From Academic Kids

For other uses, see Sermon (disambiguation)

A sermon is an oration by a prophet or member of the clergy. Sermons address a biblical, theological, or religious topic, usually expounding on a type of belief or law (preaching).


The delivery of sermons

Sermons are usually, but not always, delivered in a house of worship, most of which have a pulpit or ambo, an elevated architectural feature from which sermons are given. Sermons are occasionally known as homilies, especially in the Roman Catholic Church and similar traditions. The word "sermon" comes from a Middle English word which was derived from an Old French term, which in turn came from the Latin word sermō; ("discourse").

In modern language, the word "sermon" can also be used pejoratively in secular terms to describe a a lengthy or tedious speech delivered with great passion to a disinterested audience. A sermonette is a short sermon.

Famous preachers of sermons

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The most famous sermon is probably the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus of Nazareth. This sermon was probably delivered around 30 CE and is accounted by the Gospel of Matthew as being delivered on a mount on the north end of the Sea of Galilee, near Capernaum. Some modern biblical scholars believe that Jesus did not actually give the speech as is traditionally thought, and that the sermon was instead complied later from precepts said by Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount lays out the core principals of Christianity. During the later history of Christianity, several figures became known for their sermons or a particularly significant sermon. Sermonizers of the early church include Saint Stephen, Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Gregory Nazianzus. Sermons in this era were used to spread Christianity across Europe and Asia Minor. During the Middle Ages sermons were used to start new religious orders (Dominic, Francis of Assisi). Pope Urban II began the First Crusade at November 1095 Council of Clermont in France when he exhorted French knights to retake the Holy Land in Palestine.

The sermon takes center stage in Protestantism

Later the Reformation led to Protestant sermons, many of which defended the schism with the Roman Catholic Church and explained new beliefs on scripture and devotion. Since the distinctive doctrines of Protestantism held that salvation was by faith alone, and convincing people to believe the Gospel and place trust in God for their salvation through Jesus Christ was the decisive step in salvation, in Protestantism the sermon and hymn came to replace the Eucharist as the central act of Christian worship. To rouse deeper faith in the churchgoers, rather than have them partake in a ritual, was the goal of Protestant worship conditioned by these beliefs.

In the 1700s and 1800s during the Great Awakening, major sermons were made a revivals, which were especially popular in the United States. These sermons were noted for their harsh "fire-and-brimstone" message, typified by Jonathan Edwards's famous "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" speech.

Notable preachers of sermons

Many sermons have been written down, collected and published. Such sermons include John Wesley's 53 Standard Sermons, John Chrysostom's Homily on the Resurrection (preached every Easter in Orthodox churches) and Gregory Nazianzus' homily "On the Theophany, or Birthday of Christ" (preached every Christmas in Orthodox churches).

Types of sermons

There are a number of different types of preaching, that differ both by their subject matter and by their intended audience. Not all types of preaching are within the gift of every preacher. These types of preaching include:

Delivery methods

Sermons also differ on the amount of preparation used to prepare them.

Sermons and sexual psychology

In addition, numerous studies have been done on sermons and their connection to other topics such as psychology, linguistics, and gender. One such example is Frances Lee Smith's "The Pulpit and Woman's Place: Gender and the Framing of the 'Exegetical Self' in Sermon Performances," published in Framing in Discourse.

See also

External links

  • Sermon Central ( -- an online sermon archive.
  • Sermons Online ( -- tools for publishing sermons on your church web



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