Sermon Prep Time

I spend about 5 hours preparing my youth ministry sermons, or up to 10 if I’m teaching in our main service. Sometimes I’ll prepare for a few hours, look at my outline, delete the whole thing and start over. That can be super frustrating, until I remember…

If 230 students are coming that weekend, each of them will spend 30 minutes getting ready to come. That’s 6,900 minutes, or about 11 hours. They’ll probably each drive at least 2 miles to get there, and 2 miles home. That’s almost a thousand miles traveled to come and be taught by me.

That fact helps me spend an extra hour or two preparing my sermon.

Sermon Prep Time

I spend about 5 hours preparing my youth ministry sermons, or up to 10 if I’m teaching in our main service. Sometimes I’ll prepare for a few hours, look at my outline, delete the whole thing and start over. That can be super frustrating, until I remember…

If 230 students are coming that weekend, each of them will spend 30 minutes getting ready to come. That’s 6,900 minutes, or about 11 hours. They’ll probably each drive at least 2 miles to get there, and 2 miles home. That’s almost a thousand miles traveled to come and be taught by me.

That fact helps me spend an extra hour or two preparing my sermon.

My Worst Sermon Ever

They say public speaking is the #1 fear for most people.

That seems silly to me, maybe because I’m comfortable speaking to large groups… but also because I’m much more afraid of guns, sharks and checking my bank account balance.

But on a Wednesday night back in 2008, I stood in front of a large group of teenagers, microphone in hand, and I was petrified.

I have been speaking once or twice to students since the beginning of 2002, not to mention some camps, trips and other events, so I had probably given 700 or 800 sermons before that day. At least a dozen of those sermons were the same topic that I was about to teach through.

It was week #1 of a love/sex/dating series. There were probably a couple hundred kids in the room.

It was absolutely horrible.

  • Problem #1: I was still pretty new on staff, so I didn’t feel like I had much credibility yet. All I had going for me is that I was (usually) funny, and that I looked like Dane Cook.
  • Problem #2: About an hour before we met, another youth group of about 40 said they were going to visit our group that night. They all walked in looking like they wanted to stab me.
  • Problem #3: Our church’s lead pastor decided to come visit us on this night, and this night alone. He stood in the back the entire time, right underneath a light fixture.
  • Problem #4: I titled the sermon, “Taming the Inner Stallion”. I was trying to be funny, but it was a dumb title that didn’t fit. I definitely avoided eye contact with the Lead Pastor while sharing the title.
  • Problem #5: I had no passion whatsoever, and I spoke with no authority. All of the sudden I didn’t even know if I agreed with what I was saying, like, ya know?

At one point I froze up, and I think I made eye contact with every confused kid before I uttered another word…

At that point what I could have (SHOULD HAVE) done is wrapped it up and trusted the Holy Spirit to translate my mess into something helpful.

But no, I am stubborn… and I thought, “I can fix this”.

Thirty minutes later, I wanted to drive to the Huntington Beach pier, cover myself in shark bait, and take a dive. I think I faked a stomach ache and went home immediately.

I say all of this because tomorrow night I’m kicking off a 3-week teaching series on love, sex and dating.

Wish me luck 🙂

My Worst Sermon Ever

They say public speaking is the #1 fear for most people.

That seems silly to me, maybe because I’m comfortable speaking to large groups… but also because I’m much more afraid of guns, sharks and checking my bank account balance.

But on a Wednesday night back in 2008, I stood in front of a large group of teenagers, microphone in hand, and I was petrified.

I have been speaking once or twice to students since the beginning of 2002, not to mention some camps, trips and other events, so I had probably given 700 or 800 sermons before that day. At least a dozen of those sermons were the same topic that I was about to teach through.

It was week #1 of a love/sex/dating series. There were probably a couple hundred kids in the room.

It was absolutely horrible.

  • Problem #1: I was still pretty new on staff, so I didn’t feel like I had much credibility yet. All I had going for me is that I was (usually) funny, and that I looked like Dane Cook.
  • Problem #2: About an hour before we met, another youth group of about 40 said they were going to visit our group that night. They all walked in looking like they wanted to stab me.
  • Problem #3: Our church’s lead pastor decided to come visit us on this night, and this night alone. He stood in the back the entire time, right underneath a light fixture.
  • Problem #4: I titled the sermon, “Taming the Inner Stallion”. I was trying to be funny, but it was a dumb title that didn’t fit. I definitely avoided eye contact with the Lead Pastor while sharing the title.
  • Problem #5: I had no passion whatsoever, and I spoke with no authority. All of the sudden I didn’t even know if I agreed with what I was saying, like, ya know?

At one point I froze up, and I think I made eye contact with every confused kid before I uttered another word…

At that point what I could have (SHOULD HAVE) done is wrapped it up and trusted the Holy Spirit to translate my mess into something helpful.

But no, I am stubborn… and I thought, “I can fix this”.

Thirty minutes later, I wanted to drive to the Huntington Beach pier, cover myself in shark bait, and take a dive. I think I faked a stomach ache and went home immediately.

I say all of this because tomorrow night I’m kicking off a 3-week teaching series on love, sex and dating.

Wish me luck 🙂

Luke 15

I am teaching in our main service at Mission for the first time this weekend. Ironically enough, I’m teaching on the passage that I taught on during my interview weekend at Calvary. Mark and I were talking last month about what message would be a great fit for this weekend (which is a baptism service), and he picked this passage. I couldn’t be more excited! We’ll be wrapping up each of the services with a whole bunch of baptisms that will take place during the final songs. Our worship pastor C.J Bergmen has some amazing songs picked out to complement the message and the baptisms.

I’m sure that most of the people who come this weekend will have heard the story of the Prodigal Son. Maybe all of them. Maybe they’ve heard about the wandering sheep or the lost coin. But this is one of those stories that should never get old. I love what Tim Keller says in “The Prodigal God” about familiar stories like this one:

“One of the signs that you may not grasp the unique, radical nature of the gospel is that you are certain that you do.”

Dallas Willard put it another way in The Divine Conspiracy:

“Presumed familiarity breeds unfamiliarity.”

Just when we think we “get it”, God peels back another layer of this beautiful gospel.

It really is good news… no matter how badly it gets misrepresented by picketers and “pastors” from Tempe.

I’m grateful to be in a place where they trust me to teach from the main stage. Mark has me scheduled to teach once a month for the next 5 or 6 months… but I think he wrote it in pencil HAHA! I’ll try not to be horrible. It’s really hard to mess up Luke 15, but I’ve seen it done.

I will be including some childish (moderately inappropriate) humor in my sermon though, just to maintain my youth pastor’ness. Stay tuned 🙂