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5 Things NOT to Say to Hurting Teens

Pastoral conversations with teens require less skills than you might think. Listening really is the biggest skill you need.

But at some point you may feel it’s appropriate to say something, share some advice, or offer an encouragement. When you do, make sure what you say is helpful. While some empty clichés may not do too much harm, others can damage the trust and relationship. Continue reading 5 Things NOT to Say to Hurting Teens

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10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo

When I saw Tony Campolo was leading a preaching master class on the early day of the Youth Work Summit, I immediately booked this stream. He’s a brilliant communicator and I was pretty stoked to be able to spend a whole day learning from him. And I have to say: he didn’t disappoint. He was funny, sharp, and wise and I could have listened to him for hours more. Let me share some of the highlights of what he taught that day: 10 preaching tips from Tony Campolo himself.

1. Make sure you have the gift

Speaking, preaching, teaching, whatever you want to call it: it’s a gift. You need to have this gift if you want to have an impact. Churches are dying because their pastors don’t have the gift of teaching, so make sure you have a call and a gift to preach.

2. Prepare physically

This is something Tony Campolo could speak on with authority, considering he’s in his seventies and still going strong. He stressed the need to be physically fit, to eat well and keep yourself in shape to be able to keep going.

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Rules: it’s the ‘how’ that matters to teens

Contrary to what you may think, teens don’t have a problem with rules. But they may have an issue with how you bring them. How you communicate rules as a youth leader or a parent is a huge factor in teen’s decisions whether or not to stick to these rules.

The University of Gent (Belgium) has come to these conclusions after multiple researches amongst young people. Their conclusion is that you shouldn’t avoid rules with teens, but how you introduce them is important.

If you introduce rules in an authoritative and forceful way, teens will feel threatened in their freedom and will likely act out the opposite of the rules. This phenomenon is known as psychological reactance and it’s been well documented in several researches.

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Presenting the gospel in a five minute time slot

I’ve heard it when I was studying for my teacher’s degree (which was 15 years ago) and I’ve been hearing it ever since and in ever increasing intensity: young people can’t concentrate and if you want to reach them with your message, you have to do it in segments of five minutes, ten at the max.

Nonsense.

Kate John, one of the speakers at the Youth Work Summit in 2012, stated it as well. She said that the ‘standard’ for presenting the gospel to young people was by showing scenes from the Jesus movie accompanied by sad music, followed by a ten minute sermon on penal substitution. Obviously, that doesn’t work any more. Or so Kate John stated.

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Dealing with disruptions during your talk

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth]. Teens aren’t exactly the easiest audience for a speaker. Disruptions during a talk are fairly common as a matter of fact. Teen whisper with each other, or even talk out loud. They giggle, look at their cell phones, show pictures to each other. All the while, you’re standing there trying to give a talk. So how do you deal with these disruptions in an effective, yet loving way?

Ignore when possible

When it’s just a couple of teens talking a bit too loud with each other and the rest is still listening, ignore it. Usually, they’ll stop after a bit. Continue reading Dealing with disruptions during your talk

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The 7 habits of effective meetings

[This post is part of the series on Time Management in Youth Ministry]. Meetings have gotten a bit of a bad reputation. That’s because a lot of them are bad. They’re too long, unfocused, have way too many attendees and afterwards no one really knows what the point was. For many people, meetings feel like a complete waste of time.

But when meetings are done the right way, they cannot only become effective, they can actually become something to look forward to. Meetings are actually a very practical and good way of getting things done, especially in youth ministry where it’s always about people first. So how do you transform meetings into effective, something your leaders actually look forward to? Continue reading The 7 habits of effective meetings

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Dealing with nerves when giving a talk

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for youth]. Being nervous before or during a talk or sermon is completely normal. It’s not something to worry about or feel ashamed about.

But your nerves can hinder you from speaking freely and with conviction. So here are some tips on dealing with nerves while speaking to youth. There are four things you can do before hand and four tips for dealing with nerves while talking.

What you can do beforehand to minimize the changes of getting really nervous for a talk or sermon:

Know your stuff

When you’re prone to nerves, make sure you know your stuff. That means preparing your talk well and making sure you know it by heart. There should be no doubt in your mind that you have done everything you can in prepping your sermon, so that cannot cause extra nerves. You should be able to focus on your delivery because you have the content down to a t.

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7 rhetorical devices to spice up your sermon

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth]. In a sermon, content is king, there’s no doubt about that. It has to be first and foremost about communicating God’s Words, God’s truths to your students. But in communicating, it’s about words. Language matters when preaching and it’s a great and effective way to captivate your audience.

One of the things you can do in preparing your sermon, is spend some time coming up with good rhetorical devices to use. Rhetorical devices are certain linguistic techniques a speaker can use to draw attention to something or to convey a meaning. Their main goal is to make you more persuasive, but they have the added affect of bringing a bit of drama, changes in rhythm, diversity and even humor into your sermon.

Of course it’s not about stuffing your sermon to the max with rhetorical devices. They’re a tool, not a goal in itself, and they should be used with moderation at the right places to spice up your sermon. If you overuse the, rhetorical devices will only irritate your audience…not quite the result you were going for (and that’s an understatement 🙂 )

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7 elements of an attractive sermon delivery

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth] The content of a sermon always trumps style and delivery. If the content is bad, vague or unfocused, all the rhetoric means in the world can’t make up for it (though they can obscure the bad content a little bit).  But a bad delivery can let great content go to waste, especially when preaching for youth.

Young people won’t keep listening to a sermon that’s boring or unattractive, even if the content is awesome. We may not like that, we may even judge them for it, but it’s a reality. If you want young people to listen to what you have to say, you have to spend as much time on your delivery, on your rhetoric, as on your content. Continue reading 7 elements of an attractive sermon delivery

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What to do with your hands when you’re preaching

[This post is part of the series on Preaching for Youth]. It’s a question that haunts many public speakers: what to do with your hands while you’re talking or preaching? For some using their hands comes very natural, but for others this really is an area where they need to practice. So let’s have a look at using your hands effectively when preaching.

The most important advice is this: do what comes natural to you. I’m an active person by nature, I can’t sit still and I use a lot of gestures when I talk with someone. That means I do sort of the same when I preach, though I do tone it down for the sake of the audience. My point is that you need to use your hands in a way that’s natural to you. Continue reading What to do with your hands when you’re preaching