Length of Sermons

Discussion in 'Pastoral Ministries' started by mnw, Dec 26, 2006.

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For How Long Do You Preach?

  1. 10-15 Minutes

    1 vote(s)
    1.5%
  2. 15-20 Minutes

    2 vote(s)
    3.0%
  3. 25-30 Minutes

    21 vote(s)
    31.8%
  4. 30-35 Minutes

    16 vote(s)
    24.2%
  5. 35-40 Minutes

    6 vote(s)
    9.1%
  6. 40-50 Minutes

    15 vote(s)
    22.7%
  7. 50+ Minutes

    2 vote(s)
    3.0%
  8. Until I'm Done!

    5 vote(s)
    7.6%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. mnw

    mnw
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    As opening questions,

    1) How long do you preach on a Sunday Morning?

    2) Why do you preach for that length

    I realise some may answer, "I preach until the Lord's says I'm done", but do you find yourself normally preaching for about the same time frame?

    What do you think are the doctrinal, cultural, local, personal factors that influence the amount of time you preach?

    The poll, hopefully, has enough answers to cover all bases. :)

    Let's take a normal Sunday Morning sermon for the poll and try to average out the length.
     
    #1 mnw, Dec 26, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2006
  2. swaimj

    swaimj
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    I try to keep my sermons between 30-35 minutes. Once in a while I slip over, but not often. I try to watch the audience. When they start drifting away you're basicly wasting your time. 30 - 35 minutes seems to be the limit.
     
  3. Jim1999

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    My sermons are on average 30-35 minutes, but I never preach past noon on Sunday mornings. The people have usually been in church from 9 until noon and I would like to see them return for the evening service at half 6. Most people are busy, and some may travel a distance to church. I would rather have people say I could preach longer than rue the fact I did.

    In the evening, the service may vary, depending on topic.

    If I can't get the message across in 30 minutes, I can't get it across in an hour. Study hard, write and rewrite, and practice the efficiency of language.

    That has been my practice for a lifetime of preaching.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  4. Jeff Weaver

    Jeff Weaver
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    About 20-30 minutes most of the time, occasionally up to 40 minutes, but that is rare. I try very hard to avoid the verbal ticks that a lot of preachers get into. I try to speak slowly, enuciate properly, and leave out repetition.
     
  5. PastorSBC1303

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    Normally 35-40 mins.

    It is long enough to cover a text expositionally and also provide solid application for today's world while not losing your audience.

    I would say 90% of the time all of my messages fall into the 35-40 min category.

    I do not know that any doctrinal issues influence the time. Cultural, local and personal factors can all come into play. However, I think the most important consideration is can you cover the text you are preaching in a God-honoring fashion.
     
  6. Tom Bryant

    Tom Bryant
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    30-35 minutes

    It usually takes me that long to explain the passage, give other Biblical illustrations and apply it.

    The biggest factor for me is length of the service. We have 2 services. ONe is 60 minutes, the other is 75 minutes. The other factyor is that this is a length that I think I can reasonably hold people's attention.

    "THE MIND CAN ONBLY ABSORB WHAT THE SEAT CAN ENDURE" is my motto.
     
  7. mnw

    mnw
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    Thanks for the comments guys. And Tom, I like that motto. :)

    I would preach, up until recently, anywhere from 40-65 minutes. The church I pastor, though, is used to long preaching so its normally okay. When I first came here the previous pastor's mother came to me and said, "Preach whatever you want, just don't preach as long as my son!" Of course she was only joking... I think. :)

    Anyway, I am beginning to see the need and benefits to preach deliberately shorter messages.

    While I was in the US on deputation it was impressed on me, and I saw through experiance, that very often the congregations can't take more than 30-35 minutes. This is not necessarily a criticism, just an observation. I believe the UK is the same way.

    Now, I am going to start preaching shorter for a number of reasons:

    1. People can't seem to handle the longer sermons

    2. Less time in sermon preparation will result in shorter sermons but will give me more time to evangelise and make visits.

    3. I've gotta face it, I lack experiance and I don't have the ability to hold their attention like some better preachers.

    4. Its better for people to walk away wanting more rather than sit there anxious to leave.

    I guess a few things bother me, though.

    1. We can sit through 3 hours of a movie but after 30 minutes with the Word we're done! I don't understand.

    2. At times in history people have had a thirst for the Word and sermons were considerably longer. We blame culture, but is it more like cold hearts?

    3. The argument of if we can't say it in 30 minutes then we need to study more. This is not an attack on those who have said it. Men in the US I met with more experiance and with large churches followed this line of thought. But is it more a reaction to culture rather than an actual truth. Again, the example of historical preachers lends us to expect longer sermons. Doesn't it?

    I know I am kinda playing both sides here. I am saying I will preach shorter but then saying why I don't want to. I guess it is part of a change in the way I am viewing ministry and so I need a sounding board on the Baptist Board... :)

    Keep the comments coming!
     
  8. Jim1999

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    Perhaps if we had an advert every five minutes or so we could compete with the telly pictures.

    Not all of us have the talent to preach lengthy sermons. If we try to copy Mr. Spurgeon, we generally copy his errors.

    It takes MORE time to say LESS because we are creatures of repeat and repeat. I have examined many sermons since I retired, and sermons become like reading a newspaper. Once you read the first sentence of each paragraph you have the whole story.

    Even at the university, we found that students, people who are being trained to listen, can only absorb so much new information. Hence lectures are given a specific time limit.........the absorbtion factor.

    I remember an old professor who came to speak at my church early on in my ministry. He said, "Your pastor will use words that go over your heads. Nevermind, he does that to me as well." A great lesson. Choose your words well. Make each point of your sermon say something. Then expand on that point so that it is understood. Use good stories to expand on that point. The variety of speech expressions will renew attention in your audience. Master the language and you will command attention.

    Anyone can say nothing. It just takes longer to say it.

    Cheers, and good preaching,

    Jim
     
  9. TomVols

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    Culture is very different even from church to church. I was a pastor at a church that had had some very fine preachers, some very well known names in the SBC. I was expected to preach 40-45 minutes at a minimum. However, now I tend to aim for 25-30 minutes for Sunday morning. If all the sermon is going to make it on tape, I have to preach that long :) You can still be expository, though you may not be able to do 6 points and 40 verses....and that's probably a good thing. If I want my people to really get the message of a passage, I need to break it down into smaller chunks so I can adequately exposit, interpret, illustrate, and apply it. But 25 minutes is the culture I preach to.

    Jim is right about shorter sermons. Every 6 weeks or so I do five consecutive 12 minute radio devotions on a local radio station. Those are much harder to do than the 40 minutes I take on a Sunday or Wednesday night, and I say a lot more in those 12 minutes. This is why in homiletics classes you are typically asked to preach ten minute sermons. It is a valuable discipline.
     
  10. Jim1999

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    For those who like preaching long sermons, I was invited to preach at a German Baptist Church at Wetaskiwan, Alberta many years ago.

    The Sunday School started at half 9. I was given the lesson book when I arrived and was expected to teach the lesson without any prior study. I preached at the morning service at 11 for 30-40 minutes. Near the end of the sermon, some ladies got up and left. Now I've done it, I thought. No, they were leaving to prepare lunch. They had come for church, and not some mandy pandy little service. We went down for lunch, had a short break and then I was told I could carry on preaching where I left off. The afternoon service carried on until 5...Thankfully we had a few hymns and testimonies in between.

    They said that many members travelled a great distance and they wanted the most of the day as they worked hard on their farms all week, and this IS the Lord's Day.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  11. Tom Bryant

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    I agree that people ought to be able to sit through 45 minutes of preaching when they sit through a 2 hour movie. But, bluntly, our preaching is not as interesting as a good movie. We take the best news ever told and often present it in the most boring way. I don't think many people would sit through a movie if it was one person speaking for the entire 2 hours.

    Rick Warren - and I know that some will not read anymore once his name is mentioned :BangHead: - regularly preaches for 45-50 minutes, but will have a testimony or song scheduled to give the message tension and release.

    So maybe it's not ONLY the time we preach that determines interest.
     
  12. SBCPreacher

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    I'm still trying to figure out how someone was able to get in done in 10-15 minutes (according to the poll).

    I usually aim for under 30 minutes, but it always takes a little longer than I plan. 30-35 mintues is the norm for me. (Most everyone is still awake at the end of the sermon!)
     
  13. mnw

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    RA Torrey is recorded to have visited an old country church once with his family while on holiday. Apparently, the speaker was less than energetic. But, Torrey sat and had a look of interest the whole time.

    After the service his son asked how he could get anything from such a dry, boring speaker. Torrey explained that whenever the Word of God is opened and used there is ALWAYS something of interest and help.

    I think that may be part of the problem. People get exactly what they expect - nothing.

    Those ones in my church who have a constant walk with the Lord and are seeking His face will almost always get something, however long the sermon, and will always be there when they can.

    How much does the preacher have to do with the impact of the sermon and how much does the listener?

    I am swinging, at the moment, between laying more or less responsibility on both. Can the most experianced, thrilling speaker, by the grace of God, stir a cold hearted believer? Or does the speaker have little to do with it and it is due to the "want" of the listener?

    But, does the preacher's consistent, faithful, clear exposition and application bring an individual to the point where he is wanting the Word...

    The old chicken and the egg? Am I going round in circles and making little point? :)
     
  14. John I Morris

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    It just seems that my internal clock goes abotu 30-32 minutes. I really dont try and make it any length. After 26 years it is what it is.
     
  15. Helen

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    Excuse me for interrupting, sirs, but I thought I would share something that happened this past Sunday. My husband and I bring a number of old people to church from a nearby assisted living complex. They are served lunch at noon and the church service itself starts at 11 (Sunday school is earlier). This past Sunday our lovely pastor got wound up and went until about 12:20. Partly that was because of some special music that was on the program.

    The older people were very upset about possibly missing their lunch. My husband went into the complex and made sure that they would have food, but we are both quite sure that there are some who will not be back now. And that is too bad. We will probably go see them personally and befriend them and share the faith, but for them, not eating was not an option.

    God bless all you men who work so faithfully week after week. I just wanted to share something that perhaps some of the pastors might not be aware of if you have elderly members in your congregations.
     
  16. tinytim

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    Thanks Helen... And don't forget about diabetics.
     
  17. John of Japan

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    I once asked Evangelist Fred Brown how long he thought a man should preach. He said, "Ten minutes less than I do!" :laugh: So I asked him how long he preached and he said, "About 40 minutes." Ever since then I've aimed at 30-35 minutes.
     
  18. standingfirminChrist

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    A wise preacher once instructed me when I first entered the ministry, 'Keep an eye on the congregation. When they begin to fidget, start wrapping up the sermon. The mind can only take in as much as the seat can endure.'

    Wise words. And following that advice, I have preached sermons from a half hour all the way up to an hour and a half with many being spiritually refreshed... including myself.

    Since I have gone blind though, I cannot see when they fidget, so I imagine many husbands get elbowed by their wives when I minister. lol
     
  19. Brother Randall

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    Helen, It's great you're bringing folks from the assisted living complex. :thumbs: But, I think you were setting yourself for failure. An 11am service and trying to have your guests back for lunch at Noon? :confused: That's only 1 hour and doesn't count driving time to the assisted living home....assuming it's not next door. Most Baptist services (SBC I'm familar with) are at least 1 hour to 1.5 hours in duration.
     
  20. SBCPreacher

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    I have been told more than once that the internal clock of a baby in our nursery goes off promptly at noon. Our nursery workers don't like it when we go over - and they do tend to let me know.
     

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