Improving YTH Communication Through Sermon Preparation
Running From The Rescuer
‘A woman had gotten into her car after work one night and was driving home after a long day. As she was on her way home, she noticed that a truck was following close behind her. Not thinking much about it at first, she continued driving on her usual route home.
About half-way home, she began to worry because the truck continued following her. She decided to take some random turns to see if the truck was indeed following her. Every turn she took the next few minutes, the truck continued to follow her. Getting very close several times.
Now panicked, she jumped onto a highway ramp and sped up to try and get away from the truck that was chasing her. But the truck continued to follow her. Even more desperate now, she exited the highway and noticed a gas station just up on her right.
Increasing her speed, she drove recklessly into the station and jumped out of her car and ran into the station as the attendant came from around the counter to comfort her.
Sure enough, as they looked out the window into the parking lot, the truck that was following her flew into the parking lot and drove up next to the woman’s car. Bounding from his truck, the man ran over to the woman’s car and opened the back door. He leaned into the car and pulled out a man from the back seat of the woman’s car and threw him to the ground.
As the station attendant and the woman walked into the parking lot and up to the car, they realized what was now going on.
The woman was actually running from the person who was trying to save her life. From his vantage point in his truck, the man could see that a would-be stalker had entered the woman’s car and was waiting to abduct her. But he was following her to save her life.’
YTH Communication Principles
I’m sure you were caught up in this compelling story. That’s what stories do. But, of the many ways that a YTH Leader will communicate, stories are only a part of it. There are many other methods of communication. Leadership meetings, student mentoring, parental interaction, community involvement, and relationships on the staff of the Church to name a few more.
But, one of the YTH Leader’s most valuable communication methods is the preparing and delivery of sermons. I realize that in many settings there is a micro emphasis upon the YTH homily. I’ve listened to and witnessed the lessened importance of preaching and teaching in YTH Ministry.
But, even in an era where some leaders devalue the role of the sermon, the YTH Leader’s sermon is critical to evangelism, discipleship, vision, and organizational strategy and movement that brings transformation in students and leaders lives.
So, here are some simple general principles that will help with improving YTH communication:
Personal Spiritual Development - This would include the personal life disciplines of the leader that prepare the leader before the leader prepares sermons. Personal spiritual development is the first step in preparing a sermon. Never underestimate the impact of your personal spiritual health and the movement that it can bring to the YTH Ministry.
This would include prayer, reading the bible, fasting, study, worship, giving, and other similar spiritual disciplines. These will create integral messengers who will create powerful messages.
Creating a Setting for Study - This is important to the sermon preparation. It give you a place to think, pray, listen, study, and write. Inspiration is often waiting in solitude. The best setting is a quiet place where you can get away from busyness for about 15 hours of prep weekly.
Make sure that the coffee shop is not the ONLY place you are preparing sermons. That can yield great information but it is not the place for you to pray through the messaging. It is difficult to receive the inspiration you need in a public place.
Resources - Some of the elementary resources you are going to need to prepare YTH sermons begin with internet connectivity, a good study bible, storytelling, and commentary series. There are a variety of these.
I use internet sites such as barna.org (statistics and research), ted.com (leadership talks), bbc.com (for global news), Matthew Henry commentary, Manners and Customs of the Bible (Freeman and Gower), and podcasts of my favorite leaders (Francis Chan, Interlinc, Seth Godin, Brian Houston, and Malcolm Gladwell). Finally, as it relates to stories, I go to Reader’s Digest and the internet for great illustrations.
Topical or Series Development - Creating the topics or series is another important part of the YTH Leader’s communication and sermon planning. This will become the messaging that the entire YTH Ministry will hear in a given year. Make sure that you are as complete as possible with the topics and as creative as possible with the series.
I believe some of the essential topics that we should deal with in YTH Ministry would be topics such as Creating a Biblical Worldview (Theology), Family Modeling, Redeeming Social Media, Campus Missionaries, Relationships, Identity, The Sexual Revolution, and Calling and Occupation.
Organizing a Collaboration Team - It is important to share the burden of sermon planning with a team. A few middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, and adults will bring a diversity to the process. This principle is critical for several reasons.
Beyond the YTH Ministry ownership that a collaborative team places in each team member, it brings varying thought, age stage ideas, differing gifts, and new language to the YTH Leader. Sharing this responsibility with others is necessary for strategic sermon communication.
Guest Communicators - Sometimes it can be easy and convenient to be the only voice of the YTH Ministry. But a guest brings new language, a view from a broader setting, trends or traits from a new setting, a gifting other than Pastor, or even unity with other organizations or Churches.
It does take trust and thought to bring in a guest. But an invitation to someone who is outside of the local YTH Ministry setting can become a university of influence to the students and leaders. Consider another YTH Pastor, an educator, a coach, a missionary, or a YTH professional (such as ythology).
A Little Effort
These practical points to increasing your communication to teenagers will take the YTH Ministry to another level. Spiritual discipline, creating a setting, acquiring resources, developing series, organizing a collaborative team, and having guests in the ministry are all great influences on YTH communication.
It will take some effort. But the effort will help to improve communication and messaging. It will alleviate the workload for the YTH Leader and take some pressure off preparation. Each of these principles will create shared ownership, collaboration, and healthy YTH Leaders who will create healthy YTH Ministry.