A part of almost every youth worker’s job description is weekly teaching. It looks different depending on your context; for some it is leading a discussion and for others it is a microphone, a stage, and PowerPoint. No matter what it looks like for you, it can be a tough thing to do well. Even though speaking has always been one of my favorite things to do, doing it every week is still a challenge. Here are a few things I have found that help me do my very best week in and week out.
1. Don’t compare yourself to national speakers
I have left conferences or camps several times feeling bad about my own speaking abilities. If you have ever done this, take this advice: STOP! It took me a while to get over this, but the more I spoke to the same audience every week the more I realized I had a completely different responsibility than those hired speakers. They have one shot to make a big splash . I am helping a specific group consistently learn more about God and the Bible. They give the same few messages over and over again, I give a message once and start over the next day. You are comparing apples to oranges; STOP!
2. Get into a regular routine
Preparation is the difference between a good message and a great one. Even if speaking is a big part of your weekly responsibilities, everything else can and will get in the way of your prep time if you let it. Going from a blank document to a finished polished message with handout and upfront presentation is a lot of work. Using message resources can definitely save you a lot of time but you still must take time to prep, pray, and make it your own.
3. Schedule out a teaching plan
When teaching every week it doesn’t take long to exhaust your favorite passages, common youth topics, and your best jokes and illustrations. Soon you end up rotating between the gospels and sexual purity the entire year while throwing in an occasional message based on a popular YouTube video just because it is different. There is more to God’s story and your students deserve to learn from the entire Bible; David and Goliath isn’t the only Old Testament story that makes a good sermon!
The best way to stay out of a message rut is to purposefully write out a teaching plan. My plans consist of a mix of Old and New Testament, going through a book of the Bible, a topical series, and “once every year” things like sexual purity and mission/vision. Also challenge yourself once a year with something you are a little bit scared of or is unfamiliar; my DYM series A Season in the Minors and Is It the End or Not? both came from me taking that challenge.
Teaching teenagers the Bible every week is a huge honor and privilege as well as a challenge. What things would you add to the list to be more successful at it?
Brian Seidel is the Associate Pastor to Families at the Cloverdale Church of God and can be found online at http://brianseidel.net/.