Sermon Title: “You Can Begin Again”
Preacher: Kevin Fetterhoff. Pastor Kevin is the lead pastor at Bethany Wesleyan Church in Cherryville, Pennsylvania. BWC is a thriving congregation, intimately invested in the life of their members and the surrounding community. Churches often thrive when preaching thrives. We feature sermons at Wesleyansermons.com because we think featured preachers get something “right” in their preaching. A preacher’s communication habits reflect their life perspective: so in this article, we’ll feature some of Kevin’s replication-worthy paradigms.
Kevin Shows Us That:
- Biblical Context is Relatable: Kevin introduces the sermon by talking about Peter’s cultural context. Obviously, Pastor Kevin’s done his homework; just as importantly, he thinks these ancient Near Eastern events have something to do with us. Throughout the message, Pastor Kevin uses exegesis to serve application. The sermon reflects that Peter is like us; he faces pressures and temptations like we do—he’s in need of grace like we are. If you think of the context then and the context now like two prongs of steel, pastor Kevin has crafted them to be a tuning fork. He oscillates back and forth between the then and the relevant now creating resonance in our spirits with the application made. If it was applicable then, and it still rings directly true now, we know we have tapped into something with staying power worth listening to.
- New Beginnings are Everywhere: God’s world is full of grace-laden new starts. Pastor Kevin gives vignettes about Biblical characters that exemplify the grace of new beginnings: David, Moses, and Peter, to name a few. New beginnings in God’s Word help us see new beginnings in God’s world—we need only look for them. God’s transformational power can bring about dramatic change: Fetterhoff encourages us to see Him in His re-creative work. God didn’t stop working on day six. “My father is always working, and so am I” Jesus said. If we aren’t careful our preaching makes it sound like God did something in creation, let us go our own way until Christ’s redemption, and is now waiting again until resurrection. Preaching has to, even in its subtle commitments, keep God’s work first and primary, our response second and secondary.
- Holiness is Practical: “Mentors and support groups bring reformation; Jesus brings transformation.” Pastor Kevin points to the necessity of both elements without disparaging either of them. Kevin’s view of holiness is not “pie in the sky, by and by.” It’s a real thing: God’s grace affects how we work, how we live, and even how we pay our taxes. Yet God’s grace usually does this through every day relationships and structural support for our pursuit of holiness. And when holiness is realistic, it is a chance to live out God’s redemptive work through even our most mundane tasks.
- The Gospel is Good News: “I hope today can be the day when you see—with God’s help—new horizons.” Kevin explicitly states what his tone and demeanor implicitly express. Throughout the sermon, Fetterhoff makes it clear that the Gospel opens new possibilities for our lives. Faith is an opportunity to see the world with Christ-colored lenses: not glancing over harsh realities, but seeing hope through the dim circumstances of this world. God has invited us into an adventure; and the journey is exciting. When preaching leaves us with downcast eyes and slumped shoulders we eventually start to dread church for good reason. Only unhealthy people enjoy a good dose of that every week. Gospel-ing people through preaching lifts the head, lightens the shoulders, and does so without making everything okay. Conviction isn’t absent, it simply isn’t the last word. The idea of “new possibilities” implies some less than idea past or present. Good news always assumes bad news, there’s no need to overemphasize the bad.
- The Audience is Responsible: “The only way we get help is to acknowledge we’ve had a problem. We have to own the fact: ‘I did that. That’s me.’” Kevin helps us realize that the Gospel has implications. While sin derails our life, God offers opportunities for restoration. As we navigate the world, we know we’ll encounter failure; but Kevin reminds us of the need to allow God to restore our failure rather than believing we are our failure: “You don’t slash the other three tires because you blew one out.” Altogether, Kevin helps us (as listeners) to recognize our responsibility to partner with God in His restorative work. Kevin anticipates the different life circumstances the congregation is in: some of them are in literal prison—watching by video. Others are seemingly free, but inhabit a prison of their own making. Regardless of outer circumstance, Fetterhoff reminds us of Christ’s offer of truest freedom.
- If you were to pick one of these paradigms that your congregation is likely to recognize in you, which would it be? If you were to pick one that they might smile, even laugh at, saying “that’s not our pastor” which would it be?
- It may be worthwhile to listen to one of your most recent sermons and scale yourself from 1-10 on these paradigms.