I interned at The City Church, and had the honor of sitting under the teachings of Judah Smith, who is arguably one of the best communicators on the planet. Every Thursday morning a group of young leaders would meet with Pastor Judah at 5:55am to learn about life, leadership, and good communicating. This was an opportunity most people only dream of having, and I’m eternally thankful for it. During this time, Pastor Judah taught a group of young leaders his 8 steps to communicate, and now I am passing them on to another group of young leaders – the collective.
Introduce yourself to the audience- especially to the new people who most likely don’t know you.
If no one hears anything you say later on in the message, they at least heard the Word of God.
Praying is not only for the preacher to speak well, but also for the people to prepare their hearts to receive the Word.
If you were to give a gift to a close friend, would you wrap it in rags? The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift in the world! It is our responsibility to give its introduction the consideration it deserves. Work on your introduction. Spend time crafting an opening that will draw the attention of the hearers to the content at hand.
You must establish a connection with the audience. A simple way to do this is to pose a question. “Have you ever…” (or a hybrid of this) is a great type of question because it makes people think and identify with your observation. Work to create tension by introducing an unresolved issue that needs resolution. Every story you’ve ever heard rests on an unresolved issue. People need a reason to listen to a subject. It must be important to their life, and you have a short time to convince them. You alone have the ability to make your sermon matter.
A sermon is a thought trying to engage hearers among interfering thoughts of the enemy, distraction, iPhones, plans, and what’s for lunch. Good preachers help people take every thought captive.
#5 Transition Statement
We engage the mind of the people in the intro so that we may engage their spirit in the Text. The transition statement is the bridge between these two worlds, as it allows you to take your illustration and connect it to your point. Imagine you are a bus driver. The introduction would persuade people onto your bus, but the transition is where you show the destination and give them a reason to stay on the bus. Write out your transition statement verbatim, it will force you to make your point clear and concise.
Before you preach the portion of scripture you’ve chosen for the week, pause and ask yourself; why does this matter to who I’m preaching to? As enthusiasts of the Word of God, we can sometimes jump into the complexities of Christ without even considering if anyone is following, like a scientist lost in their world of advanced formulas amidst an 8am class of undergrads. Don’t just preach the Word, know exactly why you are preaching that word, to those youth, at that place and time.
While preaching to youth, your target audience should be the sixteen year old guy. Therefore, make your point obvious, and keep your sermon simple. A great model for youth is to use an Old Testament story as your foundation, a New Testament verse that directly correlates, and a proverb or verse from Psalms to drive it home.
Take the point of the text and apply it to their lives. Determine what questions the audience would be asking, and answer those questions. Beware to not speak to the critic in the audience, instead speak to the searching soul. Apply the point to hypothetical situations that hit close to home, making it relevant to the audience. Write out your conclusion verbatim, as it will force you to wrap up loose ends and bring everything back to the main point.
Think about the call throughout the entire sermon so that the people will be both moved in their spirit and moved to action. Create an atmosphere with the lighting and background music for the Holy Spirit to move and convict His people.
The call to action should be two-fold. Firstly, appeal to people to respond to the sermon with a phrase like, “If you need to get right with God…” This is a specific call to those who the Holy Spirit has been speaking to during the sermon, and calling them to change.
Secondly, make a broader appeal to the audience to respond for Salvation with a phrase like, “If you have never received Christ…” There will always be new people coming to the church, therefore, this call will always be needed.