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Sermon Responses and Preferences in Pentecostal and Mainline Churches

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While research over the last 30 years has shown that sermons have a minimal influence on listeners, denominational differences in sermon effectiveness have been unexplored. We surveyed Anglican and Elim members (representing Mainline and Pentecostal Christians respectively) to compare their responses to sermons, and the sermon features and themes they prefer. The results revealed higher sermon effectiveness responses from Elim participants. The data also showed that Anglicans desired significant intellectual content and discussion of social issues compared with Elim members who gave higher ratings on almost all other features and themes. However, participants from both churches responded to sermons in a predominantly emotional (rather than cognitive or behavioural) way, and most wanted to hear sermons on grace and forgiveness. We conclude by noting the need for evaluations of sermon effectiveness that reflect preachers' and listeners' motivations.

Affiliations: 1: Massey University, New Zealand;, Email:; 2: Massey University, New Zealand;, Email:


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