Skip to comments.Would You Go to Church if Services Were Shorter?
Posted on 07/06/2011 7:07:50 AM PDT by Bed_Zeppelin
One church leader says worship services today are too time consuming, speaking out during an era when discussions about long church services seem to be a touchy subject for many Christians.
The Rev. Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield, told a group of clergy in a speech in his London diocese this week that church services have become too long, recommending clergy should aim to keep the time of worship to no more than 50 minutes.
The bishop continued to say that worship has become too complicated, leaving people who are not regular churchgoers feeling confused and excluded.
"One of the reasons for our recent decline in churchgoing is we are not making the occasional worshipper feel welcome," he said.
"You have got to be quite tough to come to some of our services if you are not a regular attender. We're praying for longer and we're singing for longer."
Most religious leaders say Sunday morning church services already have to compete with shopping, lying in bed, or taking the day off, and the idea of spending two hours dedicated to worship is not very appealing in todays society.
One blog reported that people who are in favor of longer church services frequently use the argument that we need to give God the time that he deserves. If we can make time for everything else, we can make time for God.
In my opinion, being in service for 3 hours on Sunday is not a badge of honor. It means that there are a lot of people in your church that waste a lot of time during service, said Clifton Holmes, a Christian writer for the Gospel Blog.
There is no point in any of us bashing people for how much or how little time they spend in church on Sunday. If you really want to score points and find favor with God, then focus on how much time you spend with him outside of the walls of your cathedral, worship center or sanctuary.
Research conducted over the last year by anonymous worshippers for the church website Ship of Fools found some Anglican clergy are preaching for as long as 42 minutes. Throw in songs of praise, fellowship and prayer and the worshipping public spends about two hours in church.
Bishop Gledhill said there had been a tendency to devise "more and more intricate and beautiful services for our own use, forgetting those who might come if we made things simpler for them to start with."
He said that clergy need to make sure that their sermons are not too long, arguing that people's "attention spans aren't what they used to be."
Attention spans remain a major area of investigation within research for psychology and neuroscience. Medical professionals generally believe that there is an"epidemic-level shortness in the attention spans of American citizens, according to a federally-funded study on improving attention spans of Americans.
Kirk Johnson, a behavioral psychologist at the University of Minnesota who took part in the attention span study, said one explanation for the plummet in American attention spans may be, in part, an increasingly intrusive overabundance of often irrelevant and distracting information.
From reality television to advertising on mobile phones to giant screaming headline broadsheets on every street corner contributes to the problem, he said.
In another recent poll conducted by City Data, nearly 20 percent of those surveyed said their church services were timed just right.
Others surveyed for the poll, reveal 50 percent saying they spend about 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes in church.
Recent research shows only 26 percent of the world attend church services.
Last year, the Vatican told Catholic clergy to keep their sermons under eight minutes to cater for people who found it hard to concentrate for long periods.
According to Christian Research, there is no doubt that the long term downward trend in Church attendance continues as does the increase in average age of Churchgoers.
So far, research shows nothing the Church leaders have done seems to have brought about any change in the decline in church attendance that started in the 50's.
The comments after the article are a real eye-opener.
Yes, Christians should be clamoring for more church time than less. If not there is a problem.
No. I have found that most, not all, of the churches that finish in less than an hour, present a watered-down or even a liberal interpretation of the Bible. When the exposition of the Word is the pinnacle of corporate worship, it isn’t uncommon for a service to be longer than an hour.
How about we skip the sermon and just hold hands and sing a few hymns? Why bother with that pesky old Gospel?
How about take those new 7-11 praise songs they sing at my church (7 words repeated 11 times), and instead repeat them only 3 times. This would take 15 minutes out of the service that provide no spiritual nourishment.
Catholic Masses run about an hour and I’m in no hurry to leave. Plus we can get some Knights of Columbus business discussed because more members go to Mass than go to meetings.
Exactly. Our preacher goes for at least 40 minutes and he may only cover a couple of verses. Our service is almost always 2 hours by the time you get the singing, the sermon, any special music and then prayer and praise time in.
I’m a Christian, though not always a good Christian, and I attend when I’m not working, and I always fight sleep during the sermon and always wish for a shorter service. Recently noticed an aside in one of Bruce Catton’s Civil War histories in which President Buchanan usually answered the same lady in the same way, on his way out of church: “The sermon, ma’am? Too long, I thought.”
Best Pastor I ever had, limited his sermons to around 25 minutes. Asked him about why it was so short. His reply was that people can only pay attention for 20-30 minutes in a stretch; and that if you can’t say it in under 30 minutes, you can’t say it in 45 minutes.
When he was getting ready to retire, he asked for people in the congregation for suggestions on which past sermons they would like to hear again. It was amazing that some of the most requested had been preached originally many years prior to his retirement. He preached sermons you actually remembered. With most preachers, it’s had to remember was was said the following Tuesday.
Gerald Marvel ws a Godly man with an extraordinary talent for preaching.
That’s about the right time. Mass is Mass. It’s not a circus or a picnic which is what it has turned into since Vat11. Attention spans my foot. We as children sat through Masses and special Masses and listened to and responded over and over again to the Priest during a Litany. It’s self discipline. However, someone giving a speech for over an hour or so is absolutely ridiculous and seems to me to be all about the one giving the speech. Three hours in the church??? We used to go to Mass then home to be with our families and enjoy a nice Sunday dinner prepared by our mother. Mass was Mass and the rest of the day was the rest of the day.
It’s difficult to get a non-Christian or immature Christian to sit longer than an hour. They just will not do it.
If you want to win hearts and minds (aka souls) for Christ then you need to deliver the message in a format they’ll accept. It can still be a biblically correct message and be done within 1 hour.
Once people grow in their relationship with Christ they will develop a hunger for more.
Coming soon, drive thru services.
See my post #10.
“Our services on average run around three hours, the same length as watching a football game or going to a concert. So what’s the problem? “
Today people seem to get more from a football game than a church service (and, no, I’m not talking about the entertainment aspect of football).
Churches with long services can pack ‘em in if they are actually feeding the flock. But that happens rarely these days IMHO.
I’d go if services were shorter. I’d go if services were longer. However, if they were much longer, I’d make sure we didn’t have all the little boys with us going ballistic.
I have no objection to spending time in church. I go to religious lectures on my own initiative, and sometimes even pay to hear a speaker.
There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead.
But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him. Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted." Acts 20:7-12
I go for God, not to feel good about going. If God’s in the service, time doesn’t matter.
I was just reading it.
I don’t think God cares how long we sit in church so much as how the time is used and how the sermon is applied the rest of the time.
A lot of churches that have services lasting 1:00 to 1:15 also have extensive Sunday School programs for all ages and encourage people to join small groups.
This is especially true for churches that have more than one service because the sanctuary can’t seat all the attendees at one time.
A church service that goes for two hours probably only has one service and not a lot in the way of Sunday School; and especially adult Sunday School.
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