Preaching to teenagers can be intimidating. There’s no question about it. It’s not an easy task to take on, but it’s one that’s absolutely worth the investment. The statistics are sad and shocking about how many students choose not to return to church after they turn 18. This should give us an even higher sense of urgency and motivation to reach the teenagers in our congregations. So, as you’re preparing messages with teenagers in the audience, consider these few tips.
- Be authentic and real.
Nothing will turn a teenager off faster than someone trying too hard to be cool or act younger than they are. They can sense the ingenuity from a mile away. So just be yourself. They’re not expecting you to be exactly like them because they know you’re not a teenager anymore. Your only job is to be who you really are and communicate the best way you know how. You’ll gain much more respect from them if you do that instead of trying to be “hip.”
- Stay on track.
Teenagers have a longer attention span than we give them credit for, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to stay dialed in to just any 30-40 minute message. You have to keep them engaged and get to the point of what you’re saying. If you spend too much time rambling or wandering down rabbit trails, you’re going to lose their attention. Therefore, do everything you can to stay focused and on the topic to keep the message moving and stay focused on hitting your points clearly and efficiently.
- Tell stories.
Not only are stories interesting and engaging, but they are also memorable and relatable. These are all good characteristics of communication to incorporate as you’re preaching, especially when you have teenagers on the listening end of your message. These don’t have to always be super long or super detailed stories. They can vary in length and intricacy, but they can be great tools to include in order to drive home a point, introduce your topic, or close out your message.
- Be humorous.
The best communicators know how to incorporate humor with their content, so if you can keep your congregation laughing, you’re in a good place. Again, just like we talked about with telling stories, you don’t have to tell a five-minute joke in every sermon. You could just include a sarcastic comment here or a one-liner there. Any teenager is going to appreciate the effort you put into using humor in your sermon, and it’s going to keep their attention locked in as you continue to share your message with them.