Sermon Title: “Friending”
Preacher: LeAnne Ketcham. LeAnne is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University where she won the annual preaching award as an undergraduate. This sermon was preached during her tenure on pastoral staff at Grove Church in Fort Collins, CO. LeAnne and her husband, Andrew, now reside in Princeton, NJ—where LeAnne is attending Princeton Theological Seminary on a full tuition scholarship.
Here at Wesleyansermons.com, we love featuring preachers whose paradigms are replication-worthy. Through “Friending,” LeAnne Ketcham provides us with some replication-worthy perspectives. Watch the sermon directly to pick out your own themes, or listen to it over our shoulders with the themes below. Sometimes the best way to sharpen preaching is to listen to preachers you don’t normally hear.
- Media is Relevant to the focus of the sermon: LeAnne uses media for the sake of driving the sermon forward. As soon as the video clip stops rolling, LeAnne ties it into her sermon’s trajectory. Instead of using media as a mere attention-grabber, Ketcham uses a video to make the sermon be even more memorable to the congregation. Most of us focus on sermons as relevance-to-culture tools. But sermons need to be relevance-to-scripture tools more than the other way around. If it doesn’t fit hand-in-glove with your sermonic aim, skip it.
- Digging is Important: “Just 20 years ago, the average American had five close friends. Now, the average American has only two close friends. Research provides us with three reasons why.” Throughout the sermon, Ketcham provides ample research to help us identify our culture’s friendship weakness. In preparing the sermon, LeAnne has done both ancient and modern sermonic archaeology: digging up ancient exegetical artifacts (like the details of Rehoboam’s life) and modern artifacts (like cultural studies on friendships). LeAnne’s cultural awareness demonstrates awareness of the way God’s purposes intersect with our lives. It also helps establish her authority and credibility as a preacher.
- Phrases are Sticky: “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future.” As we walk away from this message, it’s hard not to remember LeAnne’s words. Throughout the sermon, she uses artfully crafted phrases that make the message unforgettable. During sermon preparation, she’s taken time to wordsmith her message, weaving together statements that “stick” in the minds of the congregation. This is perhaps her greatest strength. She’s an artisan with nouns, verbs, and gerunds.
- Application is Interwoven: “In a world where you can be anywhere else, you need to be present. Unplug the phone and leave it in the car.” LeAnne’s application points are her sermon points—and they’re easily memorable. Congregants walk away knowing exactly what to do, because that’s what the sermon’s about. Because LeAnne intertwines exegesis and application, the audience knows the Gospel’s implications before the end of the message. Many listeners can only hold on for 5-7 minutes without clear, relevant, moving connection with their every day lives. When I teach preaching students I often call this the “seven minute itch.” Some people’s attention will start to itch as early as four or five minutes into a section of sermon content. Everyone’s will itch by minute seven. Don’t wait twenty minutes to bring homiletical ideas down to the formational ground.
- Stillness is Powerful: LeAnne stays put. Rather than frenetically pacing around the stage, LeAnne’s lower body remains rooted and listeners remain focused. Her upper-body movements correspond with the content of her message; her lower-body stillness allows listeners to connect with her. Ketcham’s posture (in sync with her purposeful upper-body movement) allows listeners to feel the sermon without being distracted by unnecessary gestures. The pacing of a lion in the cage. The frantic sprinkler like torso turn. The wildly waving arms. All of these are distractions from the point, not ways to emphasize the point. For pacing, waving preachers rooting the feet for one point is often a spiritual discipline in itself.
- The News is Good: “If we get our friendships right, we’ll set ourselves up for a lifetime of success…we want you to have friends that will be in your life to stay—friends who go through the decades with you, not just months.” LeAnne’s tone, posture, and message communicate God’s capacity for creating beautiful new possibilities. As listeners, we walk away from LeAnne’s message knowing God cares about our friendships: and we can have the right ones if we surround ourselves with the right people. You might have noticed this theme in sermons we’ve been highlighting lately. Wesleyans get a bad rap for being “legalistic” or “moralistic” or “self righteous.” It’s not that this doesn’t happen, it just isn’t the style of the best Wesleyan preachers. The best Wesleyan preachers gospel people rather than merely guilting people.
- Next Sunday, commit to keeping gestures purposeful: removing unnecessary “stage-laps,” and including purposeful hand gestures that communicate alongside our message.
- As we write our next sermons, let’s commit to remember that the Gospel’s both “Good” and “News”: it really does open up new possibilities, and those possibilities really do enrich the lives of the hearers. May we never forget either; and may we always communicate that message in our words and tone—just as LeAnne did.
- As we select sermon resources, let’s keep our media relevant. If we’re just including a video to get attention, let’s pick something different. If we think something won’t fit into the direction of our sermon, let’s choose the harder road: selecting relevant media that communicates alongside our sermons.