When I was a teenager, I remember thinking during my Pastor’s and Youth Pastor’s sermons, “How in the world can these guys preach a new message from the Bible every single Sunday and Wednesday?” Fast forward a few years later, and I was now that guy. To be honest, the idea of coming up with new Bible studies week after week terrified me. I will also admit there were a few times I pulled out Bible studies on the spot, and yes, they were not my best.
My opinion is that no minister should EVER not know what they will be speaking on, and the way you avoid that is by preparing properly and developing Bible lessons in advance.
My rule of thumb is this: if you are in full-time youth ministry and have a designated time where you are speaking, then you should be creating your own lessons.
When it comes to your designated small group / Sunday school times, your leaders need to have a pre-written curriculum. If you’re a part-time or volunteer youth pastor, your time constraints mean you may not have the time to develop your own Bible studies, so using a curriculum is totally understandable. However, if you can develop your own, go for it!
On that note, here are 3 practices you can do to stay on top of your Bible lessons:
Start with book-to-book studies
The idea behind going through books of the Bible is getting you used to developing Bible studies. Since all books of the Bible have a logical progression, you will already know what you will be preaching on the next week, because the next paragraph / chapter will be the lesson.
Now, you don’t have to have each lesson already written out, but you have to at least know if you are going to read all of the chapter, or only a passage from it, and you should also develop your main idea. Once you do this, you’ll have your passage and main idea for each week to come, and then you can focus on building the lesson for the current week. When you feel comfortable enough with planning out Bible studies, then you can begin stretching out and developing topical studies.
Look at the calendar
Your calendar is your friend and can be a major aid to you when you are developing your Bible studies. God has built a rhythm to life through seasons, and with each season comes with its own themes and holidays. Moreover, looking at the calendar allows you to see what you have scheduled for your teens. So if you know you have a retreat coming up, you can plan a special study to help your students prepare for it. Or if you know of a special event or holiday that is going to happen during a study that you’re preparing for, you can take a small break from the study to focus on that. Furthermore, don’t forget about the liturgical calendar! This is a fantastic way to add another layer of theology to your planning.
Prepare for crisis of faith studies
We live in a broken world, and our students are dramatically affected by it. They will experience joy, death, love, and heartache. One of the best things we can do is prepare studies around crisis situations for those “why God” questions that will happen. The Bible doesn’t shy away from the brokenness sin has caused, and there’s no reason for us to miss those opportunities. Make some Bible studies for it, and file them away for when you need it.
Finally, when you do prepare your Bible studies, bathe them in prayer. Only the Spirit of God has the ability to speak into the lives of every single one of our students. We are only the messengers, but are given the amazing opportunity to prepare the message with Christ. The only way we’ll know what God is wanting to share is if we stay in constant dialogue with him. Don’t overlook the role prayer plays in declaring God’s Word.