Flash back 6 years and I am in my first full time pastorate.  I have laid out a plan for my youth ministry that is going to use these cool new videos called nooma.  I am excited because there was 10-15 of them, and I thought that I had 10-15 weeks of teaching laid out.

We hit the fall and things were going well.  Teens were coming out, and the nooma videos were a hit.  I felt like I was the best youth pastor in the world. Find the right resources, and youth ministry was as simple as plug and play.  Quickly the videos started to lose their novelty.  I started to get some criticism.  I didn’t know why these teens, and their parents weren’t thrilled that they had the best speaker in the world communicating to them(Rob Bell, Francis Chan).

During this hard time I realized that students need to hear me, over the “pros”.  They want to hear my hear for God, and they are counting on me to teach them about God through his Word.  This time was humbling, and discouraging as I learned how to find my voice in the midst of running a youth ministry.

Here are a few things I learned:

1. Be patient.  You will not become the best preacher over night.  I have heard Mark Driscoll once say that it took the average preacher 54 sundays until he was comfortable preaching.  You will not become the next Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, or Tim Keller overnight.  It will take years, if not decades to get this preaching thing down.  We have lots to learn.

2. Be you.  Have you ever preached someone else’s sermon?  I downloaded a youth talk from simply youth ministry which is a great resource, but I never modified it(I still use simply for resources…great site!).  I preached it in my youth ministry and felt so fake, and gross after.  I knew it wasn’t me, and you know what the teens did too.  It took years to be comfortable in my own skin as a pastor.  Whenever I feel like I am not enough, I always read over Psalm 139.  I am wonderfully and uniquely made.  That is enough.  Don’t be someone else.  That is phoney, and fake.  Be you.  The students that you work with want to know, and be known by you!

3. Be bold.  What are you holding back?  Are you worried if the students you work with will like you?  I think we need to be bold today and preach the Gospel.  Our students need to hear the Gospel, over and over again.  I am sometimes timid when it comes to saying something difficult.  In those times I need to spend more time on my knees praying before I end up in front of teens preaching.

I hope that you will be patient, because developing takes time.  I hope that you will be you, because that is who your church hired.  And I hope that you will be bold, because those student you work with need to hear the truth.   

  • Michael Rome

    Thank you! I have been at my church for a year now and it has been an adjustment from the camping ministry that I am used to. I had spent 7 years in various roles in camp settings and really had figured out my voice and style. Then when coming into this role I couldn’t figure out why the youth didn’t have the same connections that my campers and camp staff had with me. I realized that I had changed my style in this new environment and was struggling with my voice. A few weeks ago I realized that I had been teaching from a chair. Something I never used at camp. So I got rid of it, rearranged the room, and got my voice back, which is mostly in my hand and body language as I move around the room. This post was a refreshing read to know that others have been there.

    • Thanks Michael for the comment. I think the biggest thing is that you need to be you. Don’t try to be like anyone else. I think that every preacher has gone through this. I have heard that it takes a preacher 52 weeks or 52 hours to feel comfortable preaching. You are never alone. Thank for stopping by.

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