SERMON: “InterACTions with the Spiritually Curious”
BIO: Troy Evans planted The Edge Urban Fellowship in Grand Rapids, MI nearly two years ago. Troy describes the church as an urban, hip-hop ministry that is extremely multicultural and multigenerational. 30% of the congregants are new converts and about 35% are de-churched. The church has grown to nearly 200 people. Pastor Troy has been in pastoral ministry for nearly 14 years. When asked what advice he has for preachers, Troy says, “I strongly suggest that you speak from a personal place and not be afraid to share your brokenness with your congregation.”
Lenny: You preached this sermon not in the church you pastor, The Edge, but at Kentwood Community Church, the church that mothered The Edge. Do you think you preached differently as a guest preacher at Kentwood than you preach at The Edge? If so, how and why did you preach differently?
Troy: I typically pull back a little in the way that I would say things for a couple reasons. If I was speaking at The Edge I would look to speak primarily to the hip-hop culture. Though we have a very diverse group, the expectation from the podium is to use slang. Even if some have to ask what I am saying, I still say it with slang. Also just the idea of being in your home church puts a person at ease, in terms of what you can say and how you say it.
Lenny: Let me ask a related follow-up question about preaching context. You and I both preached a few months ago in the chapel services for Indiana Wesleyan University’s Love Revolution Week. While I try to maintain my authentic preaching “voice” no matter where I preach, I also try my best to adjust to the context in which I preach. How do you maintain your authentic identity as a preacher while also making sure you adjust to the preaching context?
Troy: Starting out in the college chapel service, I felt a need to explain that I am a very challenging preacher by nature. I am a straight shooter and I have settled in my mind that maybe people invite me because that’s who I am- a straight shooter.
Lenny: The sermon at Kentwood Community Church was part of a series of sermons preached by a team of people. What are some of the joys and challenges of preaching a sermon as part of a series from a team of preachers?
Troy: I love the collaboration that happens when you can teach as part of a team. At the same time, it is a bit challenging to ensure that you stay in tune with the whole picture of the series as you are preaching your sermon particular sermon.
Lenny: I appreciated the way you consistently stayed with the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian, allowing the biblical story to shape your sermon. When it comes to preaching, how do you make sure that you are faithful to both the biblical text and the contemporary context?
Troy: I believe firmly that the Bible is as relevant today as it was during the time it was written, since God is ultimately the author of Scripture. This means the Bible is not confined to or limited by our time or context. It’s on God’s timeframe that we can see the now, then, and forever simultaneously. With that in mind, I feel that it’s my job to see how the biblical text relates to our contemporary context. It is there, I just need to see how.
Lenny: In your sermon you proclaim that the church should be both missional and attractional. I agree with you that the early church in Acts seems to be both. Do you think preaching can be both missional and attractional? If so, how?
Troy: I think that the Bible is a love story written for both the unbeliever and the believer. I can preach John 3 to those who are in the church and need to grow, while assuring and reaffirming the source of their salvation. At the same time, that same text could connect with the lost and direct them to the cross. I believe that we must approach scripture from the perspective that it is multidirectional in nature- it is both for the believer and the person who has yet to believe in Christ.