Pastor Kyle Ray is the senior pastor of Kentwood Community Church in a suburb of Grand Rapids. A growing church, Kentwood Community Church has also planted X churches over the past two decades. When Wayne Schmidt hired Kyle Ray he saw a potential successor in that hired. Kyle’s leadership and preaching quickly emerged as confirmation of that intuition.
Here are some of the reasons we highlighted this sermon by Kyle Ray:
1. Holiday Preaching is difficult to keep fresh. This sermon was preached on one of the most difficult days to preach: Father’s Day. Father’s Day and Mother’s Day are perennial challenges to pastors. Anyone can preach on that day a few times. Preaching on those days 15 times at the same church starts to feel like the move Groundhog day. Didn’t I just preach this last year? Kyle’s sermon takes a fresh look at issues that connect with Father’s day but broadly embrace the entire congregation with the theme “Will You Step Up?”
2. This sermon combines compassion and conviction. Kyle deeply expresses empathy through his multiple vignettes of suffering in this sermon. Yet at the same time his compassion never softens his conviction. The repeated challenge to step up to the challenge of faith in the face of suffering is never muted by compassion, only softened. As a listener, I felt Kyle earned the right to convict me through his difficult work at compassion.
3. This sermon addresses a broad range of spiritual maturity. Kyle Ray is clearly aware that each row of seats in his sanctuary represents a wide diversity of maturity. Some simply do not understand suffering at all, and raise their fists at the sky. Others have been in the faith for decades and have answers that are growing thin. The seeker found a point of contact, the believer found a point of challenge.
4. This sermon uses the podium for leadership. This can go well, it can go poorly. Most preachers use the leadership value of the pulpit poorly because they use it only unintentionally or impromptu. This sermon has carefully planned moments of pastoral leadership that guide the congregation, not only form it.
5. This sermon is quotable. That may seem a small point, but we don’t want our listeners struggling to remember what we said on Sunday by Monday morning, let alone the next week. Here are some quotes you can listen for in context: “When life is hard, and things happen that you can’t control. How will you respond? Will you run away or will you step up?” “We may not understand what happens to us, but we can always be on the lookout for what God wants to do through us.”
6. This sermon avoids typical Father’s day pitfalls. Kyle doesn’t guilt fathers for what they aren’t doing. Kyle doesn’t pretend every father is perfect. Kyle catches that Father’s day is painful for many people. Kyle doesn’t pretend he is the model for men or fathers, or that he has all the answers for life’s tough questions.
If you could ask Kyle Ray questions about this sermon, or preaching in general, what questions would you ask?