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Who Writes the Best Sermons?

Who writes the best sermons? Besides me?

No, that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m not asking which person writes the best sermons; rather, which group or denomination does. Is it the Baptists, Presbyterians, preachers from the nondenominational Christian Church, Church of Christ, Catholic, Methodists, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, etc.?  

I have a unique perspective into this. Eleven years ago, I helped create and lead the largest sermon website in the world (SermonCentral.com). The site began because we believed there were a lot of good preachers we could learn from who weren’t famous. We also believed we could learn from preachers in other denominations.

During the five years I worked with the website, preachers submitted over 100,000 sermons. They came from hundreds of different denominations and non-denominations. Each sermon was searchable by scripture and topic. Each sermon was voted on by the 250,000 weekly users of the site. Our rating system was based on this question: “Was this sermon helpful to you?” The sermons sorted themselves out, with the best rising to the top of the search results.

After some time, I wondered if our diverse user base had elevated a particular denomination above the rest. I looked at thousands of sermons covering hundreds of topics and scriptures, and the conclusion was obvious—but allow me to delay sharing that conclusion with you for just a moment.

First, I’d like to share with you the most common email I received from users of the site. Some wrote only a few sentences and some went for pages, but they all said something like this: “I’ve been using this site for a few months now. I used to think my group was the most biblical one. But I have been helped so much by pastors who aren’t from my tradition. Their commitment to the Bible, to Jesus, to truth and to grace has blown me away. I was ignorant and arrogant. I asked God to forgive me today, and I just needed to tell you.”

Some of the pastors revealed they were brought to tears in their repentance. Their humility and confession brought me to tears too. It was and is the thing I’m most proud of in leading that site.

So back to the original question: “Which group or denomination wrote the most helpful sermons?”  The conclusion: no one group did. There were a few dozen individuals who showed up consistently, who were all from different branches of Christianity.

Here’s the point: If you think a certain Christian group (like yours) has a corner on the best preaching, you are mistaken. There are many biblical and relevant preachers in virtually every group. They are spread throughout the Body of Christ. And if we humble ourselves, we may learn that we have something to learn from them. 

(Image by Hunter McGee via CreationSwap.com: a site with free church graphics shared by thousands of Christian artists around the world.)

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Brian Mavis leads Community Transformation at LifeBridge Christian Church, and he helps other churches in their missional efforts in his role as the Executive Director of the Externally Focused Network (www.externallyfocusednetwork.com). Brian also leads a new website designed to challenge young Christian risk-takers (www.MoreAtStake.com). Brian was the first G.M. of SermonCentral.com from 2000-2005. He has written curriculum for campaigns including Bono’s “One Sabbath Campaign”, Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”; World Vision’s “Faith in Action” and “The Hole in Our Gospel.” God's specific call on his life is to strengthen other Christian leaders.