It’s been almost seven years now since my wife and I faced the big decision: what to name our new baby.

Our first son – soon to be 11 years old – was a fairly easy one. Every eldest male in my family (going back at least five generations) has had the first name “James.” (I happen to be James Michael. Until 12 I went by “Jimmy,” but when my family moved to a new city I introduced myself as “Mike” and the change was complete, though it was murder on some of those elderly aunts to remember.) So our eldest became James Robert (the first name after my father and myself, the middle name after my wife’s dad.)

But when the second son came along four years later, it was wide open. I had always liked the name Stephen, so we settled on Stephen Michael. (Notice how I managed to get both my names in there, though it took two children to finish the job.)

Naming a child is a big decision. I recently read a list of the top 10 boy and girl names from 2005 (according to the Social Security Administration), and it is quite a change from the list you would have read 20 or even 10 years ago.

1. Jacob
2. Michael
3. Joshua
4. Matthew
5. Ethan
6. Andrew
7. Daniel
8. Anthony
9. Christopher
10. Joseph

1. Emily
2. Emma
3. Madison
4. Abigail
5. Olivia
6. Isabella
7. Hannah
8. Samantha
9. Ava
10. Ashley

Compare that to the list from 1965:

1. Michael
2. John
3. David
4. James
5. Robert
6. William
7. Mark
8. Richard
9. Thomas
10. Jeffrey

1. Lisa
2. Mary
3. Karen
4. Kimberly
5. Susan
6. Patricia
7. Donna
8. Linda
9. Cynthia
10. Angela

Names are important to children, and they are also important to preachers. The titles we give our sermons can make a significant difference in the interest level of the congregation. So as a public service to our readers, Preaching magazine conducted an extensive survey – thanks to both of you who responded – and here is a list of the top ten favorite sermon titles for 2006:

10. Deviled Ham (Luke 8:26-39)

9. Get Off Your Donkey (Parable of Good Samaritan)

8. He’s Making A List And Checking It Twice (Final Judgement)

7. Is God your steering wheel or your spare tire?

6. Nothing but Net (John 21)

5. You Can’t Have Your Kate and Edith too (adultery)

4. Seven Ducks In A Puddle (Namaan, II Kings 5)

3. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: Don’t bend, Don’t bow, Don’t Burn!

2. A Nude Dude in a Rude Mood: A sermon on the Gadarene Demoniac

1. Standing On The Promises or Sitting On The Premises

And here’s hoping 2007 is a much better year.



Michael Duduit is Editor of Preaching magazine. You can write to him at, or visit his website at

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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