Mike Pilavachi: Preaching to Young People

Mike Pilavachi

These are sermon notes taken from Mike Pilavachi’s sermon: Preaching to Young People. Given at Westminster Chapel on the 25th May 2015. I have listened to this sermon and these are my notes, I am not claiming right over the source from which they were taken. Nor do I claim that the phrases used were exactly put that way by Mike Pilavachi. In the process of taking these notes, I may have misinterpreted what he said. (Please don’t sue me!). Also there were a lot of examples that Pilavachi used which were really funny, and demonstrated his points, I have not included them. 


  • What do we mean by “youth”? We must understand that there are a lot of sub-cultures within that term.
  • This applies to regular preaching to adults.


Content vs Engagement

Both are very important, however content remains the same regardless whilst presentation will sometimes have to change. Therefore we need to look at both, and get both right. If we have amazing content – good doctrine ect – yet no engagement they won’t understand it (it will be useless information). On the other hand if we have great presentation – engaging using all different forms of media etc – but the gospel isn’t there they won’t have enough information to make a decision (the cross won’t be communicated).

How do we present the amazing truths of the gospel in a way that the younger generation can understand and respond to?


  1. We have to preach in the context of relationship.

We must genuinely love them, because they can detect this when it is there and when it is missing. Pray that God will enable us to see them how He sees them.

How do we express our love and vulnerability to young people?

  • Authentically
  • Personal
  • 2 Cor “you have 10,000 teachers, but no fathers”. Let us ask God to give us a Father heart for the young people. Around father’s children grow. God has to give us this heart.


  1. Planned Spontaneity

Young people want to feel that “this isn’t scripted in advance this is personal to me” and “this is something we can get involved in”. What does this look like?

  • To plan and prepare what you will say so thoroughly that you are comfortable with spontaneity/audience participation.
  • We are not trying to change the outcome of the teaching, teach whatever they want.
  • Learning how to go on a tangent, where you are not in control, and then bringing it back. This is a skill which we will need to develop.
  • g: pointing out that someone is late…playing off the response (playfully); noticing if people are talking (playfully)…it may backfire but be comfortable.


  1. Up to a point tell your story, as it relates to His story

It needs to be how it relates to His story and the Bible’s story. Be vulnerable and weak. The danger is we end up pointing more at ourselves rather than Him. Let us not get in the way.

  • Tell your story, or others’ story…this earths the Bible in real life.
  • It also builds relationship


  1. Model your journey of discovering scripture in the way you teach*

So many young people are scared of the Bible, and intimidated by it. We are not just teaching the Bible, but teaching how to read the Bible.

  • How do you handle footnotes?
  • Where do you get answers from your questions from?
  • What questions do you have as you read scripture? Is it okay to have questions? Is it okay not to understand everything?


  1. Speak their language

Understand their culture. Our model for this is Jesus Christ, who came and spoke in Aramaic the language of the people (rather than Hebrew the language of the elite). He used parables that were relevant to their culture.

Saying this, it is more important that we are authentic rather than relevant. There will be elements of their culture that you don’t understand.

But as our hearts grow towards them, we will want to learn more about them. We can bridge the gap.


  1. Practical Outworking/Response

How will they respond? We don’t always need to do BIG altar calls, sometimes more specific less broad, will have a greater impact. Do we call for practical responses, or super spiritual ones?

Where else in the secular world do we see similar models to preaching? (i.e 40 minutes non-stop speaking)

  • Politician – stirring people up to x,y,z…
  • College lecturer – teach people
  • Stand up comedian – holds an audience with humour

Which category do we fall into? Are we willing to lean into other styles? Consider the advantages of each. There needs to be an element of all three, not always in equal measure. The most important thing is that we are

  • Real (authentic)
  • Passionate
  • Loving

*Styles of Teaching

  • One verse

Just one line at a time, how easy it is to understand the Bible, how much you can get out of one verse.

  • Stories from Bible

They can act it out, make it funny e.g. have arsenal supporters as pigs in the prodigal son, or having a girl as the father and boy as the lost son “hugged and kissed his son”. They will remember it.

  • Explain the study

Point out the footnotes (when useful)…Explain how the internet can be a great tool for Bible reading. That you don’t have to understand everything, not even Greek and Hebrew to get something out of the Bible. Model how you deal with questions (asking people, checking online)

  • Big Verses/Passages
  • Theme/Topic

Final Thoughts:

  • When we talk about tough issues such as the topic of homosexuality/celibacy/marriage etc, let’s major on the positive of God’s plan – the positive of God’s way.
  • Preaching and worship: How does the worship song/time hammer in the truths of sermons. These are the things they will sing.

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