Thrive – Risk | Rev. John Lewis

Sermon Title: THRIVE: Risk

Preacher: John Lewis, Pastor of Servants of Christ in La Plata, MD. Servants of Christ is an affiliate of the New Life Wesleyan Church in La Plata. Pastor John started ministry by street preaching, ministering to the homeless, and engaging in prison ministry.

Sermon Link:

Reasons this Sermon Was Highlighted:

  1.  John Engages Testimony:  As John surveys a Scriptural story he encourages listeners to survey their own stories. John recognizes that the congregation and the Gospel are each writing stories. John encourages the congregation to graft their stories into the larger picture of Christ’s works in the world. God is not a story, but humans often think clearest in story formats so this helps the human connect with the divine.
  2. John Does His Homework: John presents information behind the text: geography, history, original languages, Scripture parallels, and even feelings of the characters. His materially is rich, but his sermon doesn’t preach like a commentary. John’s homework it allows him to speak from Scripture’s context into ours: Philistine garrisons are “special ops soldiers,” Armor bearers are brotherly golf caddies, and the missional mindset is akin to being “on board” with a family budget plan. Though any metaphor breaks down if pressed too far, John’s familiarity with both Scripture and culture helps listeners connect both Gospel to application.
  3. John Purposefully Emphasizes Key Words: The audience knows what’s important because John slows down, changes tone and pace and therefore emphasizes the most important words the clearest. He has consistent energy, but he directs the energy towards a destination. This forward movement, and purposeful use of performative elements goes a long way toward clearing out the mental clutter every lister struggles through during a sermon.
  4. John Uses Humor: Rather than making humor the main course, John uses humor to “season” his sermon. After making a historical reference, he brings history to life with playful comments and wit. This reengages listeners who may have “tuned out” during background information about the text. This use of humor helps build preaching credibility without becoming a distraction.
  5. John Invites Everyone: “You don’t have to be good looking; you don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to have money. You have to have the courage to do the right thing when nobody else will.” John recognizes the Gospel’s universal call to redemption, and proclaims the invitation to participate.
  6. John Addresses Contemporary Issues:John addresses racial tension, economic struggle, and workplace integrity. He speaks the Gospel’s message of racial, ethnic, and economic reconciliation, boldly addressing contemporary society’s oversight: “There’s no one race that has cornered the market on bad people. Anything that tries to separate us is not of God.”
  7. John uses memorable phrases with theological depth. Depth does not necessarily mean complexity. Sometimes the deepest truths are communicated in the simplest ways. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is a scriptural example. If you read back through this review or listen to John’s sermon following the link above you’ll notice that a lot of what we love of John’s preaching comes through in tightly woven, well worded phrases.

Follow-up Exercises:

  • John encouraged the Church to be brave together. After listening to this sermon, think of ways your local church can love more audaciously.
  • What need can your church courageously meet for your community?
  • How can you be braver in your walk with Jesus and love for others?
  • Which of John’s greatest preaching qualities do you want to work on?

This review contributed by Ethan Linder, Staff Writer for

Ethan is a staff writer for A fresh graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, Ethan and his wife Sarah currently live in Marion, Indiana–where Ethan is pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Christian Ministries from IWU, and Sarah is a teacher. When he’s not writing, Ethan enjoys reading, listening to music, studying cultures, running, and following the Philadelphia Phillies. Follow Ethan on Facebook and Twitter.

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