Quick sermons for youth

Many youth leaders and youth pastors have a problem coming up with great topics to preach on when preaching for youth. If you are one of them, don’t beat yourself up over it. You’re not the only one and it’s quite normal, especially hard when you have to preach every Sunday. How do you keep coming up with fresh topics?

In two earlier posts in the series on Preaching for youth we discussed what to keep in mind when choosing topics to preach on for youth and the two routes to finding a topic, namely the expository route and the topical route. In this post we’ll give you three approaches on how to find a great topic for your next youth sermon.

It’s not always easy to come up with fresh ideas for topics to preach on to youth

1. Choose a story

Research has shown that stories appeal greatly to this postmodern generation. The Fuller Youth Institute has done extensive research on the topic of ‘sticky faith’, meaning faith that lasts throughout the college years and after. Their findings conform that stories matter, that stories have impact.

Questions to help you find a topic for a sermon for youth:

  • What (unfamiliar) story in the Bible can you use to preach on? What familiar story can you use to share new and fresh insights?

Example: I’d heard the story of David and Goliath many times, but when I read Max Lucado’s Facing Your Giants, I got a whole new perspective which I promptly used for a sermon in a youth service.

  • Can you translate a ‘topical study’ into a story?

Example: you want to preach on being satisfied with what you have, of not always wanting more. You could use the story of David and Bathsheba to illustrate this point.

  • Is there a current story in the news you can use as a starting point for a sermon? Or an older, famous one they may not know yet?

Example: think of stories like the guy who cut off his own arm to survive, the people aboard flight 93, etc. Each of these stories can serve as the starting point for a youth message.

  • Has someone you know experienced something powerful with God that would make a good testimony? Can you build a sermon around this?

Example: a woman in our church was told her baby wouldn’t survive being born and she was advised to have an abortion. She didn’t but instead got a massive prayer effort started. Her baby not only survived, but is now a healthy boy. We used her testimony in a service to show God still performs miracles.

2. Choose a need

Another way to find a topic is to take some time to pray and think about the needs in your youth group. It’s important to dig deep and not just touch on the superficial needs. They may want a new iPad, but that’s not their real need. Their real need may be a deep sense of loneliness, of not belonging.

Questions to help you find a topic for a sermon for youth:

  • What issues are your students struggling with in general? Is there a pastoral issue that’s been popping up a lot lately?

Example: You may see self cutting gaining ‘popularity’. That’s definitely a sign of a deeper underlying issue you could address, like dealing with emotions, feeling alive, or coping with pain or loss.

  • Has something happened lately in your youth group or in your area which has affected your students?

Example: When the father of two of our students died quite unexpectedly, we needed to address this issue because students were having a hard time dealing with it.

  • Is there a recent study or are there statistics on things relating to youth that have drawn (your) attention?

Example: Research has shown that having family dinners together decreases the chance of teens smoking, drinking and doing drugs. What makes family dinners so effective? What need is met in these dinners that prevents teens from engaging in certain behavior that you could address in your sermon?

  • Has there been a news story that has draw attention to an issue amongst youth?

Example: After the recent suicide of a 14-year old boy who was bullied, bullying has become a hot topic again. You could use this for a sermon on feeling different, on belonging, on bullying, on being lonely or even on being depressed or suicidal.

3. Choose something popular

You can also choose something popular to shape your sermon. Be very careful here that you don’t misuse the Bible for your own agenda, to make your own point!

Questions to help you find a topic for a sermon for youth:

  • What songs are popular right now? Is there something in the lyrics, the video or a bout the performing artist that you can use?

Example: Lady Gaga’s ‘Born this way’ is an excellent example of a song you can use for a sermon. There’s a very strong message in that song, but not necessarily a message that corresponds with Scripture.

  • What are the current box office films? Is there something you could use? You don’t even have to show clips form the movie, most of the students will have seen it and you can give a brief overview of what the movie is about for those who haven’t.

Example: It’s a while ago, but we used The return of the King once as a theme for a youth service and a sermon. Our approach was an evangelistic one, telling the students (and their unchurched friends) that Jesus would return as King someday and asking them if they were ready for the return of the King.

  • Is there a popular video, expression, habit, photo, anything? Just look at what your students are sharing on Facebook or posting on Tumblr and you’ll have a pretty good idea.

Example: When Steve Jobs died, many posted pictures of ‘iSad’ or cartoons of Steve Jobs dong something at the gates of heaven. These were good starting points for a sermon on heaven, on loss, on doing something meaningful with your life.

These three approaches may help you find a topic for your next sermon for youth and of course there are many more ways to find topics to preach on (you could try our Youth Sermon Topics page for instance). But none of them matter if God isn’t involved. Every search for a topic to preach on for youth should start with prayer and lots of it. Prayer should be at the heart of your sermon preparation!

How do you come up with good topics to preach on for youth? Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?


Here at Youth Leaders Academy we’re committed to help you serve better in youth ministry and one of the ways in which we do that is by offering ideas for youth sermon topics. Today we’re presenting you an idea for a youth sermon on truth and it’s been field tested and approved!

Why a sermon on truth?

One of the key characteristics of the postmodern culture young people live in nowadays, is the changed vision on truth. For most modernists, truth is absolute and preferably objectively and scientifically proven. For most postmodernists, truth is relative and is based on experience, rather than facts. I’ve written a bit more about this in a post called The challenges of Postmodernism: What is the Truth?

Because the definition of truth has changed, because truth has become relative, young people don’t see Jesus as the absolute truth anymore. They believe He is truth for whomever believes it and most of them certainly don’t believe He’s the only way to God. This is an important belief that needs to be challenged and corrected.

Sermon idea for youth: What is the truth?

Bible passage: John 14:1-7, John 8:32

Key message: Jesus Christ is the only way to God…whether you believe it or not

Synopsis: There’s a difference between a relative truth and an absolute truth. In our postmodern culture, all truths are often seen as relative, but that’s not accurate. When Jesus said He was the Truth, He wasn’t being relative, He was being absolute. Jesus is the only way to God, whether you believe it or not. It’s a very counter-cultural message in this very tolerant day and age, but it is the truth. And it’s a truth with power, because it will set you free. So what will you do with this truth? Do you have the courage to be different and accept this as an absolute truth?

Tips: What I’ve done to make this difficult and somewhat abstract topic more concrete, is use the example of being color blind. People who are color blind can’t see the difference between red and green for instance, it all becomes a brownish yellow to them (just google on this topic and share some facts – you can even find a really cool picture of how color blind people see colors).

Now show your students a green apple. What color is the apple? Most will say green. But if a colorblind person would see the apple, he or she would see it differently. But does that change the actual color of the apple? The apple is green, no matter how people perceive it. It’s an absolute fact.

After explaining the difference between absolute and relative truths, I’ve done an interactive part where students could name examples of both. We did this for a few minutes because they had a hard time grasping the difference.  Then I read the part from John and asked them if Jesus’ statement was absolute or relative. It really sunk in! In the rest of the sermon, I kept referring to the absolute truth of the green apple several times.

Make sure to really challenge them to do something with this truth. Stress how counter-intuitive and counter-cultural it may be for them to really accept that Jesus is the only way to God, but that it is the truth nonetheless. It’s also important to not trash the culture they live in, because it’s a big part of who they are. Challenge them in love, not with contempt or condemnation.


Our sermon ideas for youth or youth services will help you preach a relevant and engaging message for your senior high youth group or junior high youth group. Not only will you find free youth sermons, but you’ll also find powerful stories, meaningful quotes, and illustrations for preaching to youth, church PowerPoints for youth services, and youth-focused videos. Prepare your youth sermons with sermon outlines from SermonCentral.com.

Church leaders from every denomination find youth sermon outlines, encouragement, illustrations, and media for preaching at SermonCentral.com. Join millions of pastors who look to us for resources and encouragement for sermon outlines and preaching.

  • The Devil Wants To Eat You Alive Contributed by Shad Comeaux on Nov 12, 2008

    This youth sermon based on Ephesians 1:1–6:10 and 1 Peter 5:8 focuses on understanding that Satan wants to do nothing but destroy us. Youth pastors will find this youth sermon powerful for challenging teenagers to follow Jesus closely.

  • If I Had Just Listen To Momma And Daddy…….. Contributed by Charles Mccall on Oct 13, 2008

    This youth sermon based on Judges 14:1–16:21 focuses on how if Samson would have listened to his parents, he would never have been involved with a woman like Delilah. Youth pastors will find this youth sermon helpful for talking to teenagers about dating.

  • Just Do It! Contributed by Kevin Blader on Aug 4, 2008

    This youth sermon based on passages from 1 Timothy is a sermon that admonishes young people to set an example with their lives.

  • Youth Of Power And Promise Series Contributed by Alvin Hathaway, Sr. on Mar 20, 2009

    This youth sermon based on 1 Samuel 17:12 and Matthew 1:1–15:5 focuses on how youth have the power and promise to play an integral role in the betterment of our society, community, and church.

  • Hope In The Lord Contributed by Ray Ellis on Jun 1, 2009

    This youth sermon based on Psalm 146:5 focuses on hope, purity, courage, surrender, and guidance for young people.

  • Fighting Between The Ears Contributed by Rodney Burton on Jan 30, 2009

    This youth sermon based on Ephesians 4:23 and Ephesians 6:10 highlights the battle that takes place in our minds and the need to have our minds renewed to live with the mind of Christ.

  • Prove Yourself Series Contributed by Jerry Mckee on Sep 19, 2008

    This youth sermon acknowledges that it’s tough to be a teenager today. This series of messages is for new seventh graders graduating into teenage life. The first message in the series explores the misconceptions that adults have about youth and how to overcome them.

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Free Sermon Illustrations for Youth

These sermon illustrations for youth services will help you preach an engaging message for senior high and junior high kids. Prepare your youth sermons with sermon illustrations from SermonCentral.com.

  • Sometimes When I’m Talking To Teens, I Draw An … Contributed by Sermoncentral on Aug 17, 2001

    Sometimes when I’m talking to teens, I draw an analogy between the bonding capacity of the body and adhesive tape. Adhesive tape is not made for repetitive use. The strongest bond adhesive tape is capable of making is formed with the first surface to which it is applied. You can remove the tape and reapply it to other surfaces…

  • A High School Girl Wrote The Following Letter To …  PRO Contributed by Bruce Howell on Jun 19, 2001

    A high school girl wrote the following letter to a friend:
    I attended your church yesterday. Although you had invited me, you were not there. I looked for you, hoping to sit with you. I sat alone. A stranger, I wanted to sit near the back of the church but those rows were all packed…

  • Since The Bible And The Ten Commandments Have… Contributed by Sermoncentral on Jun 18, 2007

    Since the Bible and the Ten Commandments have been taken out of our schools in the last 40+ years, we now have epidemic problems with teen pregnancy and Sexual diseases; epidemic drug and alcoholic problems, and violence in our schools to such an extent that we have never seen in the history of our Nation. SOMETHING…

  • Deistic Teens- Researchers With The National … Contributed by Sermoncentral on Feb 20, 2007

    Deistic Teens- Researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion have concluded American teens believe in a combination of works based righteousness, religion as psychological well-being, and a distant, non-interfering god. With no place for sin, judgment, salvation, or Christ; their creed is a far cry from Christianity…

  • Generaton Gap Danger Contributed by Sermoncentral on Apr 10, 2008

    In America adolescence is taken for granted, but until recently, the idea of adolescence was unknown in many parts of the world, says Cynthia B. Lloyd, author of Growing Up Global, a National Research Council and…

Sermon illustrations specifically for youth

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PowerPoint Backgrounds For Youth

These PowerPoint backgrounds for youth services will help you preach an engaging and relevant message for young people. Prepare your youth sermons with PowerPoint backgrounds from SermonCentral.com.

  • quick sermons for youth Youth Produced by SermonCentral

    A colorful set of backgrounds for your message about youth ministry or for announcing your youth group events.

  • quick sermons for youth A Successful Graduate Produced by SermonCentral

    Congratulate the graduates in your congrgation and instruct them in the way they should go using these celebratory images.

  • quick sermons for youth Student Ministry Produced by SermonCentral

    Use this bold background to announce the activities in your student ministry or to call for volunteers.

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Video Illustrations for Youth

These video illustrations for youth services will help you preach an engaging message for young people. Prepare your youth sermons with video illustrations from SermonCentral.com.

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  • quick sermons for youth Graduates Trust God Produced by Centerline New Media

    As your graduates make this important transition in life, use this mini-movie to inspire them to trust God and to listen for his voice in everything they do and everywhere they go. Great for Graduation Sunday. (Based on Proverbs 3:5-6.)

  • quick sermons for youth Beacons Of Christ (Graduation) Produced by Centerline New Media

    No matter how old you are, God can use you. Based on 1 Timothy 4:12, this mini-movie challenges the youth in your congregation to set an example for all believers in what they say and in the way they live. Perfect for Graduation Sunday!

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When it comes to decorating for Christmas, some youth pastors find this to be one of the most difficult things to do. While there are some awesome Christmas decoration setups that people have created, they cost a bundle that not every youth budget can afford. Of course, even on a budget, you will still be able to host a youth Christmas party and have a setup that youth will end up talking about for a long time. The best ingredient for a Christmas Party is games and relationships, but you still want a to have a little bit of decorations to enhance the Christmas atmosphere.

Decorating the Snack Table
Chances are if you are hosting a youth party, you will be having a table spread of food. This is the perfect place to begin the decoration process. Find an inexpensive green table cloth to throw on it and accent it with a series of red candles. If your youth are a little wild, candles might be a little dangerous in which you might want to accent the table cloth with red cups, forks, napkins, etc. You can even simply tie a large ribbon and bow across the table (easily made from a strips of red cloth or even a red table cloth cut into strips, and make it look like a giant wrapped gift. This inexpensive and simple method is the perfect way to begin the Christmas decorations in your home or youth room.

Christmas Lights
Lights are also a very popular way of decorating for your youth Christmas party. You can place these twinkling lights around windows, the edges of a wall or just about anywhere at all. They will add the holiday feeling in a room and can get youth talking. While you are doing this, keep in mind that you should never put together more than 3 sets per plug.

Christmas Tree
The Christmas tree is another staple that will be essential in the space you are decorating. When you are looking for the perfect size, try to shoot for about a foot short of being between the floor and your ceiling. This way, you have room for a topper and if it lights, you won’t have to worry about it touching the ceiling and getting too hot. While you are decorating it, make sure you have a series of lights deep around the inner portion of the tree as well as the edges. Larger ornaments go at the base and they work up to the smallest ones at the top of the tree. This way, you end up with a brilliant looking tree that people will compliment you on.

If you find you are just looking to fill the room with some quick Christmas cheer, pick up a series of red and green balloons. These will fill up a space quickly, keep the theme you want for your decorations and it will still feel like a holiday party, even if you don’t have a tree or other items setup. Along with this, you might also consider using some Crepe paper to fill the area above with a series of green and red options.

Decorating Tips
When it comes to decorations, keep in mind that less is more in some cases and you should embrace that attitude. While it might look awesome to pack a room full of winter villages, trees and a variety of other items, it can become visually overpowering. Instead, keep things simple and let each item that you add to your room stand out on its own. This will not only please your youth, but will make cleaning up far easier after the holiday has ended and the decorations need to come down.

Christmas Collection
Games and Activities helping youth discover the Reason for the Season.

Get more than 200 creative ideas for planning a Youth Christmas celebration or Christmas Party party. You can immediately download my best Christmas Icebreakers, games, illustrations, Christmas activity ideas AND MUCH MORE in a useful ebook!

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