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High School Festival: Preaching

young man preaching

The High School Festival helps high school young men develop their ability to communicate God’s Word clearly and effectively.

Sermon Preparation Guidelines

You should prepare a 10- to 12-minute expository sermon from one of the New Testament epistles. Your text should consist of one paragraph from one of the letters. For help selecting your text please read How to Select a Preaching Text (part 1, part 2) by our coordinator, Dr. Kerry McGonigal.

In general your main points and any subpoints should come directly from your preaching text or the immediate context. Any cross references should be employed to shed light on the primary point of your preaching text. The sermon will be evaluated on the basis of content and delivery, the heavier weight being given to content.

You may use an outline when preaching. The sermon should be well prepared but not memorized word for word.


  • The opportunity to preach God’s Word
  • Helpful feedback from members of the School of Religion and Seminary faculty

Helpful Hints

  • Keep in mind that we are not looking for the “perfect” sermon. Can you stand up in front of a group of people and with some degree of confidence and clarity say what God has said in His Word? That’s what we’re looking for.
  • Do not view the this as a contest. Work hard to grow in your ability to communicate God’s Word and avoid the temptation to compare yourself with others.
  • We do not assume that every participant has the same level of preaching experience, giftedness, sense of calling to the ministry, and preaching style. Our desire is to work with you where you are and take you to the next level.
  • Pay attention to the comments and suggestions the faculty give you, especially repeated ones.

Sermon Presentation Helps

  • Biblical content of message. The primary task of the preacher is to be faithful in saying what God said. If you need help understanding any of the Bible verses you are preaching from, consult someone you know and trust, like a Bible teacher or pastor.
  • Appropriate illustrations. Illustrations are powerful tools to help your audience see and feel the truth. Be sure to incorporate some stories or analogies in your sermon.
  • Appropriate application. Think about your target audience as you prepare. Don’t be content just to read or deliver the information to your listeners. Pray that God would transform those who hear the preached Word.
  • Personal appearance. Some participants wear coats and ties. Others go business causal. Regardless, make sure your appearance complements (and doesn’t distract from) the message you are preaching.
  • Facial expressions/gestures. Sometimes we think we are more expressive than we actually are. Consider preaching your message in another context before sumbitting so you can get feedback from others on how you are coming across.
  • Eye contact. Eye contact is important for communicating sincerity and authority./li>
  • Grammar/pronunciation. Take the time to look up words you don’t know and find out how to pronounce them. Have someone, like an English teacher, look over your written sermon to spot any grammatical problems.
  • Voice variety. Vocal variety is an aid to communicating the truth. No one likes to hear someone speak in a monotone voice for any length of time. So be aware of your pitch, rate, volume and use of pause.
  • Considerate of time. You have 10–12 minutes to preach your message. Be sure to plan and practice enough to fit comfortably into those time constraints.
  • Enthusiasm and authority. Be passionate about your message and make sure it’s based on God’s Word. If you are preaching the Bible, God is speaking, and when God speaks He speaks with authority.

Video Submission Guidelines

  • Your video submission should be uploaded to YouTube as an “unlisted” video. Submit the direct link to the video on your registration form. (Test your unlisted video link by logging out of YouTube and accessing the link.)
  • The YouTube video should be labeled in this format: John Smith - Smith Homeschool - Passage Reference
  • Ensure your submission has good audio and video quality.
  • The video recording must have been made no earlier than July 1, 2020.
  • The video should be recorded in one unedited take from one camera angle.
  • Do not include fade-outs or video transitions.
  • No sound editing is allowed. The recording must be honest and acoustic. As much as possible, it needs to be as if the viewer was in the room listening to you preach.
  • The video should be in the spirit of a live preaching event. It may be shot in a home, school, church, recital hall, or some other appropriate location, with or without an audience.
  • You are required to introduce yourself and your passage at the start of the video—either verbally or with a title slide. This introductory portion of the video entry must be limited to the following: Preacher name - Organization/School name - Passage Reference
  • Once a video is submitted, no substitutions will be allowed.

Video submission questions can be directed to the Welcome Center