Every Sunday night after I preach, I have two thoughts: (1) I can’t believe I get to preach God’s word, and (2) I can’t wait to do it again soon. It’s a delight to have the time to study, think, meditate, apply, craft, and proclaim for the good of our congregation. None of us who preach take it lightly.
By the numbers, I preached the most sermons in 2018 – though less than any previous year (32), followed by Seth Troutt (8), and Josh Watt (5). Another staff pastor, Mark Andress, also preached one week, in addition to five guest speakers (Mike Goheen, Sam Allberry, Jack Debartolo, Tim Kimmel, and Jon Benzinger).
This all adds up to what I think was a strong year of preaching at Redemption Gateway.
10. Chosen for Every Spiritual Blessing (Eph 1:3-4)
This sermon was the first dive into the meat of Ephesians and was a lot of fun. Late in the preparation, I had the idea to see Paul’s 14-verse, 200+ word sentence as something that should be read with the energy of walk-up music. I pitched the idea to our team, and soon our production director had programmed a crazy light show to accompany an Enter Sandman version of reading the passage (begins around 6:50). That idea was a little crazy and a lot of fun, but I think it also set a tone for the incredible blessing that Ephesians 1 was (and is) to our church.
9. Put Off & Put On (Eph 4:17-24)
We spent 8 weeks in the summer looking at the life change created by the gospel. Seth Troutt kicked that section off with a tremendous overview of “putting off” the old self and “putting on” the new. He talked about how without God, we move from being naïve to numb to nihlistic. It was also Seth at his pastoral best, challenging us to address the areas where we’ve become calloused – especially when it comes to sexual sin.
8. One New Man – Part 1 (Eph 2:11-18)
Ephesians led us to push into the need for ethnic/racial unity in the church, which we spent three weeks on. This message was the first of that small mini-series and makes this list because it lays the foundation by helping us see that ethnic/racial unity in the church is a gospel issue. Some people may not like that culturally or politically, but I think this sermon makes the case for it biblically.
7. New Best Friend (John 15:12-17)
In this message, I shared our vision “to become the best friend our community has” and challenged our congregation to abandon cruise-liner Christianity for aircraft-carrier Christianity. A few weeks later, over 650 people accepted that challenge and I’m thankful for the positive feedback I received from people who appreciated the challenge.
6. Dead in Sin (Eph 2:1-3)
This was a bummer of a message. On purpose. In it, I shared how sin is much bigger, deeper, worse, and more devastating than we think. It stands out as well because this was the week before Easter and, in an unprecedented move, we passed out empty communion cups as a symbol of the trouble we’d be in if Christ hadn’t come. That seemed to make an impact and prepared us for a wonderful Easter weekend.
5. Our Friend Jesus (John 15:1-5)
Josh joked in this sermon that this was the most important message from the We Are Here series (he was probably right). But, joking aside, this was my favorite sermon I’ve ever heard Josh preach. He talked about how what our community needs is a needy best friend – so we have to keep abiding in Jesus. It’s a message we never stop needing.
4. Fuse 2018: Never Grow Up (Mark 10:13-16)
Fuse weekend has become one of my favorites of the year, when I preach to the students while everyone else listens in. That alone makes it fun to preach. But this year’s Fuse sermon summarizes a lot of what I learned about prayer – an area where I probably grew more spiritually than anything else in 2018.
3. Spirit-Filled Parents & Kids (Eph 6:1-4)
What a joy it was to have Dr. Tim Kimmel, Executive Director of Family Matters, with us to preach on parenting. It was filled with so much compassion, hope, and help. I think weekly about his statement that most of the teenage years are filled with a desire to avoid embarrassment, and I think it’s helping me be a more connected and empathetic dad.
2. Spiritual Warfare (Eph 6:10-12)
I remember telling Molly on the Sunday night after this sermon that it was as much fun as I’ve ever had preaching. All day I sensed that people were resonating with being in a spiritual battle, and I experienced the Lord’s strength in a tangible way as I preached on being strengthened in the Lord. It was a blast, and continues to be a good reminder to me that I don’t need to dig deep within myself, but rather look to Jesus for help.
1. Why the Christian Sexual Ethic is Beautiful (Matthew 19:1-12)
This was my favorite sermon by a country mile. What a privilege to have Sam Allberry, author of Is God Anti-Gay?, with us this year. He shared about how when he was 18 years old, he fell in love with Jesus and realized he was only attracted to men. How did he deal with that tension? That’s the story he powerfully shares, helping us see that Jesus calls all of us to repent of our sexual sin.
I loved this sermon because it began as an “Isn’t that interesting?” and moved into a “Wow, I needed that!” message. I also love that in a world where so many Christians are caving to worldly pressures and abandoning the Bible’s teaching about homosexuality, this message clearly and compassionately communicates the truth.
Thanks for listening! Please pray for us as we prepare to feed the flock in 2019!