Episode 3: Speaking To Teens w/ David Shannon

Show Notes:

We, YMs, work with teens on a weekly, even daily basis. We teach teens multiple times a week. Yet there’s not many YMs who are keynote speakers at major events we go to. David is great at speaking to teenagers, so today we want to interview him on his techniques, lesson prep & delivery, and advice for YMs.


  • Is your lesson prep different when you speak to teens than when you speak to adults? If so, how?

    • David: Doesn’t change a lot, but when studying core principles of the text, he may call/text some younger guys and ask, “What is it that your generation wrestles with?” so he can make application that meets the audience where they are.

    • David: When speaking to teens, he actually finds himself studying a little bit harder and/or a little bit longer. Study down deep into the text, and then speak coming up out of the text.

    • David: The way to simply a difficult text is to study it a little bit longer.

  • How is your delivery different when you speak to teens?

    • David: Wants teens to know that he genuinely loves them and respects them. Believes they are one of the greatest resources in the church.

    • David: He doesn’t believe in “dumbing down” Christianity to teens because God doesn’t do that.

  • Walk us through your lesson prep process. Are you an outline guy? Random notes on a piece of paper? Manuscript? What’s your process?

    • David: I am an outline guy, for the most part.

    • David: Reads things before and after the text to put it in proper context. Then figure out what the main points from the text are.

    • David: Tries to be fair to the text and understand it before even beginning to write a lesson. Once the lesson is discovered, how does this lesson apply to my audience?

    • David: What are the key words, key teachings, what’s the key application to all of this?

    • David: Writes the introduction after the lesson is written.

  • Do you give each lesson a practice run? If so, what difference have you found that to make?

    • David: Gives each lesson out loud before he preaches/teaches it to his audience. Once the lesson is completely written, he gives himself 2 hours to go over it (slow and methodically). Helps him realize which parts don’t flow. Also helps in memorizing his lesson. Helps make smoother transitions.

    • David: Introductions are very important. They are an advertisement for your lesson. They tell the audience whether or not your lesson is worth listening to.

    • David: Half of public speaking is rich, deep, powerful content from the Word of God. The other half is delivery. People deserve a speaker/teacher who will give 100%.

  • Are there any websites or resources you use for illustrations?

    • David: In the past, he filed illustrations from newspapers, etc. Now he keeps illustrations in folders on his computer.

    • David: Anything he reads, he saves it under 2 or 3 different names in the illustration folder.

    • David: News websites, sports websites, normal material that you read.

    • David: Send an email to some good friends to help find illustrations on that point or text.

  • Speaking as a parent, what is the most important quality a YM can have?

    • David: Godliness. Real and right relationship with God. A great youth minister will want the children to become more godly. Not bigger numbers, but greater faith.

  • Share with us ONE THING that you think will change the way we speak to teens.

    • David: “Teach us to number our days, that we would have a heart of wisdom” (Psalms  ). Realize that you have such few opportunities to share with them everything they need to learn over the 6-7 years you have them in your youth ministry. Have the attitude that each time they come into your class, you want them to really learn something from God. Your job is to try to convince them to believe it and live it. Our prayer should be that this lesson could change lives.

FINAL QUESTION: What advice would you give to YMs in regards to public teaching and speaking?

David: Youth ministry is at its best that when the YM realizes that there is nothing more important than you will ever do than your teaching. Regardless of everything else you are asked to do. Put your time into studying the Word of God. Be prepared to teach.

** If you would like to hear David Shannon speak more about speaking, check outpreachbetter.com**