Offering reliable and trustworthy information


There have been some serious floods in our area a few weeks ago due to heavy rainfall. Luckily the small village where we live is on a hill, so we escaped damage, but many towns around us have been flooded as rivers rose too high.

This weekend, we were confronted with an unexpected result of the flooding: our drink water has been contaminated as the sewer system couldn’t handle this much water. We can’t consume our water without boiling it first.

It’s a bit of a hassle that makes you appreciate the necessity of clean drinking water, that first and foremost. But it also made me ponder the importance of reliability.

I’ve always trusted our drinking water, trusted that it was safe, healthy and good for me. After this, that trust is somewhat damaged, although the water company did a great job in being open and honest and warning everyone about what’s going on.

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10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo


When I saw Tony Campolo was leading a preaching master class on the early day of the Youth Work Summit, I immediately booked this stream. He’s a brilliant communicator and I was pretty stoked to be able to spend a whole day learning from him. And I have to say: he didn’t disappoint. He was funny, sharp, and wise and I could have listened to him for hours more. Let me share some of the highlights of what he taught that day: 10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo himself.

1. Make sure you have the gift

Speaking, preaching, teaching, whatever you want to call it: it’s a gift. You need to have this gift if you want to have an impact. Churches are dying because their pastors don’t have the gift of teaching, so make sure you have a call and a gift to preach.

2. Prepare physically

This is something Tony Campolo could speak on with authority, considering he’s in his seventies and still going strong. He stressed the need to be physically fit, to eat well and keep yourself in shape to be able to keep going.

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Why God’s promises can cover a multitude of our sins in teaching


God’s Word never returns empty.

It’s a great promise and an encouragement for youth leaders who are trying to reach students with God’s words. But it’s also one of those promises that can cover a multitude of sins. Our sins in bad, lazy teaching for instance. Our sins in not building deep and true relationships with the students we minister to. Or our sins in failing to apply what we teach in our own lives.

[Read more…]

Using your voice effectively to captivate your audience


[This post is part of our series on Preaching for Youth]. We’re talking about using your voice effectively to captivate your audience when you preach. Yesterday we discussed the importance of being natural, finding your own natural rhythm and speaking clearly. Today we’ll give three more tips to use your voice effectively.

4. Use (some) dramatic tactics

When I was a kid I had a Sunday school teacher who could tell stories like no one else. When she did the Bible story, everyone was captivated and you could hear a pin drop. My own mom also was a great storyteller, she often told made up stories at night when we were on vacation and my sister and I hung on every word.

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Captivating your audience by using your voice effectively


[This post is part of our series on Preaching for Youth]. I have listened to sermons that were interesting in content, but so boring to listen to that I had to force myself to keep listening. I’ve also sat through quite a few sermons that weren’t spectacularly deep or rich, but kept my attention nonetheless. The difference often has to do with how speakers use their voice.

You can write the best sermon there is, with a great key message and a solid structure, but if you can’t captivate your audience while delivering it, it will be in vain. How you use your voice is a crucial element in your sermon presentation. The good news is: it’s also an aspect you can learn, practice and improve. Here are three tips to captivate your audience with your voice: [Read more…]

How to give a ten minute sermon to youth


“I have to preach to youth for ten minutes”. This is another search term used to find my site this last week. It may be me, but I’m sensing a bit of panic in this statement. Like someone just now realizes he somehow got roped into giving a talk to the teens and he has no idea how to do this. But no worries, we got you covered. Here’s what to do.

Pick a short verse or passage

If you only have ten minutes, you’ll need to pick a short verse or passage from the Bible to discuss. Otherwise, the Bible reading would take half of your time. Also, don’t pick anything too complicated in terms of theology or context, because you won’t have the time to explain a whole lot. [Read more…]

4 risks of repeated use of the same verses


[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth] YouVersion, a very popular mobile Bible app, released the ten most highlighted verses in the Bible. These were all indeed very familiar to me, as they are to you as well probably. But looking at these, something else occurred to me: how often do we use the same verses in our sermons?

I’m not talking about the passages we preach from, though even there some youth pastors definitely have their favorites. I’m talking about the passages and verses we use as an ‘extra’ for instance to make a point, to draw parallels, or to share the gospel. Let me just make a quick list and see if you recognize any: [Read more…]

Letting teens discover Biblical patterns themselves


There are patterns in the Bible. There’s a pattern of rebellion in the history of Israel. There’s a pattern of forgiveness and grace on God’s side. There’s a pattern of God picking some highly unlikely candidates for important jobs. There’s a pattern of sacrifices being made to atone for mankind’s sins. There’s a pattern of love. Unbelievable, indescribable, unimaginable love.

These patterns are important, because they show the bigger picture of God’s redemptive story. They’re important because they show why certain stories are in the Bible. They’re important because they show God’s consistent character and the depth of His love.

But do your teens see these patterns? Do they recognize them in your sermons, in the small group materials you use, in their private Bible reading? [Read more…]

How to pray during a sermon

praying hands

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth] In many churches it is customary to pray during a sermon. It can also be something you want to do yourself for various reasons, for instance as an opening or a closing to your sermon. Whatever the reason top pray during a sermon, how do you go about it?

Prepare your prayer

It’s important to think about what you want to say in your prayer. That’s not because God only hears perfect well-formulated prayers obviously, because that’s just nonsense. God cares about your heart when you pray, but that doesn’t mean you should always do it spontaneously.

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Helping your students with ‘anchoring’ new Biblical truths


In cognitive psychology there’s an interesting phenomenon called anchoring. It means that people will always try to anchor new knowledge, problems or issues to existing knowledge and experiences. This not only helps us to remember things better (example: the same math equations work for math, chemistry and physics), but it’s also a big help in problem solving skills. In short: anchoring is a very important part of the process of learning.

Example: when given a problem (‘How do I open this jar that is stuck’?) we automatically try to recall previous similar knowledge (‘A few weeks ago I managed to open one with a knife’) and experiences (‘I have to be careful to use the knife in the right direction, otherwise I’ll end up cutting myself like I did last time’).

This process of anchoring has some interesting and important consequences for teaching Biblical truths in youth ministry: [Read more…]