“The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons” by Pew Research, 12/16/19.
… This process produced a database containing the transcribed texts of 49,719 sermons shared online by 6,431 churches and delivered between April 7 and June 1, 2019, a period that included Easter.2 These churches are notrepresentative of all houses of worship or even of all Christian churches in the U.S.; they make up just a small percentage of the estimated350,000-plus religious congregations nationwide. Compared with U.S. congregations as a whole, the churches with sermons includein the dataset are more likely to be in urban areas and tend to have larger-than-average congregations (see the Methodologyfor full details).
The median sermon scraped from congregational websites is 37 minutes long. But there are striking differences in the typical length of a sermon in each of the four major Christian traditions analyzed in this report: Catholic, evangelical Protestant, mainline Protestant and historically black Protestant.3
Catholic sermons are the shortest, at a median of just 14 minutes, compared with 25 minutes for sermons in mainline Protestant congregations and 39 minutes in evangelical Protestant congregations. Historically black Protestant churches have the longest sermons by far: a median of 54 minutes, more than triple the length of the median Catholic homily posted online during the Easter study period.
Researchers also conducted a basic exploration of sermons’ vocabulary. Several words frequently appear in sermons at many different types of churches – for instance, words such as “know,” “God” and “Jesus” were used in sermons at 98% or more of churches in all four major Christian traditions included in this analysis.4
This computational text analysis also found many words and phrases that are used more frequently in the sermons of some Christian groups than others.
For instance, the distinctive words (or sequences of words) that often appear in sermons delivered at historically black Protestant congregations include “powerful hand” and “hallelujah … come.” The latter phrase (which appears online in actual sentences such as “Hallelujah! Come on … let your praises loose!”) appeared in some form in the sermons of 22% of all historically black Protestant churches across the study period. And these congregations were eight times more likely than others to hear that phrase or a close variant. Although the word “hallelujah” is by no means unique to historically black Protestant services, this analysis indicates that it is a hallmark of black Protestant churches.