Preaching and music have gone together for hundreds of years. Whether it was John and Charles Wesley or Billy Graham and George Beverly Shea, utilizing music before, during or after a message has gone hand-in-hand with the preaching of the Word.

As a youth pastor, here are 7 post-modern techniques that you can use to utilize music the next time you get up to speak to a group of students:
1. Behind a dramatic story.
Take a few minutes to watch this clip:

Hollywood movies have been using music to heighten dramatic emotion ever since motion pictures first had sound. A well-chosen piece of music behind a well-told story can both connect students with the emotion of the story as well as draw students back into the message if they have become distracted.

Youth ministry veteran, Jeanne Mayo, is a master at appropriately using music during some of her stories. Here is Jeanne using music in her message:

2. As an opening hook.
Try using music at the beginning of your message as an opening hook to draw students in. Assuming it is thematically related to your topic or scripture, it will act as a pattern interrupt and grab the students’ attention from the moment you step on the stage.
3. To color the close of your message.
Similar to technique #1, use music during your closing story. It will heighten the emotional impact of the illustration as well as draw students back in for response. One of the best uses of music during a close I have ever heard was a youth speaker preaching on the topic of “heroes.” He used background music from a military movie (I think it was Saving Private Ryan soundtrack) and honored students in the room who were examples of being heroes in God’s Kingdom.
4. To set the environment in the room.
The next time you are preparing a message for your weekly youth group time, try using thematic music during student walk-in and walk-out. Whatever musical selections you choose, try to ensure that they tie-in to the message theme and will help center students around that.
5. To remove the awkward silence from response time.
Consider utilizing music after the close of your message to set the tone for student response and prayer. There continues to be great power to help people connect with God through music when is used in conjunction with the preaching of the Word.
6. To directly communicate the theme.
Prepare a message that uses a full song with lyrics that directly communicated the main theme of your message. You can choose to have the students “listen” to it in the form of a music video or just play the audio of the song and have them close their eyes and focus on what is being sung/rapped/spoken.
7. During audience interaction.
If you are implementing a student interaction/activity during your message, trying putting some music behind it. Does the activity have a bit of fun and frivolity? Choose some up-tempo, high energy music to set the tone for the activity.
Matt Maiberger has been involved in student ministry for two decades. He is currently the Associate Pastor of Life Church, in Fort Collins, CO and the founder of Youth Speaker’s Coach.