A few years ago I was at a Together For the Gospel event, Philip Jensen an 80 year old Anglican Minister was being interviewed by Mark Dever and Mark asked him about a message he preached twenty years earlier. Philip gave these three timeless pillars of ministry to high school and college-age kids. I have thought about these often since hearing him share these truths.
- You never get past square one – The students are always 18 you always have to be 18 in your preaching. This is not saying your understanding of scripture must stay at age 18 it is saying you must continue to grow in your understanding of scripture and of faith and of the doctrines of the church but you must never grow beyond your ability to know how to articulate those truths to 18-year-olds.
- Treat the ones who are Christians as if they are not – Preach repentance and forgiveness of sins not just forgiveness of sins. Young people need to have a conversion experience and they need assurance of salvation. The charitable assumption is the kids who you are preaching to are not Christians if you assume they are you will not preach the gospel to them. If you preach the gospel to them and they are not saved you will rescue them from hell. If they are already saved they will hear what you have to say and rejoice.
- Teach them predestination – Those who are involved in student ministry you need to be an expert on sovereignty and sex. God’s sovereignty is the conversion doctrine in one sense. It’s the moment where you go through that Copernican revolution where instead of you being the center of the universe and God going around you, suddenly God is the center of the universe and you are here for him. That’s the big turn over in their thinking and once you get that turnover then all the other things make sense, but as long as you have you in the center you will never have the world in focus properly.
I wholeheartedly agree with each of these if I could add one more it would be this:
- Commit to expository preaching. – Youth ministry like few other ministries in the church is dominated by felt needs and relevance. So we preach to our kids rather than through the word. Does this mean you start in Genesis and preach chapter by chapter till you get fired or leave? No, although that might not be a bad idea. When I say expository preaching I mean open a passage of scripture and walk your kids through the text so they will not just be impressed with your delivery but they will have a more firm grasp on scripture and will have a greater grasp and understanding of scripture because you are walking them through what the Bible says about the Bible and not just a weekly exposition of the hotness of your wife with a bible verse attached.
Youth pastor 1. Never lose sight of whom you are preaching to. 2. Preach about Repentance and forgiveness of sin, not just forgiveness. 3. Teach your kids to see the sovereignty of God that is all over the Bible that they will come to see God as the center of the universe and not themselves. 4. Preach faithfully through the scripture don’t pick verses that fit your thoughts faithfully week in and week out be diligent to help your kids hear God’s thoughts as revealed in scripture.