10 Simple Steps to Deliver a Powerful 5 Minute Devotional

They’re looking at you…

–But only for 5 minutes. How can you say something brief, meaningful yet powerful? This is a skill that seasoned youth workers have finely tuned. Let me share 10 simple steps from Ken Davis (best selling author of How to Speak to Youth and keep them awake at the same time) that will take your talks from okay to exceptional!

Here are Ken Davis’ simple but effective steps!


1. Begin by examining yourself.

What can you speak about with integrity?  What has the Lord taught you in the last 6 months?  What are some of the key truths that you live by from day to day?  What Scriptures verses are special to you?  Have you experienced a certain Biblical truth in a new way recently?

2. Now examine the group.

What would a group of students be interested in hearing? What questions would they want answered? What issues are they grappling with spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically?  What concerns would a typical group of students their age be facing?  What specific issues would teens relate to?

3. Find a SUBJECT that fits into both categories above.

Do you have adequate information about the subject?  What does the Bible say?  Which verse is the one that you would like to use in the message? Is this the best verse or story? Is there a better one?

4. What is the CENTRAL THEME you will be addressing?

Is this the exact aspect of the subject that you wanted to speak about? Does another verse deal with it better? In other words… what do you want to say about what you want to say!

5. Construct Your OBJECTIVE.

All of us should/can _____________________________________ because/by___________________________KEY WORD _____________________________.

Example All of us can experience God by taking these 3 COURAGEOUS STEPS tonight.

6. Develop your RATIONALE.

This is directly related to the key word from your objective.  If you chose the key word to be the ONE COURAGEOUS STEP, each point must take the form of a STEP.  If you specified that they are commands of Christ then each one must be a COMMAND made by Jesus. (Sounds simple but this is where a lot of talks fall apart. The rationale doesn’t hold together.) Construct your devotional around these points (i.e. steps, commands, rules, principles.)

(SOME PEOPLE HAVE JUST ONE POINT AND PROVE IT OR STRESS IT 2 OR 3 WAYS) Remember this is a five minute message.  Your points and reasoning must be straightforward, without extensive arguments, proofs and sub points. (You may have one point and 3 REASONS (key word) why every Christian respond to that point.)

7. Explain and illustrate using RESOURCES. 

The devotional is a black and white photo until you supply the color, animation, and sound effects. Short, sharp images, word pictures, and concise stories that your audience will enjoy and relate to help get your point across. Caution: resources are not the objective- don’t bend your objective to fit your “really cool” story.

8. Develop an Outline:

The format in five minutes or fifty seldom changes. You must

  • Introduce your objective.
  • Deliver the body of your message, and
  • Have a clear, compelling conclusion.

Within the body of the message you should have explanation, illustration, and application of each point. (No small task when it must be said in only 5 minutes.)[see p. 41-75 in HOW TO SPEAK TO YOUTH –Ken Davis.]

 9. Write a word-for-word transcript then reduce it to notes.

This takes discipline. You must commit your words to paper. However, write it the way that you plan to share it.  Tailor it for the group.  Short punchy sentences are normally better than long complicated ones.  Avoid slang, but also avoid sounding like a theology text book.  As you write, imagine yourself in front of the group. Read each line out loud after it is written. How would the group react?

Be as natural as possible. Imagine that you are counseling a friend or trying to persuade someone of your opinion. It is great if you can know you devotional so well that you don’t even need your notes. (some people like cue cards or put a single sheet tucked into a small bible. Check the timing that it is only 5 minutes. No more, no less.

10. Share your Devotional.

At the time of delivery concentrate on the message you are about to share. The fear of man is a snare- don’t get caught in it. Remember if it is a small group- don’t shout. Speak to them convincingly. Keep their interest. Make direct eye contact with every person in the room many times in the five minutes. Don’t spaz out on them and get overly emotional.

  • Trust God that his word is effective.
  • Leave the results to Him.
  • Get feedback later and improve each time that you speak.
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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email ron.powell@vanguardcollege.com