Do you long to see teens and young adults more solidly connected to your church?
Are you a preacher or do you belong to a church that has a preacher?
If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, I invite you to take on the “Preaching Tag-team Challenge.”
The best way to explain the challenge is to tell you this story.
I serve as a small group leader in the youth program at the Meadowlands Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Ancaster, ON, and Abigail was part of this small group during her final two years of high school (she graduated this past spring). Whenever issues related to biblical teachings about justice were discussed, Abigail came alive with passion and a wealth of knowledge about both the Scriptures and contemporary writings related to justice. Finally, I asked her, “How would you like to prepare and preach a sermon together with me sometime this summer?”
Without missing a beat, Abigail replied, “Sure!”
A month later we met at a coffee shop to begin preparation. “I wonder if we might focus on Gal. 3: 26-29,” suggested Abby, “the passage which declares that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female?” I agreed, and we began brainstorming an outline for the message. The outline was transferred to a Google doc, which allowed Abigail and me to work on the sermon, see each other’s work, ask each other questions and make suggestions to one another. The outline was structured so that the preaching that Abby and I did went back and forth three or four times during the sermon quite seamlessly.
After more meetings at coffee shops, the sermon was finally ready, and on a Saturday afternoon Abigail and I stood in her dining room and preached the sermon to her dad, who had a stopwatch in hand. The flow was solid, the length was perfect, the delivery felt natural, and the sermon was ready to share with our congregation.
Finally, after three months, Sunday morning came. Built on a foundation of extensive preparation, prayer and practice, the sermon went well. Somehow its message of finding our identity in Christ rather than through secondary roles like the six mentioned in Galatians 3 hit home deeply to a community aware of rising tribalism around the world, Trumpism next door, and various challenges in our personal lives that each of us face. Abby and I shared our own struggles in living out the passage, encouraged one another to faithfulness, and celebrated the new identity we had received through Christ. We ended with Abigail reading the rousing vision of the multitude of saints from every people, tribe, nation and language gathered before the throne in Rev. 7.
So what was it like for us to do this?
That afternoon, Abby texted, “Thanks for this opportunity and believing in me!” That warmed my heart. She later told me about the numerous encouragements she had received after the service.
One of my deepest passions for the church is youth leadership development, and after partnering with Abby on this sermon, I hope to be part of a such a preaching tag-team once a year for as long as the Lord graces me with the ability to preach. To be honest, it was more work than “normal” sermon preparation, but it was more rewarding as well. The issues of the Gal. 3 passage resonate deeply with matters the Lord is working on in me these days, and this process became a vehicle for the Spirit to continue that work in me. The ways in which Abby worked with the writings of Tim Keller and a variety of gospel passages that illustrated the truths of Gal. 3 blessed me and the entire congregation. I’m very grateful to be part of a congregation that recognizes that wisely discerned experiments play an important role in strengthening the body of Christ and its witness in our world.
And now, dear reader, what about you? Did you say “yes” to the two questions at the beginning of this piece: do you long to see teens and young adults more deeply connected to your community, and does your church’s weekly rhythms include preaching?
If you did, Abby and I invite you to take on the “Preaching Tag-Team Challenge” and share what you learned after taking the beautiful risk.