Question: How Do I Know What To Preach?

Anonymous asked:

Hi pastor! Next month is devotion month at my church, but the problem is I have no idea what to do. Maybe the problem is that I want to do some kind of devotion where it will change me… so I guess in a selfish kind of way. But I really just want to glorify God and somehow be a testimony to the youth in my church. If the Lord wills it that is. Thank you once again and hope you can stir up some ideas or something!


Hey that’s so awesome, my friend.  I’m sure no matter what you share, as long as it’s of your own conviction by the Spirit: it will be a huge blessing.  So hey, your idea about a devotion to change you is a totally legit way to go.  Double high-five on that, and it’s not selfish at all.

You know, I think this is one of those things where if I say too much, it might change your entire message and you’ll simply just be listening to my “do’s” and “don’ts.” So you really don’t have to read beyond this point, especially if you think you’ll be too influenced into conforming.

I’m not an expert on any of this.  I had a 19 year old college student share his personal convictions with my youth group last week, and wow, we were blown away.  I was nodding along and saying “amen” every few minutes.  And since I personally knew him, I knew he wasn’t faking it.  He was only sharing what was true to his heart from the reality of God’s Word.  So I’m very glad that I didn’t coach him on how to speak, or it would’ve been way worse.


If you’re still with me: I will say though that the worst way you can go is sharing something that sounds cool but is NOT a part of your own spiritual walk. 

It’s not that we need to be perfect, but we would never want to share anything that we’re not at least personally affected by first.  There’s also a danger of getting into dry exegesis-history-lesson mode and start telling some obscure Greek/Jewish thing that no one cares about (or cares too much about).  I am no longer impressed by those kinds of sermons or devotions.  If that’s your thing, then sweet.  Go for it.  So long as you’re not forcing anything just to sound smart.  As for me, it’s much better when someone pulls back on the exposition a bit to tell us how God is moving today. 

Now if you’re super-stuck and really lost on all this, here are seven practical things to consider if you’re going to share a message.  It’s meant for the casual person who is not a pastor or seminarian.  If you’re a pastor, I highly recommend Stephen Rummage’s Planning Your Preaching.  This book has saved my butt, and I now plan my preaching schedules about a year in advance. 

Lastly: please please please do not rant.  Please no guilt trips.  I really don’t think you’ll do this because you sound like a pleasant person.  But when we start hearing about how the youth group is doing this or that, our temptation is to go moralistic and talk about the evil of drugs and alcohol and cow-tipping.  There’s a time to speak wisely about those things, but not without gaining their trust first.

Much love to you, my friend.  Let me know how it goes, if you want!

— J.S.

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