Ditch the “Christianese” It is a bit comical but mostly sad to hear any minister use abstruse theology or diffuse biblical concepts. They sound smart and well trained as a polymath in Christian living. However, our intent should be to expose people to the Gospel rather than leaving them confused or impressed by our prolix of verbosity. While student pastors are not the leaders of the pack in this matter compared to those serving as senior pastor, it can be a challenging aspect of student ministry. We want to challenge students without watering down the non-negotiable truths, yet we also want them “get it”. Better to err on the side of simplicity than arcane pleonasm.
Use Language They Understand
Use language teenagers understand. This is not the same as using language that sounds like a teenager is the one talking. Rather it is using words that convey concrete concepts and leave little room for misunderstanding. Christianese says: The third part of the triune God spilled His blood as the propitiation for our transgressions. Speaker to an adolescent audience says: Jesus is the payment for our sin debt. Deep theological lessons and countless hours of preparation mean nothing if they don’t know what you’re talking about. And while I am on a verbal rant, please make a deliberate effort to use words like I, we, and us when preaching rather than you, they, and them. Too often preaching assumes everyone in the room is a believer. The implied idea is that everyone needs what is being preached but the one doing the preaching.
Speak Truth in Love
They may never know how much time you spend preparing to deliver a theological masterpiece understood by your adolescent audience. It’s possible they may never appreciate your dedication to crafting Gods word into understandable concepts. They may not realize the challenge in delivering bite-sized truths that capture the attention span of a middle school student with Attention Deficit Disorder. But if you speak the truth in love and commit to the task of building a sermon with the learning style and developmental stage of your target audience in mind, you will find more students responding to the truth of the Gospel.
“The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Psalm 119:130
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Colossians 4:6
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