I have been speaking regularly to students for 8 years. I have definitely come a long way. I remember starting out feeling that I had to be this deep theologian, and for some reason I taught so deep, nothing was happening in the students’ lives. Then, I went into a vague sort of phrase where I was talking about how the people in the Bible responded to life, but never made it directly practical to how a student should respond in life. I have learned so much in my short tenure of speaking to students. Now, I do not claim to have it all together by any means, but here are a few things that I have learned in these 8 years.
- Keep their attention– It is important to think through your illustrations before getting up to speak. Have solid, fun, and pointed illustrations to keep their attention. It is important also to remember to get their attention from the very beginning as well using an illustration, a story, or just be energetic.
- Teach one main thought– Now, some may read this, and think that this means dumbing it down for students. This is not what I believe at all. Think of it as zeroing a thought in, not dumbing it down. It is taking a concept, and driving it home. If you come to youth group bringing 5-7 concepts, make that a teaching series, and discuss 1 concept each week.
- Have a sense of humor– This is something that I have had to learn. I have a sense of humor, but felt that the pulpit was not the place for it when I first started. Now, I have learned that it is okay when appropriate. By the way, your main objective better not to make them laugh. That is the wrong focus, but it is okay to have a sense of humor to keep their attention while you try to preach the Gospel.
- Teach transparently– Use personal illustrations of how you struggle. Admitting a struggle is not a sign of weakness, but rather a sign of maturity. Students can see right through hypocrisy so be authentic.
- Use technology– I try to always use the PowerPoint and screen when teaching to students if it is available It helps the ones taking notes on paper or on their phone. You have to be up to date with technology, and students appreciate this.
- Teach in love– Be direct, Biblical, but loving in your message. Students appreciate this, but remember there is a balance between responsibility on our part in the Christian life, and teaching in love. You can go too far on both sides of the spectrum.
Hope this helps you in teaching to students.