Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How Long Should You Preach?

Years ago I heard someone ask John Maxwell, “How long should I preach?” Maxwell responded with, “How good are you?” There is probably some truth to the old adage, “there’s no such thing as a bad short sermon” (although I think I have heard a few, and probably have preached some). I once heard Bob Russell share his sermon length formula with a group of preachers. He said: Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10. Now subtract 2 (since most preachers overestimate their ability). And multiply by five minutes. So if a guy estimates that he is an “8”, he drops it down to a “6” and multiplies by five minutes – that equals a 30 minute sermon.

We are told that people have short attention spans these days, so we should preach short(er) messages (my sermons average about 25 minutes). Yet I listen to preaching podcasts of some of the fastest growing churches in America – guys like Andy Stanley, Mark Driscoll, and Perry Noble, and they regularly preach for nearly an hour – sometimes even longer than that (well, mostly Driscoll). These lengthy sermons don’t seem to be hindering the growth of their churches. What’s the deal?

What say you? What is the perfect sermon length?


Anonymous said...

25-30 minutes. Any shorter and there is not enough time for ideas to be developed. Any longer and you will lose most of your audience no matter how good the sermon is.

Anonymous said...

I tend to disagree with the idea that shorter is better.

I work with college students...who tend to have notoriously short spans of attention.

Usually, I teach around 35 minutes. Occasionally 45. Last night, my message was right at 1 hour.

And I got some of the best responses.

I think, as long as it has substance, people will hang on. We don't give the folks listening to us enough credit. And thus, we short-change them.

My $.02.


William Mckinley Dyer said...

The idea we have short attention spans is dumb. Yes we do but we only do bc we have been conditioned that way and we can re-condition ourselves out of them. If u consistently preach for lets say 45 min then people will begin to feel a 30 min sermon is short. There is no perfect sermon length.

Joe said...

I'd agree that you are a 5. :)