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Keeping your audience’s attention: 8 things you can do in advance

This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth. Teenagers are notorious for their short attention span. Yet I have seen them listen to speakers for 45 minutes and even more, fully interested and captivated. The reason? These preachers managed to keep their attention. So what’s their secret?

There are some things you can do in advance, when preparing your sermon, to ensure you’ll keep your audience hooked. I’ll discuss these in today’s post. But there are also things you can do while giving your sermon, to make sure you keep the attention or to get it back when you’ve lost it. We’ll talk about these next time.

If you want to prepare a sermon that will keep your audience’s attention, here are 8 things you can do: Continue reading Keeping your audience’s attention: 8 things you can do in advance

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Preaching for youth: Using Stories in Your Sermon

[This post is part of the Preaching for Youth series] Stories are a powerful tool when preaching for youth, for any audience really. People love stories, we sit up and pay attention the minute someone starts telling a story and it seems like we are wired such that we always want to know how a story ends.

Think about it, the parts everyone remembers best about the Bible are the stories. As a matter of fact, lager parts of the Bible are narratives…Daniel in the lion’s den, Samson destroying the Philistines, David and Goliath. These are powerful stories that keep us engaged till the end. And Jesus did the same thing, using stories over and over again to make his point. Continue reading Preaching for youth: Using Stories in Your Sermon

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The Importance of Making your Youth Sermon Personal

This post is part of the Preaching for youth series. If you want to captivate teens and students, you’re gonna have to get personal. In my sermons for youth, I’ve shown photo’s of my wedding, my baptism, my first boyfriend and my high school friends and have shared many personal stories. These kids know more about me in some ways than my best friends and family do, I’ve shared experiences with them that my mom doesn’t even know about (sorry mom)!

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How Long should your Youth Sermon be?

This is part of the series on Preaching for Youth. The question of how long your sermon should be when preaching for teens or students is one that I’ve been asked often. And it’s a good question, because the length of your sermon is something to be considered. Young people are notorious for their short attention span, so anyone with some experience in youth ministry knows that that is something to take into account. And yet…

I don’t believe in a strict maximum length when preaching for youth. Granted, when preaching in youth services, I mostly keep it around 20-25 minutes, but it’s not a hard rule. Ultimately, it’s not about how long a sermon is, but if the speaker manages to keep the attention of the audience. I’ve heard ten-minute messages that lost me after sixty seconds and I’ve sat through hour-long messages that never once made me look at the clock. Continue reading How Long should your Youth Sermon be?

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Small group rules

For some reason, a lot of small group leaders are afraid to come up with rules for their small group. Sometimes even the mention of the word rule seems to throw them into a frenzy. There’s this idea that hospitality and warmth in a small group are not compatible with rules, that if you want teens and students to feel welcome in your house, you have to give them complete freedom.

I don’t agree with that. If you want you small group to function well, you need rules. Because a small group session that’s interrupted by the constant ringing and bleeping of cell phones really isn’t productive. And unless you want your furniture demolished, some ground rules about the use of your home might come in handy too.

Students don’t mind rules, they’re used to them. They have rules in their own homes, in school, in the sports they’re playing. They know about rules, so they won’t be surprised that you have some for small group as well.  And the great things about clear rules that you’ve agreed on together, is that you can actually tell people when they’re violating them.

You can only enforce the rules if you've made them clear

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Time management in Youth Ministry: designing the ideal week

In the series Time Management in Youth Ministry we’re checking out all kinds of ideas, tools and tips for becoming more efficient and more effective. Today’s topic is designing the ideal week. What would your perfect work week look like? Note that I’m saying work week, not vacation or retreat. I know what that would look like…we’d all head to Hawaii, right? But let’s focus on work, if you were to describe your ideal work week, what would you wish for?

Have you ever though about your ideal work week?

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Preaching for youth: Sermon Language

This is part four in a series on preaching for youth. Today we will focus on language. What guidelines are there with regard to the kind of language you have to use when preaching for teens or students? Here’s my list of three things you should avoid.

Don’t try to be hip

It can be like, you know, really irritating if you are trying to be down with the lingo, you know? Like, really irritating. Enough already.

Don’t start using words you wouldn’t normally use, just to appear hip and happening. You’ll come across as fake and sort of desperate. Trust me, not the kind of image you want to project. You don’t need to be anything else but yourself to connect with youth. Continue reading Preaching for youth: Sermon Language

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Time Management in Youth Ministry: becoming efficient and effective

I’m one of those people who believes in the benefits of good time management. Why would I want to spend an hour on something when half an hour would be enough if I would just do it differently? Over the last ten years, I have tried out many things to become more efficient. Some were very successful, some not so much, and in this new series on Time Management in Youth Ministry I will share much of what I have learned, along with some lessons others have written down.

Generally speaking, as youth leaders we need all the efficiency we can get, because there’s always more work than can be done in the time we have. Our overflowing inboxes prove that we’re still not on top of our email, our to-do-lists seem to get longer instead of shorter and there’s always this nagging thought in the back of our head that we still haven’t done this or that…

Time management can help you become efficient: doing more useful work with less energy

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Four risks of making your sermon too practical

[This post is part of the series on preaching for youth.] we’ve all heard it at some point: teens don’t have the abilities yet to deal with abstract concepts (or more accurately: some do and some don’t and even the ones who can, aren’t able to ‘go abstract’ all the time). That means our messages for teens need to be concrete, practical.

However, there are several risks involved in making your message too practical. Yes, there is such a thing as too concrete and too practical… Continue reading Four risks of making your sermon too practical

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Preaching for youth: What’s your key message?

This is part of the series on preaching for youth, be sure to check out the rest of the series! There are myriad ways to write a sermon. Some people prefer to write it out word for word. Others only write down keywords. There are people who are a big fan of using mind maps in one or more phases of their sermon preparation. All in all, it doesn’t really matter, you just have to find a style that suits you.

One thing is essential though, regardless of your method, and that is your key message. Every sermon has to have one, and it’s no different when your audience consists of teens or students. In each sermon, you should only discuss one key message, one central idea. Continue reading Preaching for youth: What’s your key message?