I was recently the example used by a blogger/consultant friend of mine on the topic of sermon length. He talked about me in the same paragraphs as great communicators like Anne Graham Lotz and Bill Hybels. He even referred to all of us as “sermonic artists.” It was absolutely humbling and encouraging. Read his post here, then come back!
Another friend published his own post on preaching myths that need to be busted. Sermon length was on the list, as well as the idea that boring=deep and that clear=shallow. Read that one as well, but come back!
One of the most difficult parts of being a pastor is the need to prepare a message that you pray is meaningful, helpful, thoughtful, and honoring to God. One of the most exciting parts of being a pastor is the need to prepare a message that you pray is meaningful, helpful, thoughtful, and honoring to God.
I love to share messages from the Scriptures. I find joy in the “aha” moments when the lights come on in someone’s eyes when a point has finally helped them connect the dots. It’s thrilling for me when someone has had their paradigms stretched, their previous ideas challenged, and their heart challenged. I always say that if someone walks away from a sermon I’ve preached and have not been pushed to prayerfully think, then I have wasted my time and theirs. I take preaching that seriously.
Maybe that’s why my sermons can be lengthy … between 40-45 minutes on a given Sunday. The Scriptures give us so much to consider. However, I never want my messages to feel 40-45 minutes. So I use images, videos, interaction with the crowd, humor, and stories to bring out the rich truth of the Scriptures. This was taught to me and caught by me in my mentor, Leonard Sweet, who charged all of us preach E.P.I.C. sermons (Experiential, Participatory, Image-rich, Connective). Succeeding in such an approach takes some time. I just pray and believe it is time well spent.
I’m not saying, however, that my rhythm is the right one. It will not be right in some contexts, and for some people. I don’t think my preaching is better because of the time I take, nor do I believe a sermon is better just because it is shorter. I think God gifts preachers in different ways, and that churches have different personalities.
All this is simply to say; Preachers, by God’s Spirit, for God’s glory, and for people’s good; Do your best. Swing for the fences. Give it all you have. Leave it all on the platform. Whether your messages are 10, 30, 45, or 60+ minutes, make sure that in your study, preparation, EPIC delivery, and for the folks listening, that it’s time well spent.