When I was 16 years old, I had my first opportunity to preach in a church service. I was nervous as could be. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.
For some strange reason, my youth pastor felt it was worthwhile to put me in front of an auditorium full of people and be the main speaker for Youth Sunday. The rest, as they say, is history.
Equipping our students to become preachers of the Word not only impacts their future in ministry, but also can be a great encouragement to their peers, the youth group and the church as a whole. Most of Jesus’ disciples were teenagers. He believed they could do the work of ministry, and so should we.
How do we go about equipping our students to do this facet of the work of ministry?
1. Look for those who may have a calling to full-time ministry. Guard against just investing in the popular students or those who are in student government at school. Passion for Jesus trumps popularity every time. Plus, you would be surprised how many “diamonds in the rough” are in your church waiting to be discovered. I happened to be the geeky-nerd-hyperactive kid. Pray and ask God to open your eyes to see those students whom you could potentially invite to preach.
2. Invest in them relationally. Before you just throw them behind a pulpit, spend some time letting them see your heart and passion for Jesus and helping them continue to grow in theirs. Maybe lead a small group Bible study with all the “potential candidates.”
3. Stick with them during each step of the preparation process. As the student begins to prepare a message to share with your youth group or church, be sure to stay alongside them through each step of the process. This is a crucial part of their equipping. The last thing you want to do is just throw them in the deep end and see if they can swim.
4. Celebrate with them after their message. Take time afterward to not only review how they did, but also to celebrate what God did through them. Students typically need extra affirmation and encouragement—especially after getting up in front of people and communicating the Word of God.
As with any mentoring and equipping that you do with students, remember the age-old equipping process:
Practical tip: Attempt to schedule your students to take the lead in speaking/teaching/preaching in your youth group or church at least one series per calendar year. This could be in the form of a Youth Sunday or a “You Own the Weekend” series annually.
Matt Maiberger has been involved in full-time student ministry for over 16 years. He and his family are currently in the process of moving to Fort Collins, Colo., where he has been named the associate pastor of Life Church. Matt is also the founder of Youth Speaker’s Coach, which is committed to the resourcing of youth pastors, youth workers and youth speakers to help them become better communicators for the postmodern students represented in youth ministries today.
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