When I got the privilege of writing this I thought “Sweet! Can’t wait… hope it’s not on teaching.” Dead serious. Then I got the topic. Holy goodness. Some of us are gifted at the whole preaching/teaching gig… others of us just survive this part of the job. I am a survivor.

I love youth ministry but I’ve always said that God has a real sense of humor. Why else would I be a Youth Pastor? I struggle every time I have to write original material, and it’s people like me who keep Group Publishing in business (or at minimum, access search engines to find material). It’s also why our youth ministry is small group based. I learned from the beginning, play to your strengths & find people who LOVE to fill those weak spots. From the get-go, I knew I wasn’t gifted in teaching and when it did go well, the Holy Spirit seriously showed up.

Need advice, prayer, encouragement?

I don’t even like being up in front of large crowds, go figure cause that’s kinda part of the job. Just a few weeks ago I had a panic attack during BOTH services over a two minute announcement. Like I said, God’s got a sense of humor. But regardless of our abilities, we are doing & being who God has called us to be. The way we get there & tools we use can vary.

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If you are like me, consider this your official permission to go out & find material to tweak. You are still a great youth pastor & still following Him even if you struggle with writing. Please know that you are not a failure if this area is a challenge to you.

You mean I have to?

What do you do though when you simply have to teach & writing a message is required? The whole three point thing is nice. And it works for some. But what I’ve found works for me is starting with personal stories or illustrations from history or sports etc. Stories have the ability to captivate and teach. They are relatable and show that you aren’t just talking theory here, you lived it (or at minimum know someone who’s Uncle Barnabus was talking with his cousin Loraine who heard it from her boyfriend who read it…).

It can be as simple as obedience or following directions and a cooking catastrophe (yum… burnt cookies). Or it could be death where you share losing a friend. Stories run the gamut. They can fit in most situations.

When I first started in youth ministry (& to this day) the hardest part for me about writing a message is, well, the writing part. Getting myself into the lesson, emotionally tied and ready to teach is a challenge for me. What I discovered is that since stories are personal they are much easier for me as the teacher to communicate a point because I am invested.

Jesus did it

Plus, the more I look at it, the more I see Christ. He taught through the use of story. Relatable, understandable and rememberable… if that’s a word. Flip through the Gospels and there is Jesus teaching through story, what a great way to lead if we too taught like Jesus, through story!

Need advice, prayer, encouragement?

Earlier in the week Kurt mentioned finding a process that works for each person. I tend to go the route of:
1. Personal story
2. Tie to teachable moment – the lesson you can learn
3. Bible verse
4. Application question – directed at the student, can be reflective or action oriented
5. Peace out home slice!!

It’s simple. And let’s face it. Our goal isn’t to write a thesis, it’s to be building relationships and making an eternal impact in these student’s lives.

Share some of the best places you have found stories or illustrations!

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