of Masterpiece we did). Since I only know Paul from his equally brilliant blog, I thought I’d ask him some questions about his book, discipling, youth ministry and whatnot.

A lot of books are written from what Bill Hybels calls a ‘holy discontent’, was it the same for you?

It’s true in the sense that this was a book I needed to write. I felt crazy for 15 years for how I did discipleship and youth ministry. I worked in several churches but what they said and wanted me to do, was different from what I did.

I was working in this church and at a certain point I was told that I needed to learn to perform. Only six months before I had exceeded all expectations in my review, but now they were unhappy with how I was doing things. There had been budget cuts and I had lost my staff. We didn’t have money anymore, so I started to do discipleship the way Jesus did it. And I ended up getting fired for it. [Read more…]

The power of shame: I’m saying ‘me too’


If you have never heard of Brene Brown, you’re missing out. Brene Brown is ‘Vulnerability TED’ as she says herself, a worldwide ‘celebrity’ after her famous TED talk on vulnerability I blogged about before. It’s a talk that has had a lot of impact on me as well, which was why I was very motivated to watch a new TED talk from Brene Brown, this time on shame.

Now shame and vulnerability aren’t topics that appeal to a lot of us at first glance. But what Brene Brown has to say is important and it has consequences for how we do youth ministry as well.

In youth ministry, I think we’re at a cross point, a point where we have to choose a new direction, a new way of doing things. But deciding on a new way of doing youth ministry involves risk, innovation, change…and none of these happen without vulnerability and every single one will make you face shame.

[Read more…]

7 Youth Sermon Ideas from the OT

youth sermon topics

1. Joseph: Trusting God in difficult circumstances

Bible passage: Genesis 39, Romans 8:28

Key message: God will use our difficult circumstances for good if we trust Him

Synopsis: Joseph was first sold into slavery by his brothers, then falsely accused by the wife of his employer, resulting in him being out in jail. Yet God blessed him where ever he was and ultimately made him king of Egypt under the pharaoh. God used Joseph’s difficult circumstances for good, but it called for trust and patience on Joseph’s side. Can we do the same in the midst of our difficult circumstances, can we trust God to use these for good?

Tip: don’t forget to explain who Joseph was, not every student will be familiar with his story. [Read more…]

Why youth ministry is (extra) stressful


In the previous post on The Stress that is Youth Ministry, we saw some shocking statistics about pastors and stress. But let’s face it: even though the scope of responsibility may differ, being a youth pastor isn’t that different from being a pastor. Especially in bigger churches, leading the youth ministry can be a lot like leading a church. Which means that those statistics may very well be or become a reality for youth pastors as well.

[Read more…]

The stress that is youth ministry

stressed out man

Youth ministry seems to be synonymous with stress. Ask a youth pastor how he or she is doing and the most likely answer will be ‘busy’ or ‘very/extremely/absurdly busy’. Or maybe when they feeling like sharing, they’ll even say ‘stressed’. I have met very youth pastors or youth workers lately who weren’t overworked, busy, and/or stressed to the point where it really wasn’t funny anymore.

See if any of the following sounds familiar to you:

You’re working (far) more hours than you should or have to

You’re experiencing constant stress

You often feel tired, exhausted even

You often feel overwhelmed to the point of either panic or the inability to act at all

You’re experiencing spiritual drought [Read more…]