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?
i’ve noticed the same things. i’ve actually found it difficult for students to enjoy reading scripture because it feels more like a text to them than an adventure. so i’ve become a very similar teacher. 10 minutes. creative to hit on as many learning styles as possible, but deep enough to feel like they are getting the gospel each week. it’s a tough recipe to perfect for sure. what are some of your suggestions/resources/ideas for teaching effectively?
Hey Matt, there are a lot of things that have helped me but one of the most helpful has been a book by Dan Boone. It’s called “Preaching the Story that Shapes Us” Within, are forms for all types of sermons. They’re easy to remember. It also helps me to organize my thoughts to keep it short, deep, relevant, applicable–at the same time. I particularly like the four page sermon form or “sandwich” where you find the problem in the text/ problem in the world then address the grace in the text/ grace in the world–filling in illustrations and transitions as you go. Good stuff. Hope this helps.
Interesting post, Brooklyn. It triggered one from me at http://www.ymjen.com/2010/10/1/why-i-don-t-give-talks.