Just recently, I had the opportunity to ask a well-known evangelist if he had any advice in directing teenagers. What he shared with me was very helpful by realizing something that most YP’s miss today. Maybe this can be a help to you like it was to me. “What has always worked for me is that if I shoot straight with them, they greatly appreciate that. Teenagers today just want someone who will be honest with them. They want someone who will be real, not fake”
Later, the evangelist explained to me that when preaching to teenagers today, they think that you are singling them out amongst everybody. “Why does he have to pick on me?! What did I do to him?” If that is something you are finding to be common in your youth group, it is time to go back to the basics. Teens that feel that way have no true foundation laid. They do not understand the “why” in why we go to church, why we give tithes and offerings, why we must read our Bible, why I must be separated from the world, etc. What we think they already know, they don’t know. “There used to be a time when you would preach to teens and people in general, and they would say, ‘Yeah, he’s right. I need to get back to doing that because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve been slacking in that area.’ Whereas today, most of them don’t do that. They get upset because they know that’s the right thing to do, but they don’t understand the purpose in WHY we must do that.” Here’s a few questions to ask yourself, Youth Pastor, about your teens:
1. Are your teens saved?
“Of course they are!” would be most responses. Do you know that for a fact? Have you asked them personally? Can you recount a time when you heard their testimony or asked them for it personally?
2. Do they believe God’s Word to be true?
We often assume that EVERYONE believes God’s Word to be true as much as we do. That’s not always the case. We must often preach, teach, and mention WHY we use the King James Bible and the authority it has.
3. Do they have a relationship with God?
Do they realize the importance of a relationship with God? Do you often check in with your teens and their devotions? Ask them or even ask generally in Sunday School often what someone has gotten in their devotion time recently. The results may surprise you. If you get some answers, praise the Lord! Listen carefully and encourage that. If you don’t get many answers, you now know what to preach on in time to come.
4. Am I preaching topics that I can explain well?
Or am I challenging myself to study and preach the whole Book? It’s so easy and so tempting to preach only what we know and know well. A lot of us believe the whole Book, but we won’t preach the whole Book. Believe it or not, some teens take much interest in knowing about things to come. What’s the Tribulation? Where will I be when that happens? Some take interest in learning how to pray, where to start in ‘having devotions,’ growing in faith, etc. The possibilities are endless. There’s nothing wrong with preaching it hard, but let’s take what time we have with our teens and preach a solid foundation, to where they know WHAT they believe and WHY they believe it. Often times, every youth group will grow out of the faithful and reliable teenagers, and have a “re-building season” as we could say. Don’t forget to teach and explain the basics often!
Nathan Pitts | Youth Pastor
Riverland Baptist Church