I remember being at a weekend conference for student ministries and hearing the dynamic speakers chosen to preach. I was amazed that both speakers preached two different sermons, but their sermons were both so much alike. They both introduced their sermon with the topic they thought the text hit on. One preached on frustration and the other on gratitude. The way they introduced their sermon was by going into a comedy monologue by telling a life story that had to do with their topic. Then they talked about the importance and life impact of their topic. Then they went to a passage of Scripture that addressed the biblical issues that go along with that topic. Then they closed their sermon with a challenge on how to live that topic for Christ.
To be honest with you, I think they both were good sermons. I think they both honored God and the Word of God very well. But I came home with many questions and even some confusion. Is this how God intends His Word to be preached? Is the Bible merely a spiritual self-help book that is written in the form of addressing many different topics and issues of our day? Is it just a book on morality? Do our sermons and lessons to students need to be heavy on application to their lives?
Personally, I think the primary thought we should have when preparing to preach/teach to teenagers is…JESUS CHRIST! I believe that we must leave them with the knowledge of the person and work of Christ each and every time…otherwise we are merely moralistic student ministers rather than Christian communicators! The question is, do we only want our students to only “do what Christians do” (RELIGION) or do we want our students to “do what Christians do” for the glory of Christ? That’s the difference!
You may be wondering if I’m saying that application within preaching is wrong. I’m definitely not saying that! I strongly believe that we should not make the jump from the text straight to life application…which is what we normally hear in preaching today. Rather, I think that we should preach the text, point the text to Christ, and then apply to the text to our audience. If we’re not preaching Christ…then we are missing the point of God in every text. If we’re not offering application, then we’re leaving our students in the dark when it comes to living the text through the example and power of Christ.
So here’s how I love to look at every text… What is the original author saying? How does the Divine Author (Holy Spirit) point that text to Christ in other biblical texts? And then how can we teach our students to live out that text in their normal, daily lives? If you’re not sure if we really should point every text to Jesus, if God’s point really is Jesus, and if our preaching should always be centralized on Jesus Christ…then here are some verses you can study for yourself to see if what I’m saying is biblical or not (at the top). My prayer is that Jesus Christ is the center, goal, point, and aim of how we preach/teach to teens.