So how do you pick the title for a youth group sermon series? Great question! And while I suppose there are lots of ways to go about it – and I hope some others chime in on the comments with a few other suggestions – I thought I would walk you through some of the ways I go about picking the title for a youth group series:

Brainstorm with studentsA great way to pick a title is to gather up a few students or volunteers and walk them through the topic and come up with a list of potential titles. Make sure no one is “married” to their ideas, then land on one later that week. It gives students some buy into the process and also helps you brand it well.

Find inspiration in culture
One of my favorite examples of this was during the Women’s World Cup a couple years ago – I loved the subtitle they used “11 vs the World” and immediately planned a sermon series on the disciples around that idea. The series 11 vs the World in our youth group was a really fun one that was named really well, too (sorry Judas and even more apologies to Mathias the replacement disciple as well).

yhst-95977426524948_2239_10950023Tie it into the teaching
So sometimes the title starts the development process of the series – other times I wait and see where I want to take students and find the title as I prep the messages. I did a series a couple years ago about stewardship and the environment we ended up calling Save the Planet and let the teaching help us land on the right title.

Steal the title … or buy the resource and teach someone else’s series
If you see a great resource out there, borrow the title and adapt it yourself! You could also just buy the resource and use the ready-made graphics and outlines as well. Here’s 25 ideas to get you started, and 31 more when you’re through those!

How do you find the perfect series title!


Hey everyone from NYWC 2011!

Thanks for making our youth ministry workshop so fun this weekend — I enjoyed meeting many of you and here are the links from Every 7 Minutes: Keeping Students Engaged During Your Talk workshops I promised you today:


One of our amazing summer interns took some super cool photos during the finale to last week’s 11 vs. the World series (read about the whole weekend here). This was part of the candle illustration to show how Jesus is the Light of the World and how the Good News spread quickly from person to person.


Weekend Teaching Series: 11 vs. the World (week 3 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: Be salt, be light, and take communion to remind ourselves of the great gift of God and eternal life through Him.
Service Length: 72 minutes

Understandable Message:The message this weekend centered around 2 specific stories of Jesus and the disciples. For the end of the series and the weekend coming right out of summer camp I wanted to challenge students to take their experience, commitments and life change back home and to their families, friends and the world. I first taught Matthew 5′s challenge to be salt and light, with a candle illustration that went through a section of the crowd. Then we transitioned to the story of the Last Supper and talked through communion and how it was a reminder to the disciples for the rest of their lives of what Jesus did and a re-commitment to His challenge to share the Good News.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend coming off of camp is an important one! We played the HSM Summer Camp highlight video, had great music inclding a STOMP-style version of the song “Go” and a simple message with a couple of interactive live elements. Solid finish to camp and the launch of summer events.

Music Playlist: Go, Divine and Holy, One Thing Remains, Your Love is Enough, With Everything

Favorite Moment: After the 6:30pm Saturday service we invited up all of our students and leaders attending the Costa Rica mission trips, the first of which leaves in 10 days. They are awesome students and I’m so proud of them! They were a great living example of sharing God’s light all over the world and it was super cool to pray with and for them.

Up Next: Philippians (series premiere, week 1 of 4)

This weekend I talked about how the disciples changed the world – I wanted to illustrate how people are trying to change the world every day with their inventions on the show Shark Tank. I used this clip (above) of a guy trying to change the world … one candle at a time.

Then I played the hilarious “Mandles” classic video from Got to have a little fun in your youth talk, right?


Weekend Teaching Series: 11 vs. the World (week 2 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: The disciples took the message of Jesus Christ to the world – their mission is our mission, too.
Service Length: 69 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we continued looking at the disciples – this time we continued through their mission work and eventual martyrdom. We started by recapping last week and moving into where each of them historically traveled to spread the Gospel. On the screen we had an animated map that showed the approximate path of each disciple. In the end it looked like spaghetti on their outline, so I encouraged them to think about the surrender and dedication more than anything else. One man, Jesus Christ, truly changed the world, and his 11 messengers (and eventually hundreds, thousands and millions of people later) spread it like wildfire. The end of the talk I went after “giving their all” and talked quickly through the martyrdom of the disciples/apostles and how it is a powerful evidence of a) their dedication and b) the validity of the resurrection. Heavy stuff for a typical weekend, but really, really an epic series. Loving this one.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: We played a game of “Who Wants to Be a Fraction of a Millionaire: Summer Edition” with silly pool prizes for contestants who got the questions correct on stage. The game was fun, and helped tame the summertime energy in the room. Student band, student greeters, and students on cameras/lights/sound/control room.

Music Playlist: Waiting on the World to Change, We Shine, I Need You More, To the Ends of the Earth

Favorite Moment: My favorite moment this weekend was replacing the map of the world showing where the disciples went with a Google map of our area. For me it was the punch of the talk – the disciples’ mission is our mission, now go a spread the Good News.

Up Next: 11 vs. the World (series finale, week 3 of 3)

Weekend Teaching Series: 11 vs. the World (series premiere, week 1 of 3)
Sermon in a Sentence: The disciples were ordinary with varied personalities but called by God to bring the Good News to the world.
Service Length: 71 minutes

Understandable Message: This weekend we kicked off a new series about the disciples called 11 vs. the World. It was a short prep week because of our annual staff retreat, but I had the idea of using the GLO Bible app on the iPad to help teach the lesson from a very visual and historical perspective, as well as turn the corner for application and practical challenges for this week. It was a big departure, but I think it worked well. I opened up talking about great teams, and talked about the unlikely team that Jesus put together to spread the Good News to the World. We spent a little time on each of the disciples individually, and ended with the Great Commission as Jesus was setting them up to go on without Him.

Element of Fun/Positive Environment: This weekend (to help celebrate the 4th of July) we played “Know Your America” with Uncle Hayward (one of our summer interns) and had some fun USA trivia for an iTunes card. Even on a down holiday weekend we had good student involvement.

Music Playlist: The Time Has Come, Forever Reign, Burning Ones, Tell the World

Favorite Moment:Using the GLO Bible iPad app this week to teach was really fun – and aside from it crashing once and me having to furiously rebuild a presentation, it was absolutely incredible. First, because I love technology and the geek inside of me loved it, and second because it is fun to present the Bible in a new way to High School students. Cool stuff, I’ll try to share more on that later this week.

Up Next: 11 vs. the World (week 2 of 3)

An epic series video from HSM to open up our 11 vs. the World series on the disciples. Probably my favorite one so far!