I’ve noticed that the messages I give each week to teenagers have been getting shorter–and I like it. To be frank, the students like it, too. It’s not because they can’t wait until it’s over either. (I’ve had about ten years to work on not being Charlie Brown’s teacher.) I believe it’s because they are pretty fried when they show up on Wednesday nights. They’ve been at school all day. They are thirteen, twelve, eleven, and sometimes ten. They listen, but only for a few moments. The more I incorporate experiential teaching with the elements of the message, the more they absorb. The more I think about where they are coming from, the more they connect with the words I’m saying. The more I value them as human beings and don’t put them in a 45 minute sermon coma, the more they trust me when I speak to them.
So lately, I’m pretty cool with writing ten minute sermons. Sometimes, when there is a really great story to tell they can stretch to 15-20 minutes–that time frame is still kind to their teenage attention spans. Shorter messages, intentional preaching with varying forms, a genuine desire to connect, and the power of the Gospel combined equal something really great for us. The students are more likely to come back for more and remember the point going out the door.
What do your youth talks look like? If they are longer, how do you incorporate different things for different learning styles? Do you ever change your preaching style and use different forms?