Preaching to teenagers can be extremely challenging but extremely rewarding.
After spending years working as a youth pastor, I have learned a few things about preaching to teenagers.
These lessons were hard-learned through trial and error. Mostly error.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything you need to know. But hopefully these tips will help some of you not have to learn the hard way like I did.
7 Tips for Preaching to Teenagers
1. Be Authentic
Be yourself. Don’t try to be cool. Don’t try to act just like a teenager or use all the same slang they use. Students have a built-in poser detector. They can spot a fake a mile away.
We have all met the 40-year-old youth pastor who is trying way too hard to be “hip.” Don’t be that guy.
We have also met the 20-year-old youth pastor who tries way too hard to be a hipster. Again, don’t be that guy.
Teenagers want to know: Do you really care about them? Do you really have an authentic relationship with Jesus? Do you really practice what you preach?
Authenticity is the one of the most important things you can have as a speaker. It doesn’t matter how polished your sermon is, if you aren’t authentic they won’t listen.
How are you involving the audience?
Take a poll by raising hands. Ask them to shout answers to a question. Pull a few people up on the stage for a visual illustration. Ask the audience to stand, sit, jump, close their eyes, look at something, make a noise, act something out, play a game, dance …
Whatever you do, teenagers love interacting with a message. It is always better to have some level of involvement from the audience than just making them sit still, shut up and listen the whole time.
3. Tell Stories
Jesus is the best preacher ever. He told a lot of stories. You should too.