I have preached a lot of sermons and heard even more in my life in the church and each time as I prepare, my hope is that each time I prepare, that some part of what I am teaching would go from head knowledge to heart and God would speak through my teaching and He would transform lives as a result.
This unfortunately is not always that case and sometimes those well-prepped and researched talks fall on arid and crumbly soil. While this can be really discouraging, what amazes me is the fact that while sermons can often be forgotten or tuned out, there is something powerful and disarming about a student or leader sharing their testimony. Make them part of you youth program and here’s why:
Stories are personal and real: What I love about testimonies is that they are a story that isn’t over, they are in process and there is something exciting about that. For students to hear where their friends are really at, what they have struggled with, been through and experienced and how God has been faithful through all of it, they hear that. Students crave authenticity and can smell disingenuous people a mile away; testimonies are a window into the inner workings or someone’s very personal Christian walk.
Stories are hard to refute: When I am talking to my non-Christian friends or skeptical students, they often have well-rehearsed arguments about why God can’t exist and have opinions on the validity of the Bible. They can refute God to certain extent, but cannot deny what He has done in someone’s life. Tangible encounters with God, sudden and dramatic heart change, miraculous healing, freedom from sin. All of these are part of student’s story, and those are hard to argue against.
Stories bring the Bible to life: For students who are new in their faith or just seeking, the Bible is a not a book that they know well or at all. So when we teach from it, it’s not always easy for them to understand how the Bible can actually impact and affect their life. But when you hear students sharing stories about their life verses and how God used a certain scripture to transform their heart and life. Stories bring the Bible to life for other students.