When’s a sermon not a sermon?

At the risk of approaching preaching relying on Aristotle’s theory of universals

What are the core, tangible elements that every Christian sermon must have for it to be a Christian sermon? 

Here’s what we can agree on:

1. A preacher

2. An audience

Everything else is debatable. (apparently)

Strong contenders include: the name (or other title) of Jesus, explicit use of the bible, a call for repentance and an opening gag.

I’m looking at the content of the apostle’s proclamations at the moment (their kerygma *from the greek!). I’ll get back to you with what they had in common.


5 Responses to When’s a sermon not a sermon?

  1. Ben says:

    I’ve never heard a sermon which uses the Bible or references to Jesus any other way than explicitly. Perhaps that speaks more of my SydAng heritage, but I can’t really imagine a sermon where those things don’t happen.

    I am not a fan of the opening gag, though. Especially if it comes from the Internet.

  2. lukewoodhouse says:

    But you go to a great Church Ben!

    It’s odd though, as I was compiling my checklist of elements (see post), every time I went to add a core element, I was reminded of a particular debate. Thus crossing off that particular element from the list.

    “It’s too rigid to say that you need Jesus name in every sermon”
    “Why do you have to reference or quote the bible, why can’t you just preach it’s message”

    (Of course I *do* think the list is larger than the one I listed in the post, but more on that later)

    A kid’s talk is a great example. With the exception of memory verses, bible references or quotes are rarely used. Also, depending on the talk, Jesus won’t always get a mention. So is a kid’s talk a form of a Christian sermon? If so, why? If not, what is it? Just a talk?

  3. Annie says:

    I’d venture to say every sermon needs to contain both law and grace. Law, to make us aware of our need for a savior, and grace, or gospel, showing us God’s undeserved favour towards us.

    You don’t necessarily have to quote scripture verbatim if the ideas you speak are scriptural.

    But then I’m a newcomer to these Sydney Anglican circles! What do I know?

  4. lukewoodhouse says:

    Hi Annie,
    Welcome to the circle!
    Yeah, they’re good points. In broad categories, I think every sermon needs to reveal something about who we are and something about who God is and what he has done. John Calvin says something similar at the beginning of his Institutes of the Christian Religion.


  5. Donna says:

    Hi Luke, I found my way here from another blog.

    I can’t think of a (non-heretical) sermon which has not mentioned God. I can think of a few that haven’t explicitly mentioned Jesus, but it’s hard to escape talking about at least one aspect of God if you are a “preacher”. Otherwise, you’re just a speaker…

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