Youth Ministry Trick #5


Studying the Tabernacle of the Old Testament is absolutely fascinating.   The wonders of the Holy of Holies and the symbols of Christ’s redeeming work are truly unsearchable riches, but a lot of fun to examine.  As much as I enjoy studying this subject, I’ve not once preached a message about the Tabernacle to my teens.

I’ve never hit the Levitical priesthood.

And I’ve yet to venture into a verse-by-verse exegesis of I Chronicles.

I work hard to give my teens “meaty” messages.  The Bible is primary, not my life experiences or some book of illustrations (though I understand the excitement of finding a super cool story and being tempted to come up with a message to fit the story!).  I’m not against using stories.  Jesus told many stories.  But they are to be used to help human minds get a good grasp of the things of God.

My goal is not to entertain my teens or to impress them with my vast knowledge of the Bible.  Nor do I care too much about dictating facts to them.  There are too many teens that can win Bible quizzes but are spiritual losers.  As I prepare messages twice a week, I am most concerned with RELEVANCE!  How am I going to help my teens?  What do they need?

Put yourself in their shoes.  You might have some teens who have caught on to mom and dad’s stress over paying the bills.  Or maybe mom and dad are on the brink of divorce.  Or maybe there’s no dad in the picture.  You probably have some kids who are stuggling with bad habits or a secret life.  You can’t hit every issue every Sunday school hour, but you’re certainly not going to give them something to take home and use if you’re teaching them about the priestly garments.  If you’re going to preach about the Tabernacle, better make it relevant.  Don’t despair over your lack of comedic timing or your reserved demeanor.  Young people will respect preaching and teaching that makes sense.  Give them someting they can use right now.

Just to help you get the wheels turning, here are a few sermon series I’ve preached through:  Underdogs of the Bible; What DID Jesus Do? (Life of Christ); Vanity of Vanities (Ecclesiastes); Idiots of the Bible; How to Raise your Parents; Principles for Life; The Real Prince of Egypt (Life of Moses); Learning From Lepers.


20 comments so far

  1. Becka on

    I really enjoyed my Tabernacle class in college, but…. 🙂

    We have a few kids in our youth group who come from broken homes. Every other week, they are missing from Sunday School. This was a great post on making sure the teens are getting what they NEED. This is not always the same as what they WANT to hear. I know a teenager who would ask the same questions over and over hoping for a different answer than the answer already given from the Bible. They never did get a different answer!

  2. Mark on

    Same thing in my youth group with blended families. Make it hard to really get going on a series. “How to raise your Parents” sounds interesting. What direction do you go with that?

  3. corey on

    thanks for this! do you have a recommendation for sunday school curriculum?

  4. Renae on

    I have your notes from the Principles for Life Series! I also remember most of the other series you have mentioned! 🙂 Jay, Thanks for taking the time to study and preach the Word faithfully and for teaching us things that were practical for life! I also remember the series you did out of Song of Solomon! What a great series on the love that the Lord has for us and the relationship we can have with Him!

  5. jaynepomuceno on

    We’ve had a number of young people do the every other week thing. It’s exciting when they fall so much in love with the Lord that they decide (on their own) they need to be back for church on Sunday morning. There have been few things in my ministry that have encouraged and blessed my heart more than seeing that.

    “Raising Your Parents” is mostly an attention getting title. Then, of course, I try to help them become subject to their parents. I stress honoring the position, not necessarily the person.

    I’m not a fan of ready-made curriculums. Those writers don’t know my teens. In a short stint as a youth leader in New Mexico, I had to use them. Very frustrating. I strayed from the lessons often, even just dropped one completely in the middle of youth group. That being said, I’ve always been full-time. I’m sure curriculums can be a help to volunteers. But still, work to make it relevant!

    Renae, you’re awesome! It seems like I preached the Song of Solomon series just recently. I can’t believe it’s been that long ago. That means I can bring it back around soon!

  6. Robby on

    PLEASE!!! dont ever preach a series about the tabernacle.. ha :).. but somehow i think u would find a way to make it interesting.. ha lol!

  7. Robby on

    oh and the principles 4 life was 1 of the best series i have ever heard… it was very good n relavnt.. good job jay!!! 😀

  8. lonestarpreacher on

    so who are the idiots of the bible?

  9. jaynepomuceno on

    Idiots of the Bible: Achan, Nadab & Abihu, Prodigal’s Brother, Demas, Jonah, Lot.

    Oh, and back to the curriculum question, I don’t have a recommendation. I had to use ProTeens, which I didn’t think was very good.

  10. dar... on

    hahaha i remember that picture…lol good times!!
    i still cant believe u wouldnt let us wear those…

  11. jaynepomuceno on

    You wanted to wear those funky hats door knocking, Darlene! No way!

  12. dar... on

    hahaha at least its WAY better than having you guys prancing around in the Grand Canyon and wearing those ghetto sea green “model” shirts and those weird black stretchy thngys that make your head all weird! lol We wasted so much time stopping every 5 minutes so you guys could get a different pose for each rock we went to.

  13. jaynepomuceno on

    No, Darlene, there is NOTHING better than us hunks in our green shirts and doo-rags. You can’t help but take pictures every five minutes when you’re looking that good!

  14. heather on

    thanks Jay for all the time you put in to us.
    thanks for the great messages, camps, and especially missions trips.

  15. heather on

    see Jay you dont have to put rude post so ill comment,lol.
    i loved thoses hats we looked away better than you guys.

  16. jaynepomuceno on

    No, Heather, you girls aren’t even in the same universe as G.S.H.! Maybe I’ll post some pics and let the readers decide.

  17. S.J. on

    Jay thanks for all that you do for us. I bet we don’t even hear the half of all the work you do (unless your in the flesh and you start whining about the work ;-)…). I hate that pic. You couldn’t get one with my eyes open?! lol but ya I agree with dar. All we did was wear hats… you guys made up a name for ur “boy band”, got shirts, wore those hideous doo-rags, posed whenever possible IN PUBLIC at the GRAND CANYON… wow the list goes on. Though I must admit, I didn’t hate it, I love the memories, no matter how embarassing. 🙂 oh and that contest for the “album cover”… *sigh* good times.

  18. S.J. on

    ok on the topic of messages…
    Out of the list you’ve made I think I’ve listened to:
    Idiots of the Bible
    Principles for Life
    Did I hear Underdogs of the Bible? Not sure… some of the others sounds vaguely familiar too but that could just be my imagination…
    Oh and you’re preaching The Real Prince of Egypt right now. Wow, I was JUST talking to Kevin about some of your messages and my favorite was your mini-series, Running on Empty. I hold that one close to my heart. Also the message, I Am Debtor… Thanks Jay. Can’t say it enough. I thank God for blessing us with you for a youth director (pastor 🙂 )

  19. jaynepomuceno on

    If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Running on Empty, with The Real Prince of Egypt a close second. I think it’s been about five years since I last preached Underdogs. I guess I can bring it back now!

    And we were so workin’ our green shirts!

  20. Renae on

    Jay, one of the things I miss most about youth group is your preaching. Seriously! Your messages are always relevent to me and, thankfully, you don’t preach on the tabernacle! You are both practical and relevent in your messages. Thanks for all the hard work throughout the many years!

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