Our brain was created to pay attention to movement. That is why when you play hide and seek, you find a spot and don’t move. Conversely, if you are stranded in the wilderness and spot a rescue helicopter, you would jump and flail your arms. Motionless things get ignored while moving things capture attention. This is true for preachers too.
5. Talk to Them
If you want to engage teenagers, talk to them. If you know that teenagers are in your audience, apply points of your sermon to their life too. Don’t just use examples of how this works in marriage or business. Look at a section of young people and apply the message to their friendships, school or relationship with their parents.
If you make a point to speak to teenagers, they will make a point to listen. Show them your sermon is not just for adults.
6. Use Words They Understand
Avoid big words. If the average teenager needs a dictionary for your sermon, you need to change your vocabulary. Academic and theological terms are helpful if you define them. However, if you don’t explain big words, you immediately alienate anyone in your audience who isn’t as educated as you.
7. Vary Your Tone and Pace to Engage Teenagers
There … is … nothing … more … boring … than … a … monotone … preacher. Please, don’t be that pastor!
Speak at a solid pace, then slow down or speed up for emphasis. Don’t be afraid to raise your voice for excitement, make sound effects when telling a story, or whisper in a tender moment. Moving your voice, like moving your body, captures attention.
So here is your homework. Look at your next message and ask:
- • Am I being authentic?
- • Am I telling stories?
- • Are my illustrations dated?
- • Am I hiding behind the podium or my notes?
- • Is there a moment I can speak directly to teenagers?
- • Am I using any words they might not understand?
- • Am I varying my vocal tone and pace?