We’ve been doing a sermon series in the youth ministry this month entitled You Pick. It’s obviously a spin on You Tube in which the students voted on sermon topics. All the sermons for the four weeks of November are the four most popular topics. We used our interns to determine the 20 nominees for our topics and then had each student write at least one topic on a card during the service before You Pick started. Our top four topics were as follows:
4. Self Image – this one was a fun one because I found some ways to spin it so they weren’t hearing what they always hear about how they are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
3. Peer Pressure – this one was surprising, I thought “Surely this one won’t get many votes, it’s so cliche.” But obviously they wanted to hear about it so God gave me a word about it that was a bit different. Instead of resisting peer pressure I encouraged them to choose their peers a bit differently.
2. God’s Plan vs. Free Will – Whoa! This one was a doosey. I remember being in youth group hating when the Pastor would talk about God’s will for my life. It always sounded like the last thing I wanted. Not like something I was created for. So, I prayed and prayed and God showed me a story in Acts Chapter 5 to use as an illustration of doing God’s will vs your own. It ended up pretty cool.
1. Putting God 1st – I know, I was as surprised as you! I feel like we preach on this topic every single service but the teens in our ministry are still wanting to hear more. This is the final message and hasn’t been done yet but I’m praying I’ll find some new and improved way to share this with them so it sticks. We’ll see!
I shared all this with you to say that I have learned something about youth ministry through this series. I learned that what we heard as teenagers doesn’t work with this generation of youth. These topics are things that were thought up by teenage interns and then voted on by our entire group on a wednesday night service. These aren’t kids who never hear a sermon or get advice from youth pastors on how to live for God. These were church kids asking us to preach about the things that seem to be on our youth ministry radar year in and year out.
I always say that youth ministry is a cycle. Every year we preach on the same things a few times. Missions during a couple months, sex and relationships in February for obvious reasons, and we’ll cover everything from peer pressure to God’s plan in between that other stuff. How is it that this cycle is never ending? Are we sharing the same things over and over with them because they are too thick headed to hear it or is it possible that the delivery is all wrong?
Listen, I don’t have all the answers I’m just saying that the voting on these sermon topics was very revealing to me. It showed me that if I want to get out of the rut or the pattern of preaching the same things all of the time I need to ask God to show me how to share them with students in a way that changes them. Not just for a few days until the next service but for life so we can do as Paul said and move forward from the “milk” of babies to some “food” grown Christians should be eating.
What are your thoughts on these topics? Do you remember your youth pastor preaching on any of them? If so, what was their message? Do you have any creative ideas or ways that you have shared on these topics? If so, PLEASE share them in the comment section below. Let’s start a conversation here and see what we can do to get through to the students of our ministries.
Author: Michael Prince
Michael Prince co-authored “What’s in Your Pocket? A parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” with his wife Melinda. They have four kids and live in an RV anywhere in the USA they see the need for an internet safety expert. Michael is leading the conversation in the American Church about family online security. He and Melinda founded BecauseFamily, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip parents to be the first influence in the lives of their children, in 2013. Michael is also a geek and loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and strategy board games.