Research Initiatives

Our current research initiatives:

Are You Talking to Me? A Study of Young Listeners’ Connection with Sunday Preaching

The Catechesis in Preaching Initiative

Unpacking the Complexities of the Homiletic Encounter

Research in preaching is very much in its infancy. These listener studies are only a beginning.

There are further initiatives that we would like to undertake to deepen our understanding of the state of preaching:

1) An expansion of the survey of young listeners, Are You Talking to Me? to be a nationally representative study of the connection of Sunday preaching with those who listen to homilies and sermons – evaluating all ages and all denominations. This would evaluate: a) How are we doing? b) Where are the pain points where the investment of time and money would result in the greatest growth in preaching improvement?

2) A large-scale empirical study of listening to homilies and sermons, asking:

  • What motivates people to grow in discipleship, to deepen their imitation of Jesus Christ?
  • What holds their attention? What motivates them?
  • What brings them back? What drives them away?
  • How can preachers speak to their people so that the message of the gospel resonates in their hearts?

To accomplish these dreams would require angel investors who believe in and support the work that we do. If you would like to encourage these initiatives to improve preaching, please contact us. What is the return on your investment? Studies show that about 48% of Americans listen to a homily or a sermon on any given Sunday. It is time to put our understanding of preaching onto a solid base of research. The secular world pours millions of dollars into the study of how to get a message to connect, how to engender loyalty and commitment to a brand, and how to nurture followers who create “buzz” about their product. Is it any surprise that the message of the gospel is losing ground to this carefully-researched bombardment? We need better data.

Incremental improvement in Sunday preaching could result in an exponential growth in Christian faith.  People in the pews do not hunger for a seven-course homiletical meal. A peanut butter sandwich that nourishes and meets their needs would satisfy many.