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10 reasons why you should do lesson prep early

10 reasons why you should do lesson prep earlyWe’ve all done it: driving to youth group, flipping through the Bible at every red light, hoping for some spiritual inspiration to hit us before we enter a room of teenagers (and probably church elders) who are expecting us to bring some mind-blowing truth from God’s Word. It rarely works, and even when it does, you leave youth group feeling inside that you could’ve been a better steward of the time and attention that was entrusted to you.

A couple years ago I said that my life is the best small group curriculum I have, and, while that’s still often true, it’s never an excuse to come ill-prepared to a place where God wants to use you to communicate His divine message to students.

Here’s just a couple reasons off the top of my head why it’s best to do your lesson preparation early.

1. You’ll have time to meditate on the lesson so the Holy Spirit can help you tweak it.

2. There’s less of a chance that you’ll hit a mental block.

3. It gives you more time and ability to be creative.

4. You need the time to put the lesson into practice in your own life first before you expect others to do it. Then you’ll teach from your heart instead of from your notes.

5. Teens can tell if you’re prepared or not. When you are, it communicates to them that they’re valuable and they will respect you more for it.

6. Teens will take your Bible study time more seriously if they see that you take it seriously first.

7. Parents and students will be more likely to trust your leadership in other areas of the ministry when you prove to be faithful and consistent in this very significant area of ministry.

8. It’s easier to flow off-script with the Holy Spirit’s promptings when you have a clear understanding of your message as a whole.

9. There’s time to promote the lesson and plug it both during private conversations and in public mass communication.

10. It communicates to everyone that God’s Word is important to you and that teaching it is not a privilege you take half-heartedly.


Posted on April 12, 2010

  • I couldn't agree with you more! When we come ill-prepared and not ready, it just furthers the stereotype that youth workers are lazy slackers that just like to play video games. Good reminder!

  • As a speaker for camps, retreats, etc. I'm always preparing messages ahead of time even if I'm not scheduled to speak anywhere. I've learned that when God teaches me a lesson it's also a great opportunity to at least write it down, keep a journal. Many sermons I've preached have come from my personal journal. Second, I think some allow the distractions of everyday tasks as well as social media to interfere with quality time with God in prepping lessons. We can get caught up in the logistical prepping of weekly meeting by putting that above spiritual prepping (making sure the worship team has practiced, supplies have been bought, powerpoints have been created, etc.) And while we're sitting on Facebook for hours while watching the latest episode of Lost to see if they will be found we could be sitting quietly some where prepping lessons. I'm not opposed to watching TV or Facebook, but it comes down to time management as well as what's really important.

    • You're right, we often focus on all the logistical stuff about pulling off a youth meeting and sometimes become content with just teaching a lesson that will suffice rather than taking that divine moment for what it's really worth.

  • I have grown attached to #9. With social networking now, putting little teasers in the newsfeeds and getting the youth to ask questions before they even get there is a great way to stay motivated to prepare a bit more.

    • What I like about it is that it gets the kids thinking about the lesson even before we begin, especially if it's something that addresses a struggle they're going through right now. They'll make it a priority to be there. Or, if they know ahead of time that the lesson will pertain to a friend of theirs, they might take the opportunity to invite them. Otherwise, they'll sit through the lesson and think, "Aww man, I wish I had known this is what we were gonna talk about. My friend really needs to hear this."

  • Amen! #3 is huge for me. Whenever I slack on preparing ahead of time, I inevitably think of great ideas that I don't have time to implement because I've put off planning until the day before.

    If I can add one more, I love including students during teaching time whenever I can. When I plan ahead, I am able to ask a student to prepare a three-minute testimony about how God has worked in his or her life relating to the topic, or I can ask a student to prepare an illustration or activity that is right up his or her alley in terms of gifting.

  • More time for games?

    It would also help discover trends you might be on. Thus, you might be less inclined to find yourself (myself) in a rut.

    Stay blessed…john

  • Pingback: 2 things we often forget about teaching God's Word | Life in Student Ministry()

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  • ossie

    i enjoyed this message bacause it is so true. i cant count the times that i have just skimmed to look for any verse to talk about!!!! haha. thanku for your encouraging points to be better prepared!!!!!

  • I've found that no matter how long I let an idea simmer, I want to change it at the last minute. That's a big part of why getting a head start is so important, there is a better chance you can incorporate new ideas that come. But equally important is is knowing when to finalize the lesson plan so you're not rewriting sections while the students come in. Constant revision can be a sign that you don't trust the lesson, but we aren't supposed to trust the lesson We're supposed to trust the Holy Spirit, and if you've done youth work for a while you know how great the Spirit is at bringing unexpected results from a lesson.

  • trentoncornwell

    These are great tips! I find that nothing seems to be a great source of tension in my home than when I feel unprepared for my teaching responsibilities. It steals time from my kids as I prepare. It steal fellowship with my wife because my mind is preoccupied with the future instead of the present.

  • Tim, I couldn't agree with you more! When we come ill-prepared and not ready, it just furthers the stereotype that youth workers are lazy slackers that just like to play video games. In addition, when we do not prepare well ahead of time, we fail to give our students the best. I had a friend in ministry who would prepare his lesson 1 hour before the meeting each week! It killed me as I watched him twist and turn in his seat stressing to try to come up with something really good for the students. Needless to say, more often than not, he came back frustrated and disappointed because he didn't teach as well as he could have. We owe it to our students, the Lord and ourselves to properly prepare well ahead of time.

  • Your 8th point really connects with me. I a lot of times find that when I speak, I teach students and then learn from my wife. She was a drama and speak major in college and I'm not prepared for a lesson, she knows it and then crucifies me when we get home :). I love learning from her yet hate it at the same time.

    Additionally, I absolutely hate teaching when I know my mind isn't prepared because I feel confined to notes that are half thought out. Regardless of how much I pray that the Holy Spirit will turn me into Billy Graham, most of the time He lets me be me, and fail. Failure is good, but it sucks!

  • As someone who is often guilty of late preparation, I speak not only to you but to myself. It's not shocking news that like in ministry is busy, but does that mean as youth leaders and pastors we can't be organised? I too often find myself throwing a lesson together, then on reflection seeing how I could have done it much better with preparation and how I could have taught my group better. It's something I need to continually be working on and disciplining myself in because my lack of discipline is dishonouring to God, His call on my life and to the young people I'm teaching.

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