Sermons are the driving force in Christian churches. Everything is constantly rearranged around them, like decorations, promotional materials, and worship songs. The sermon series sets the tone of ministry.
This is probably why most preachers preach long sermons. A recent survey discovered that 75% preach for more than 30 minutes. The average sermon is 36 minutes long.
My own experience has confirmed to me that shorter sermons are best. It is preferable to preach less than half an hour. In fact, here are four good reasons why you shouldn’t preach more than this:
Reason #1: It’s Unnecessary
It isn’t necessary to preach more than 30 minutes. It doesn’t take your people that long to understand something, so it shouldn’t take you that long to explain it.
Preachers preach for more than 30 minutes because they are unfocused. They tend to ramble, repeat themselves, and get off-topic. They also preach long sermons because they want to make multiple points.
Discipline yourself to stay focused on what is most essential. Don’t try to say everything in every sermon. Condense your sermons by taking out anything that is redundant or unnecessary.
If you can’t say what you have to say in 30 minutes or less, do you really know what you’re trying to say?
Reason #2: It’s Ineffective
It isn’t effective to preach more than 30 minutes. Your people don’t need you to explain something over and over again. They only need you to explain it once in a helpful, memorable way.
We seem to think that the more we say, the more people will remember. But when it comes to preaching, less is more. In other words: the less we say, the more people remember. And the opposite is also true: the more we say, the less people remember.
Train yourself to be brief. Practice saying things in as few words as possible. Boil your ideas down to a single thought for your people to remember and put into action.
Reason #3: It’s Inconsiderate
It isn’t considerate to preach more than 30 minutes. You aren’t the only person who serves on Sunday morning. There are other volunteers who depend on you to not preach too long.
Think about how the length of your sermon affects others. There are volunteers in the Children’s Ministry who teach young children. The longer you preach, the longer they have to occupy the kids.
There are also others who have prepared to serve (worship team, communion meditations, announcements, etc). The longer you preach, the more pressure they feel to shorten what they’ve prepared.
Remind yourself to be considerate. Don’t presume to be most important or worthwhile. Show your appreciation for others’ service by keeping your sermon short.
Reason #4: It’s Disproportionate
It isn’t proportionate to preach more than 30 minutes. There are other things that need to happen on Sunday morning. These get abbreviated or eliminated when you preach too long.
The early believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). We tend to maximize the teaching and minimize everything else.
When we come together each week, why don’t we spend more time in fellowship? Why is the Lord’s Supper so brief? Why don’t we spend any time praying together? Is it not ironic that preaching takes precedence in a worship service?
Challenge yourself to take a more balanced approach. Make sure everything is given enough time. Put more emphasis on things that are being rushed or skipped. Ask how your sermon fits into the overall worship service rather than tailoring the service to fit your sermon.
How long do you think a sermon should be? Leave your thoughts with a comment below!
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