How much time do youth pastors spend preparing a sermon? [Poll]


Thom Rainer recently did an ‘unscientific’ research (as he called it) into how much time pastors take to prepare one sermon. The results were fascinating, but I don’t want to reveal them just yet because they might influence the voting in the poll I’d like you to participate in first.

I am very interested in how much time youth pastors spent preparing one sermon. Now, you may prepare more than one sermon a week, or combine a sermon and a small group study, but I’d like you to give your honest, best educated guess into how much time you spend preparing one youth sermon. [Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

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…]

Two ideas for sermon outline templates


Do you have a more or less standard sermon outline that works for you? If not, you may find some much needed fresh inspiration in these two sermon outline templates.

1. Head-heart-hand

This sermon outline is based upon the importance of stories in a sermon and it’s fairly straightforward:

Story opening

Head: what some are thinking now

Heart: what God says we should think

Hands: what we should do

Story closing

(source: Artie Davis)

[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…]

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.

[Read more…]

7 elements of an attractive sermon delivery

Churchill was known as a brilliant orator who used for instance rhetoric devices.

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth] The content of a sermon always trumps style and delivery. If the content is bad, vague or unfocused, all the rhetoric means in the world can’t make up for it (though they can obscure the bad content a little bit).  But a bad delivery can let great content go to waste, especially when preaching for youth.

Young people won’t keep listening to a sermon that’s boring or unattractive, even if the content is awesome. We may not like that, we may even judge them for it, but it’s a reality. If you want young people to listen to what you have to say, you have to spend as much time on your delivery, on your rhetoric, as on your content. [Read more…]

What to do with your hands when you’re preaching


[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth]. It’s a question that haunts many public speakers: what to do with your hands while you’re talking or preaching? For some using their hands comes very natural, but for others this really is an area where they need to practice. So let’s have a look at using your hands effectively when preaching.

The most important advice is this: do what comes natural to you. I’m an active person by nature, I can’t sit still and I use a lot of gestures when I talk with someone. That means I do sort of the same when I preach, though I do tone it down for the sake of the audience. My point is that you need to use your hands in a way that’s natural to you. [Read more…]

The secret structure of great talks


I saw this really interesting TED talk on the Youth Ministry Geek site and wanted to say a few words about it. It’s a talk by communication Nancy Duarte on the ‘Secret structure of great talks’. Nancy Duarte starts with pointing out that we have the power to change the world with our ideas, but that it comes down to communicating our ideas the right way.

She has analyzed great speeches to find out what the underlying structure was and has found a ‘secret structure’ that all these talks have in common. It turns out it’s about painting a vivid picture of what is and what could be, of making the status quo unappealing and selling your idea to change it. She shows analyses of Steve Job’s iPhone speech of 2007 and Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’, both of which show that pattern of going back and forth between what is and what could be. [Read more…]