Church-goers still love a good sermon, as long as the preacher stresses content over comedy – a survey published today reveals.
Carried out in advance of Christian Resources Exhibition International (ExCeL, London 17-20 May) by Christian Research, the survey of 1800 church-goers discovered that almost nine out of 10 (88 per cent) disagree or strongly disagree that the idea of a sermon being preached in church each week is outdated.
But when asked what they wanted to see most in a sermon, men in particular (49 per cent) most wanted to hear biblical exposition (women 39 per cent). Women wanted to hear even more practical application (44 per cent) than men (36 per cent). A sense of humour is only perceived as important by two per cent and personal anecdotes by one per cent.
The age of the rambling sermon is over, too. The most common sermon lasts between 10 and 20 minutes (44 per cent). Only 15 per cent of sermons last more than 30 minutes and only one in 10 think a sermon should last any longer than that.
The survey comes in advance of the first Sermon of the Year competition at CRE, often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’.
The competition, inaugurated by the London School of Theology (LST) and Preach Magazine, aims to unearth the preachers of tomorrow. The finals will be held on Fri 20 May, the last day of the show.
Under 21 finalist Phil Hutch is 17 years old and currently studying for A Levels. He grew up in China and Hong Kong, but moved to the UK when he was ten. Well known in local schools, he was elected Youth Mayor of Derby last year.
The other under 21 finalist is Jess Mackin, 16, from West London. Jess entered the competition ‘to test out her sermon-writing skills’ and because she was intrigued by the idea of a reason for hope – the theme of the competition.
Hutch and Mackin have recorded their sermons on video as both are taking exams on the day of the competition!
Preach Magazine editor Jo Swinney said: ‘We want the competition to help our nation’s preachers consider their craft and raise their game.’
The winners will be awarded resources and the opportunity to access free study at LST. They will also be mentored in their ministries.
Matt Adcock, director of communications at LST, said: ‘Preaching is a key element of life and study at LST. Sermon of the Year is a great opportunity for young preachers to share and develop their skills with a new audience and we’re excited to be championing the art of sermon preaching.’
Finalists in the 21 and over category, Natalie Collins and Siku, will preach to a panel and a live audience at ExCeL.
Natalie Collins, a gender justice specialist, runs Spark, a consultancy to enable individuals and organisations prevent and respond to male violence against women. A survivor of extreme domestic abuse herself, she is director of the DAY Programme, a youth domestic abuse education programme. She is also a founding member of the Christian Feminist Network collective.
Siku is an artist, author, theologian, musician and one of Britain’s leading comic book creators/concept artists. He has been experimenting with narrative preaching (preaching while painting) and is creator of the Manga Bible.
At CRE International, often dubbed the ‘ideal church show’, more than 300 organisations are will display everything from sound systems to stained glass, pews to puppets. Some 100 practical and resourcing seminars are scheduled along with some of the best in Christian theatre and music.
* CRE International takes place at ExCeL, London, Tue 17 – Fri 20 May 2016.
* For opening hours and tickets visit www.creonline.co.uk or phone 01793 418218.