Preaching God's Word in Youth Ministry

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Pastors called to shepherd God’s people will be marked with a passion to study and to share the Word of God with others. Pastoral ministry centers on the Word of God. The apostles, who were the church’s first pastors, summarized their ministry as one of prayer and preaching the Word (Acts 6:2, 4). Teaching the Word was so closely connected with being a pastor that these two roles are presented as one with pastor-teachers (Eph 4:11). Paul described preaching the Word of God as a charge to be undertaken before God Himself to be carried out at all times with patience and persistence (2 Tim 4:2). Preaching is presented as the leading responsibility of the pastor, who strives to be both a man of God and a man of the Word.

The main content of preaching is the Word of God: inspired, inerrant, infallible, authoritative, one hundred percent true and vital for spiritual growth and maturity. Biblical truth is the nourishment for starving souls: as important as food is for the body, so our spiritual lives are dependent on the regular intake of the Word (Deut 8:3). Constant meditation on God’s Word results in abundant joy and growth and even prosperity and success if God wills (Ps 1:1-3). God’s Word is described as perfect, certain, right, pure, clean, and true, giving the benefits of wisdom of the mind, joy of the heart, revival of the soul, practical righteousness in life, and enlightening of the eyes to understand more truth (Ps 19:7-9). The Bible is the means God uses to grow people in faith and holiness, as Jesus Himself said: “Sanctify them in the truth; your Word is truth” (John 17:17).

These verses help clarify my pastoral role in ministering to the youth and the best use of youth group time, events, and special meetings. The main ministry of the church as a whole and of youth group specifically is the diligent teaching and preaching of the Word of God. The expounding of the Bible provides the truth that edifies and matures young or new believers into Christian adulthood. Commitment to expositional teaching instructs on the authority of the Bible, theology, how the Bible is to be interpreted and applied, and the teachings of Christ which will cultivate devoted, committed, and mature Christ followers.

The method for expounding the Word of God to the youth is expository preaching and teaching. Expository preaching is the clear and accurate explanatory proclamation of the Word of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit, through the Christian man of God acting as His herald, with the aim of inducing understanding, obedience, salvation, sanctification, and true worship of God among hearers.

Expository preaching is expositional in that it strives to explain, make clear, make plain, and elucidate the meaning of the biblical text and set forth its main message and points organized following the content and structure found in the text in a highly understandable and memorable way. Preaching is the public proclamation, declaration, communication, and conveyance of God’s Word in a dynamic, engaging, and persuasive manner through the man of God who has first personally applied it and then is appointed to act as a mouthpiece for God’s message expressed in the biblical text. (See Neh 8:8; Acts 2:14-40; 6:4; 10:42; Rom 10:15; 1 Cor 2:1-5; Eph 4:11-16; Col 1:28; 1 Tim 3:16-17; 4:2)

What is the best way to convey God’s Word to the youth in the church? Preaching and teaching the Bible to the youth has its special challenges, and yet it also has is special opportunities. As youth pastor, I first and foremost want to teach and to preach the Bible with great clarity by having clear points to outline the passage and explanations for what each verse, phrase, or word means. I want students to be encouraged that the Bible is straightforward in its main message and teaching, and that there are plenty of resources for them to learn more.

The youth certainly have a great amount of energy and it takes teaching the Bible in a clear and engaging way to keep their focus. Asking practical questions from the passage and opening it up for brief discussion often draws out interest and curiosity. Prayer before and after the lesson based on the passage helps to focus their minds and to personally apply its practical points, even as God is petitioned to aid in these very areas. Ideally, there is time left after the main teaching for small groups where volunteer leaders go through questions on the lesson, which helps with further understanding and application.

Ministry of the Word to the youth is happening all the time when discipleship and fellowship take place outside of normal youth meetings and the Sunday service: special events, informal meetings to fellowship as friends, or even seeing each other at School or around town. The Word of God is preached and then practiced at all times. Adults and youth leaders should actively strive to proactively engage students for the purpose of edification in the truth while also being consistent Christian role models practicing the truth. All of these considerations work together so that the Word of Christ dwells richly in the heart of every student in youth ministry (Col 3:16-17).

My passion is to instill in our students the same conviction and curiosity in the Bible I had when I was a young believer in my teens. When I was growing up in my youth group, I was convinced that the Bible was God’s Word, so I desired to read and learn more about it constantly. It was my curiosity in knowing biblical truth that led me to discover the delight of learning more and growing in my faith. In the end, it is truly the sharing of this delight in God’s Word that will ground students firmly in truth and root them for ongoing life-long spiritual growth.

-Pastor Spencer Carpenter