We’re on the front end of revamping our student leadership program in HSM … for the 3rd time in as many years, I think. How’s yours doing? Leave a vote in this week’s poll!


My first time preaching was like hanging out with death. I was absolutely scared. After it was all said and done, I preached for about 55 minutes! My original target was 20 minutes. I was all over the place. Not only did I speak FOREVER (I was 17), but I came around my small church and SAT down on the communion table. At the time, the communion table was in the center of the worship center (what we call the Sanctuary in East Tennessee). I walked in front of it and plopped down with legs swinging. I’ll never forget the gasp coming from the congregation that night and nearly killing that one old lady in the back. Ok, I didn’t almostkill anyone, but I might as well have.

As leaders, it’s our job and joy to find future leaders and invest into them. As a pastor, sometimes I’ll have a guy come up to me and explain how he wants to preach a message. What we do next shows how we truly approach discipleship. For me, that was meeting with the youth pastor once and giving him my rough outline. He left the topic up to me. I had no idea what I wanted to preach on much less how write a sermon. Looking back, I believe that he offered the best advice that he could, but I can’t help but think that as pastors we need to be more intentional.

For those students that do approach us, we should give them the opportunity to preach. We cannot stop there–that lets us off the hook.

As intentional leaders, we must search for new preachers/leaders.

More times than not, I will approach a student and ask them to preach. They typically freak out and say no. I’ll then use that opportunity to tell them that I’ve been observing them and believe that God could use them proclaim his goodness. I promise that I’ll be there every step of the way. I won’t leave them alone and they won’t look stupid.

Here is my process for teaching a student how to preach. It’s not the gospel of preaching, but it’s been very effective at training young men to preach.

1. Set up a meeting
Please meet with your student preacher. Nothing says, “I don’t really care about you” than scheduling someone to preach and then communicating everything over email/text. Schedule a time to meet with them. I promise it’ll help them! It’ll also give you an idea of where they are at in the process.

2. Give them a topic
As a kid, I hated selecting topics. How on earth did I know what I was going to preach on? Even though I’ve had students approach me with a topic they want to preach about, I’ll typically tell them no for their first message. Why do I do that? I want to get their agenda out of the way and teach them that preaching is more than about picking a topic you want to rant on. What I find helpful is to pick a topic in advance. I’ll typically pick something that already fits in with our scheduled teaching calendar. This will stretch them because they’ll have to prepare and throw out everything they were wanting to “tell everyone about.” Do them a favor…give them a topic!

3. Help them research
The worst thing that we can do in training potential pastors is give them a topic and then expect them to do all the work. Sit down with your student and teach them how to research. Go over how you prepare for a message and then show them the websites you visit. I useLogos Bible Software, so I’ll typically print a package of material for them on their topic.

4. Give them the opportunity to sketch a rough outline
Allow them to formulate an outline and then go back over that with them. I never give a student, who’s just starting to preach, the option to form the sermon in a vacuum.

5. Meet with them again
At this meeting, you need to see a copy of their message. I would suggest not teaching them to manuscript. From my experience, students who manuscript a message will READ it instead of preach. Have them show you their final outline and write out any statements that they are going to make that are doctrine related or controversial. It’s important for you to “vet” their message.

6. Practice the message
This is the biggest single key in successfully teaching a student how to preach. The Friday before a message, I’ll reserve our student center for the student, me, and our preaching interns. I set the stage, lights, and sound exactly the way it’ll be Sunday morning/night. I want them to see the environment that they’ll be preaching in. I also wire them up with the microphone. I want the student to be as comfortable as possible when they actually preach. I want their minds to be clear of everything except their message. We practice coming up on stage (even bringing their stand up, holding their Bible, reading Scripture, etc), the introduction, the entire message, and the conclusion. It’s our time to break down the message and to see what works. Like I said before, this is when students learn not to read a manuscript, but preach a message.

I also use this time to find their “thing.” I believe that each person has a specific thing that they do. Most of the time, we’re not aware of it. Practicing the message in a “live” format always reveals the quirk. I’ve had students who drag one leg while walking, jump up and down as their preach, speak in the “preacher voice,” have Ricky Bobby hands, etc. I don’t make fun of them, but I will reenact what they are doing to show them. Sometimes I’ll even record their quirk on my iPhone and then play the message. Doing all of this keeps them from looking like a newb. I promise, they’ll love you for this. Do everything in love.

7. Pray. Pray. Pray with them!
Lay hands on them. Pray with them.

8. Take a picture for memory
Mom and dad will want a memory so take a good “action” shot. I always post it on Facebook so everyone can tell them that they are proud.

9. Schedule a follow-up meeting
It’s easy to forget this last step, but it’s important to their learning process. Go over ways they can communicate better, use hand gestures better, etc. Whatever you do… encourage them!

By the age of 30, Nick has served as a missionary, creative arts director, student pastor, graphic design, and photographer. I’m married to an amazing woman and have one daughter. I’ve never looked back since my first mac and am a closet Star Trek fan. He regularly blogs at http://www.everythingpastor.com

6 Worries of a Youth Worker

Josh Griffin —  September 14, 2011 — 3 Comments

Doug Franklin, LeaderTreks student leadership guru, wrote an amazing article about the 6 Worries of a Youth Worker. Here are the first three – head there for the rest. I resonated with them ALL (if not now in some point in my youth ministry career)! How about you?

6. Worried about numbers
The number one question youth workers answer most is, “How many students were at youth group this week?” If that is the questions it’s no wonder youth workers are worried about numbers.

5. Worried about pay
Youth workers don’t often make enough money and they are worried that they might have to change jobs or leave the ministry due to lack of funds. The money issues put pressure on their marriage. It also causes them to distrust church leaders and leads to conflict between them and the pastor.

4. Worried about fraud
I talk with youth workers all the time that have no idea on how to do their jobs. They didn’t get any training before they started and no one is mentoring them now. They are scared to death that the parents and the pastors are going to figure they don’t have any idea on how to help students in their faith. They were hired because students like them, not because they knew how to lead students, volunteers, parents and the church in youth ministry.


Here’s the highlight video from this year’s Student Leadership Conference up at Azusa Pacific University. Couple things – 1) one of our students [David] made it – talk about student leadership, right? 2) hope you can make it next year, and 3) hey Doug, I posted this on my blog first! Hahahahah …


Shell Eastman is one of HSM’s graduating seniors who deals with Cerebral Palsy that causes her to limp significantly. She talked during our Senior Weekend how her disability and suffering helped her to see and begin to understand God’s love. Enjoy the clip – good, good stuff. SO proud of her.


I posted last week about the new LIVE curriculum add-ons and the gang over at Simply Youth Ministry gave me a copy of each to giveaway. Here’s the sweet part, if you have the original LIVE curriculum already, you get the add ons for free if you win. If you don’t yet have LIVE and you win, you get both the LIVE Curriculum ($499) and the add-ons as well ($249 each). Up for it? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and you could win! Do it!



If you’ve already got the LIVE curriculum for your youth ministry small groups, here’s a sweet new batch of add-on packs you might want to consider for the 2011-2012 small group year. You can choose from LIVE Leadership or LIVE Book Studies. We’re adding both into HSM next year, I’m excited for you to check them out, too! If you’ve never considered LIVE, check it out here. It’s what we use in our high school ministry (and junior high, too) small groups and are super excited about it as we head into year 2.


Before I was a Youth Pastor, I was a volunteer in the same ministry I work in now for a decade, loving and serving High School students week in and week out and pouring myself into them and trying to point them to Christ. It was a passion, to see them grow in their Faith and grow as people, learning to be in the world and live a life for Christ. It took time and effort to be a part of, but it was life giving, and having the opportunity to see God moving in my small group was a privilege.

The Bar has always been set pretty high in our ministry when it comes to expectations of our team but I am sensing that it is time to consider how to raise the bar again to a level that I think is unapologetically high, but attainable, and it all starts at the top.

Don’t ask for more than you would give: In the first 7 years of being a volunteer at our Church I missed Youth 3 times, which I recognize is extreme. But the reality is that if I am going to ask my team to prioritize their week around investing their time at our program week after week, its important that I am able to model the high standard that I ask of them.

Volunteer like they do: Youth time is not work time. I ask our volunteers to give up 6 hours of their week including our weekly program and connecting with their students mid-week. If I am going to ask them to give up their free time to serve our students, I am willing to do the same and don’t count our youth night as paid time but as volunteer and shows that you value their time as you do your own.

Students deserve the best: Warm bodies are filler at best, but as the spiritual leaders of our flock, they deserve the best volunteers you can find to lead small groups, worship and any other event. They need Christ focused adults who model a healthy spiritual life and spur them on to do the same and our time with these students is too short to settle for less than the best. Allowing people to serve half heartedly can’t not only be discouraging to other leaders, but detrimental to their students when your committed leaders are constantly filling in the gaps each week. Recruit and train the best leaders you can find.

Make Time For Leaders: If we ask our team to connect with their students during the week, then I need to make time to connect with our leaders. Whether it’s a coffee or a McDonalds breakfast, face-to-face connection, encouragement and discussion goes a long way to keeping your team engaged.

God honours commitment: I truly believe that God honours commitment, and that we can and should ask our volunteers to be 100% in, that their Yes be their Yes. There is nothing more disappointing than a small group leader fizzling out half way through the year, but outlining and modeling the expectations will go a long way to building a culture of longevity in ministry. Longevity encourages longevity and some of the most fruitful youth ministries I have seen have been lead by Pastors invested long-term in the lives of students.

Geoff Stewart is the Pastor of Jr & Sr High School for Journey Student Ministries at Peace Portal Alliance Church and regularly contributes GUEST POSTS to MTDB. Be sure to check out his Twitter stream for awesome ministry goodness. Want to get in on the fun and write up a guest post yourself? See how right here.