My friend Matt pointed out this great article from Gospel Coalition about 5 phrases for ever youth group talk. Here is the first couple of them, head there for the rest:
1. If you’re not a Christian . . .’
More so than any other demographic, students are in the midst of a fluid, dynamic journey. Because of the way they rapidly progress through different developmental phases, teenagers are constantly facing questions related to their identity and place in the world. They are trying to figure out whether or not they will follow Jesus. No matter how “Christian” a youth group may appear, one must always acknowledge students who do not identify themselves as Christians just yet, or kids who are “closet agnostics.” By acknowledging non-Christians in the audience, you are communicating that they are welcomed in the group. You are saying that they are allowed to carefully and patiently think things through with God. You also give yourself an opportunity to address questions that they may have but do not ask. I usually ask these type questions by saying, “If you’re not a Christian, one thing you may be wondering is . . .” When we do not make this statement at some point, we risk alienating non-Christian kids and creating an atmosphere where they may feel the need to fake it to feel included.
2. ‘What this word means is . . .’
Have you ever read a legal contract? Did you understand any of the words? Did you feel helpless and stupid because you were agreeing to something, when in reality you had no idea what you were signing off on? People often use jargon as a way to create an “insider culture” that makes others feel on the outside. Often, Christian leaders use this same practice when they use biblical and theological terminology without explaining their terms. Students need to boost their Christian vocabulary; it’s helpful for them to know words like justification, sanctification, sin, and faith. At the same time, while we use Christian lingo, we also need to explain what it means for two reasons. First, this prevents us from alienating students without a long church history who have no idea what we’re talking about. Second, it helps these powerful words stay fresh, rather than trite.