Practical Advice On Preaching God’s Word To Students
The students in our youth ministry need to be fed the Word of God. As youth pastors, we have the privilege and responsibility of preaching the Bible to our students. But, what’s the best way to do that—every Wednesday night? We’ve compiled a few key points to help you build momentum in the right direction.
Let’s dig in!
Privilege And Responsibility
God is reconciling the world to himself, by using us as ambassadors to engage others with this message of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5). We are God’s ambassadors to these students—what a privilege!
Paul charged Timothy to preach the Word of God. Notice how he worded this responsibility in 2 Timothy 4:1-2:
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom, preach the word.
Paul’s charged Timothy in the presence of God, by the judgment of God, by the coming of Jesus, and by the very kingdom of God. So, preaching the Bible is not only a privilege but also a weighty responsibility. When we preach the Word to such an impressionable age group, this places us in the millstone category (Luke 17:1-2).
Your Personal Time In The Word Is Crucial
“Too many Christians mark their Bibles, but their Bibles never mark them!” – Warren Wiersbe
Don’t neglect your personal time in God’s Word. Prepare to teach faithfully by encountering Jesus on a day-to-day basis.
You must first submit under conviction from our personal study of God’s Word. Then, you’ll be ready to lead your students: to meet with God, exhibit genuine heart change, and respond with conviction.
Know Your Audience
“Many a preacher misses the mark because, though he knows books, he does not know men.” – James Stalker
We need to prepare our sermons with our audience in mind. While the meaning of a passage will never change, your delivery of the sermon might change according to your audience. Keep your audience in mind to find the balance between preaching beyond or below their understanding. Use illustrations your students can identify with, and emphasize the main points more clearly.
Study Exegetically To Preach Expositional Sermons
“Biblical exposition binds the preacher and the people to the only source of true spiritual change. Because hearts are transformed when people are confronted with the Word of God, expository preachers are committed to saying what God says.” – Bryan Chapell
Study the Bible exegetically to prepare expositional sermons. Make sure you are digging into the core meaning of each passage. Then, you are able to turn it around and show it to students. Consider these five reasons for expositional preaching which begins with exegetical study.
- Expositional preaching helps us to proclaim what the Bible says, rather than our own ideas and opinions.
- Expositional preaching helps us keep our sermon passages in its proper context.
- Expositional preaching helps us to understand the more difficult doctrines because we are hitting on the surrounding passages which support it.
- Preaching through whole books of the Bible will cause us to touch on certain doctrines we wouldn’t normally cover.
- Preaching expositional sermons helps us to see how all of Scripture points to Christ and the Gospel (Luke 24:13-49; John 5:39).
Answer Objections Before Your Students Ask Them
Identify objections your students might have, and address them during the sermon. They will likely have the same questions you started with. By answering these objections, your students won’t check out with a question midway through your sermon and never check back in. And, the lost and skeptical kids in your youth group need to have these questions answered.
Do The Work Of A Minister
“If any man will preach as he should preach, his work will take more out of him than any other labor under Heaven.” – Charles Spurgeon
There is much more that we could say about sermon preparation, but at the end of the day sermon preparation requires that we work hard! Sermon preparation requires lots of time and lots of effort. We shouldn’t buzz through a passage of Scripture, open a commentary, or glance at a study guide for the main point and outline of our sermon. Push other things out of your way so you have time to soak in the passage of Scripture and understand the meaning. Put time into the technical side of your preparation as well. The takeoff and landing of your sermons matter. So go the illustrations and wording of the main points. All in all, when it comes to sermon preparation be ready to do the work!
You Be You
“It seems frankly, utterly unthinkable to me that authentic preaching would be the echo of another person’s encounter with God’s word, rather than a trumpet blast of my own encounter with God’s word.” – John Piper
When you preach, you be you. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing or even plagiarizing famous pastors and teachers. The simple truth is, God didn’t call these famous pastors or teachers to your youth group. He called you to these students. Out of many pastors God chose you to be his ambassador, to your students.
Say Less Better
“I am determined, as far as ever I can, to preach the gospel plainly and simply, so that everybody may understand it.” – Charles Spurgeon
Our students don’t need us to say more. They need us to say less.
Simplify your communication and make the main points the main focus. Let’s be humble and remove the pressure on ourselves to say everything we have learned about a passage or topic. Instead, aim to preach with clarity through simplicity.
“Illustrations are essential to effective exposition not merely because they easily stimulate interest but also because they expand and deepen understanding of a text.” – Bryan Chappell
Jesus is the master of illustrations in his parables. He typically illustrated his main points using the surrounding context. For example, Jesus talked about lost sheep, a treasure in a field, the prodigal son, the lost coin, the barren fig tree, the unforgiving servant, the Sower and seed, and many other illustrations.
Look to Jesus’ teachings to remember the importance of using illustrations when teaching. However, only use illustrations as they serve the message of the Scripture not as an excuse to tell funny stories.
Always be looking for ways to improve. Before you preach ask a friend, who is going to shoot straight with you to preview your sermon. Make sure they are not overly positive but also not overly negative. After you preach listen to an audio recording of yourself. This will likely be miserable, but this will be a practical way to hear how you can better present God’s Word to students.
“Preach you Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and Christ, and nothing else but Christ.” – Charles Spurgeon
Make your preaching Christ-centered. This means putting each passage into the context of Christ. Consider the stories of Joseph or David. Instead, of saying Joseph, faced his temptations. Why can’t you? David faced his giant, why can’t you? Instead, we need to be looking for Christ’s rescue in Joseph’s story or Christ triumph in David’s story?
If Christ isn’t the center of our preaching, then we are in danger of addressing symptoms with moral prescriptions. You’ve been called to expose deep problems and hold forth the only cure—Christ Jesus.
Trust The Lord. Trust His Word.
The simple truth is, we will learn more about the Bible (and our students) every week. The Holy Spirit is faithful to use his truth and our labor—to redeem lost souls and build up his Church. So let’s get busy. Abide in the Lord Jesus and his Scripture.
Keep going. Stay faithful even when you can’t see the fruit yet—Christ is working in ways you can’t see. Love your students well by loving Jesus first, and you’ll be equipped to love them with your heart, mind, and soul.
P.S. – We’d love to join the fight with you. We host a student ministry conference (completely free for youth pastors and wives) every fall. Contact us or visit the Iron on Iron Conference page to save your spot!