“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.
Super focus on a key message
When you have so little time, it’s even more important to focus on a key message. What exactly do you want to say? What do you want to get across in these ten minutes? Make sure you have this crystal clear, so you’ll be on target all ten minutes.
Encourage or challenge
If you only have ten minutes for your sermon, you’ll need a key message that’s affirming, encouraging or at the most challenging. Don’t try to correct or admonish, because of the time constraints you can’t do this in a context of love and you’ll end up preaching the rules, not the relationship.
Structure your sermon
Even when it’s a ten minute talk, you have to structure your sermon. Make a short intro, for instance a personal story of about a minute. Then go straight for the key message and close off with an ending of about one or two minutes. You may be tempted especially to skip the opening, but you’ll need that to get their attention. Even for a short sermon, you need to convince them to listen to you.
Write out your sermon
Because you only have a limited time, you’ll need to write out your sermon so you know exactly how long it is. You’re not gonna be making friends if you overrun by five minutes on a ten minute sermon! Write it out, check to see if each paragraph is contributing to your key message, practice it a couple of times so you know exactly how long it is and then stick to your plan. You don’t have the time to improvise!
I’ve seen people underestimate the challenge of a ten minute sermon. In many ways, preaching for thirty minutes is far easier because you have more time to get your key message across, you have time to improvise, etc. As a result, people don’t always prepare these short talks as well. They figure they’ll just wing it. Well, you can’t wing any sermon and especially not a short one. Also, preparing well means you’ll probably be less nervous.So prepare well, practice well and deliver well.
Have you ever given a ten minute sermon to youth? What advice would you give to someone who’s worried about this?