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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

weekend recap

It was a great weekend at Mission Church! I got some great feedback after my message (but that’s usually the only kind you get).

Our lead pastor Mark sat me down for a few minutes after my first sermon and offered me this advice:

“Work on the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes… the rest is great.”

Then after my second sermon he sat me down for about 20 minutes.

The next day my sermon was about 40% different than it was the day before. I had scrapped my opening illustration and replaced it with a personal story (that I now agree was a better fit). I had also bailed on a whole lot of the context of Luke 15, and spent more time encouraging people to take a step towards God, who was ready to come running off the porch in their direction at first sight of repentance.

I’ve gotta be honest— it was difficult for me to make the changes. I really loved what I had prepared. I had worked hard on it. But I REALLY respect the opinion of Mark. He’s a rock solid teacher, he knows our church body better than I do (of course he does), he has been teaching for a lot longer than I have, and its no mystery why God has him in the position he does.

I came home on Saturday night and made all sorts of changes, which was nerve racking to say the least! I was worried that I would show up on Sunday with nothing to say. But I just sat with the text, opened up my speaking notes, and was confident God would do whatever he wanted.

Teaching is brutal, especially in front of people who don’t know you very well. I LOVE teaching my students. They know me, they get me, they are my people! But I came home exhausted on Sunday… but encouraged because I know that I did my small part in sharing this amazing gospel.

It really is good news after all.