Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

3 Views on How Long a Sermon Should Be
Christian Post ^ | 07/30/2014 | Thom S. Rainer

Posted on 07/30/2014 2:02:22 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

What is the trend? Are church members and church leaders saying sermons should be longer or shorter? The answer is "yes."

If my answer is confusing, I understand. But the reality is there are two major trends taking place related to sermon length. I have been following these trends through anecdotal information and social media polls for three years. There are growing numbers of respondents who believe sermons should be longer. There are also growing numbers of respondents who believe sermons should be shorter. And there aren't many people in the middle of those two divergent views.

By the way, there is a smaller, but consistent, number that feel the pastor should preach "as long or short as God leads" with no constraints at all. That view is the third of the three perspectives.

I am reticent to put my numbers in statistical percentages since my social media polls of the past three years are not scientific. Since numbers, however, can provide greater clarity, I list them here with the caveat that accuracy is definitely not precise.

1. 41%: Sermons should be shorter, in the 20 to 30 minute range. These respondents see a cultural barrier related to short attention spans. Any sermon over 30 minutes, they say, does not connect with the typical mind of today, especially in Western culture. We, therefore, must keep the message shorter and pack more information into a relatively brief time period.

2. 37%: Sermons should be longer, in the 35 to 55 minute range. A solid exposition of Scripture, this perspective argues, cannot be done in just a few minutes. The sermon is the central part of the worship service, and the time allocated should be significant. We do a disservice to the Word of God when we move toward shorter sermons.

3. 9%: There should be no time constraints on the pastor's sermons. The pastor should have a sermon length that is only subject to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Anything else lacks sensitivity to God's work and involvement.

Obviously, if you add the numbers, another 13% had a variety of responses that fit none of the categories. By way, some of the responses in my most recent social media poll and in previous polls advocated sermon lengths from 8 minutes to 75 minutes. We church members definitely are not in full agreement on these issues.


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; Ministry/Outreach; Worship
KEYWORDS: sermon; sermons

1 posted on 07/30/2014 2:02:22 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Longer is better. I hate short naps.

(kidding)


2 posted on 07/30/2014 2:05:05 PM PDT by Responsibility2nd (NO LIBS. This Means Liberals and (L)libertarians! Same Thing. NO LIBS!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

While not Catholic himself, Episcopalian General Patton frequently attended Mass because a majority of the chaplains under his command were Catholic priests.

It is said that at the 10 minute mark of a sermon, Patton would draw his revolver and set it on the pew in view of the preacher as a signal time was up.


3 posted on 07/30/2014 2:05:55 PM PDT by nascarnation (Toxic Baraq Syndrome: hopefully infecting a Dem candidate near you)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Well, if people are dozing off, maybe go shorter. Or at least snazz it up a little and keep it interesting.


4 posted on 07/30/2014 2:08:18 PM PDT by Boogieman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

I think more from the bible would be good.
Sometimes, just a scripture reading is better than a “sermon”.


5 posted on 07/30/2014 2:08:59 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Responsibility2nd
My parish priest usually has homilies that are about 20 minutes long. (Sunday Mass)The entire Mass is about 1 1/4 hours long

I attended another church for daily Mass, and the entire Mass is less than 17 minutes. Just horrible, I can not even get me mind in the proper state to receive in that short amount of time.

6 posted on 07/30/2014 2:09:19 PM PDT by mware
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Responsibility2nd

I was an altar boy,, and let me tell you,,

The shorter the better..

My favorite Pastor got r done.


7 posted on 07/30/2014 2:09:28 PM PDT by NormsRevenge (Semper Fi - Revolution is a'brewin!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: nascarnation

Haha, I wish I could do that at company meetings sometimes.

Or, just have a tape recorder in my pocket and start playing the Oscars’ “wrap it up” music when they won’t stop rambling.


8 posted on 07/30/2014 2:10:03 PM PDT by Boogieman
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Responsibility2nd

Legend has it that this man said it:

“The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending, then having the two as close together as possible.”

— George Burns


9 posted on 07/30/2014 2:11:02 PM PDT by SeekAndFind (If at first you don't succeed, put it out for beta test.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

As long as it needs to be. No more. No less.


10 posted on 07/30/2014 2:12:56 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
Sermons should be longer, in the 35 to 55 minute range.

It is rare that I see a speaker -- whether a minister, priest or a person giving a non-religious speech -- who can successfully pull off a 55 minute speech. You have to be a very skilled speaker to keep people's attention and give them an hours worth of memorable content. The reason the 20 minute speech is a good bet is because it includes 2 or 3 well-developed concepts that people will remember, at least for a short while.

I also give a fair number of talks and presentations in my job and the one humbling fact that you learn is that you are lucky if people remember one thing you said a week after you speak.

11 posted on 07/30/2014 2:15:58 PM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nascarnation
It is said that at the 10 minute mark of a sermon, Patton would draw his revolver and set it on the pew in view of the preacher as a signal time was up.

If that isn't actually true, it ought to be.

12 posted on 07/30/2014 2:19:04 PM PDT by Ken H
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
I haven't read the article, but this is an opportunity to express a personal view regarding MY pastor.

About 4 or 5 weeks ago, he started reading an entire chapter (we're going through the bible page by page) before beginning his message and though the chapter may be longer than a verse or two, I HAVE found it to be most helpful to the congregation to pay attention (ordinarily out of church about 12 ... now pushing 1220, 1230 .. ) and the preaching is easier (his statement) because more 'meat' is in the prelude (so to speak)

In the past, pastor would (it seemed) preach droningly because he had finished his message (IMO), but 'there was still some clock left' and it was watch watching boring.

NOW however, the message is aligned with the entire passage of scripture as opposed to a text verse or two


I'd suggest this to your pastor ... you'll be as interested as when you're reading your bible in an interesting section and you keep going until the end of David's life (f'rinstance ... or whatever)

13 posted on 07/30/2014 2:21:09 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: OneWingedShark
I think more from the bible would be good. Sometimes, just a scripture reading is better than a “sermon”.

I'm with you - I love expository preaching.

Calvin's preaching was of one kind from beginning to end: he preached steadily through book after book of the Bible. He never wavered from this approach to preaching for almost twenty-five years of ministry in St. Peter's church of Geneva - with the exception of a few high festivals and special occasions. "On Sunday he took always the New Testament, except for a few Psalms on Sunday afternoons. During the week . . . it was always the Old Testament". The records show fewer than half a dozen exceptions for the sake of the Christian year. He almost entirely ignored Christmas and Easter in the selection of his text.

To give you some idea of the scope of the Calvin's pulpit, he began his series on the book of Acts on August 25, 1549, and ended it in March of 1554. After Acts he went on to the epistles to the Thessalonians (46 sermons), Corinthians (186 sermons), pastorals (86 sermons), Galatians (43 sermons), Ephesians (48 sermons) - till May 1558. Then there is a gap when he is ill. In the spring of 1559 he began the Harmony of the Gospels and was not finished when he died in May, 1564. During the week of that season he preached 159 sermons on Job, 200 on Deuteronomy, 353 on Isaiah, 123 on Genesis and so on.

One of the clearest illustrations that this was a self-conscious choice on Calvin's part was the fact that on Easter Day, 1538, after preaching, he left the pulpit of St. Peter's, banished by the City Council. He returned in September, 1541 - over three years later - and picked up the exposition in the next verse.

-- excerpted from John Piper's The Divine Majesty Of The Word


14 posted on 07/30/2014 2:21:44 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Longer if I’m there by myself, shorter if I’m there with children.


15 posted on 07/30/2014 2:22:01 PM PDT by Tax-chick (No power in the 'verse can stop me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: OneWingedShark

My #13


16 posted on 07/30/2014 2:22:15 PM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: Charles Henrickson

bump


17 posted on 07/30/2014 2:22:52 PM PDT by GeronL (Vote for Conservatives not for Republicans)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

A good sermon may be long, if necessary. A lousy sermon should be short, or should never be started.


18 posted on 07/30/2014 2:26:41 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind
I am reticent to put my numbers in statistical percentages...

He means "reluctant." I can't take seriously a person who falls into a common blunder like that. It means he is going through life half-asleep. His life is hardly worth living, in fact.

19 posted on 07/30/2014 2:28:19 PM PDT by Arthur McGowan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: knarf
Another tactic that my priest uses is to ask people about the readings during his homily.

He has done it enough times, that most of the folks pay attention.

20 posted on 07/30/2014 2:30:04 PM PDT by mware
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Opinionated Blowhard
I am not a particularly skilled speaker.

Aeons ago, I spent few years teaching High School. I had no trouble keeping the kids' attention for the entire class period, which sometimes exceeded 1 hour.

I accomplished this several ways ... Each lesson had a purpose, a beginning, an end, an exposition in between. I also made the lesson interactive ... rhetorical questions are pointless. If I asked a question, I expected an answer ... if one was not volunteered I called students by name.

Some ministers attempt to employ interaction; too often it elicits only choruses of "MMMM-Hmmmm" and "Amen".

21 posted on 07/30/2014 2:31:07 PM PDT by NorthMountain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Alex Murphy

Interesting // Thanks for sharing that.


22 posted on 07/30/2014 2:31:45 PM PDT by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

I think there have been studies on teaching classes that show anything beyond about 45 minutes the students stop being able to retain as well and/or start to lose information. I’d put it at 35-45 myself just for that reason.


23 posted on 07/30/2014 2:35:21 PM PDT by reed13k (For evil to triumph it is only necessary for good men to do nothings)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

It would seem most pulpits are failing to deliver His message so in that sense they should probably be shorter...


24 posted on 07/30/2014 2:57:53 PM PDT by wastoute (Government cannot redistribute wealth. Government can only redistribute poverty.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe 6-pack

St John the Evangelist later in life supposedly would just say “love one another”. And to quote Shakespeare “Brevity is the soul of wit”.


25 posted on 07/30/2014 3:19:51 PM PDT by freefdny
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

When I fall asleep, it’s too long. I’ve heard preachers that could preach for 1 & 1/2 hours and keep me on the edge of my seat. Other guys ought to shut up after 15 minutes.


26 posted on 07/30/2014 3:21:14 PM PDT by wdk535
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Our pastor limits his to 45 minutes so they’ll fit on a single audio CD, for those that are absent any given Sunday.


27 posted on 07/30/2014 3:25:50 PM PDT by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Opinionated Blowhard

Aye, there’s the key: a successful speech with memorable content. The problem I hear with most sermons is that they fail to deliver a point. Yes, they cite scripture; yes, they elucidate what Christians should do; yes, they expound on key elements of faith. What they do not do is effectively tell people how the message applies to them and their lives. People leave the pews thinking they have been educated; what they haven’t been is convicted!


28 posted on 07/30/2014 3:33:48 PM PDT by Hootowl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

30 to 50 minutes.


29 posted on 07/30/2014 3:56:06 PM PDT by SoFloFreeper
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Joe 6-pack

Bingo!


30 posted on 07/30/2014 5:17:05 PM PDT by SgtHooper (Anyone who remembers the 60's, was not there!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Joe 6-pack

Amen. Let the Holy Spirit guide and minister through you. There may be just one person that needs a Word from God that day, and you might be their last opportunity to hear it.

I would rather hear one timely and inspired Word from God, than 40 minutes of cool anecdotes the minister found on the Internet concerning the topic du jour.


31 posted on 07/30/2014 7:34:53 PM PDT by Kandy Atz ("Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want for bread.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Kandy Atz

I’m fond of the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi:
“Preach the gospel always; when necessary, use words.”


32 posted on 07/30/2014 7:40:42 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Qui me amat, amat et canem meum.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: freefdny

RE: St John the Evangelist later in life supposedly would just say “love one another”. And to quote Shakespeare “Brevity is the soul of wit”.

Whew, I’m glad I went back and read it a second time. For a moment I thought he actually quoted Shakespeare ( that would have really been a far-reaching vision :)


33 posted on 07/30/2014 7:48:04 PM PDT by SeekAndFind (If at first you don't succeed, put it out for beta test.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Joe 6-pack

Faith comes by hearing…

Paul


34 posted on 07/31/2014 5:41:29 AM PDT by Gamecock (There is room for all of God's animals. Right next to the mashed potatoes and gravy.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 32 | View Replies]

To: SeekAndFind

Old saying from a parish priest, There are no souls saved after 15 minutes.


35 posted on 07/31/2014 6:20:18 AM PDT by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: nascarnation
While not Catholic himself, Episcopalian General Patton frequently attended Mass because a majority of the chaplains under his command were Catholic priests.
It is said that at the 10 minute mark of a sermon, Patton would draw his revolver and set it on the pew in view of the preacher as a signal time was up.

Haha, that sounds absurd, but I'm sure it's true. He was something else, wasn't he?

My father was in North Africa (Rommel), then Anzio. He saw a lot of our Allied losses. He also got malaria while in North Africa. He survived but it damaged his heart. And THAT finally did kill him at 58 years old. Not enougn years.

36 posted on 07/31/2014 6:50:38 AM PDT by cloudmountain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: wastoute
It would seem most pulpits are failing to deliver His message so in that sense they should probably be shorter...

The message can be delivered in fabulous speeches, decent rhetoric, even singing and people may listen with all the attention possible. But FOLLOWING those words of our good Lord...different story.

The Ten Commandments aren't the "Ten Suggestions" but do we follow them? No or not enough. We have free will and too often do what WE want to do and/or listen to the evil one.

We already KNOW what we ought to be doing and the priests can only deliver the message...

37 posted on 07/31/2014 6:57:51 AM PDT by cloudmountain
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Religion
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson