I literally just got back from speaking at a high school chapel at a Christian school in town. Pulling from my years of student ministry, I shared the contents of the blog post I wrote earlier, “7 Things I Wish I Could Tell Every High Schooler.” The response from the students, even at 8 in the morning, was extremely positive. The students were leaning in, staying with me, and giving me positive non-verbal feedback throughout the talk.
Why? Because I talked about something that they wanted to hear about. Alcohol, sex, and adulthood, all pretty safe topics for interest when it comes to high schoolers. But it reminded me of why I preach the way I do. There are many different schools of thought about how to preach and differing opinions on what preachers should talk about. Lots of highly polished men, with lots of highly polished diplomas, speak eloquently for their points of view, many of them conflicting with each other.
Some think that the only way to preach is to walk through the Bible, verse-by-verse. “Just preach the Word,” they would say. For them, nothing excites them more than a two-year sermon series walking through the book of Romans. That may be fine, it’s just not my style. My style gets the verse-by-verse folks up in arms. They see it as a degradation of Scripture. I see it as biblical preaching.
Here’s the example I base my preaching style off of: Jesus. Look in the gospels. How many times do we see Jesus taking his disciples through a verse-by-verse study of the book of Leviticus? Never. How did Jesus preach? He used every day examples to talk about deeper truths pertinent to his hearers. He talked about farmers and lost sheep. He used contemporary culture as a bridge to deeper spiritual truths.
That’s why I talk to high schoolers about alcohol and sex and adulthood, issues they care about, and use them as a bridge to the deeper truths found in Scripture. One nice by-product of preaching about issues people actually care about: people listen. And they bring their friends to listen too. That’s why I preach the way I do.