How Long a Sermon Should Be?

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 the 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.

One group is advocating longer sermons; the other group embraces the shorter sermon. What do you think of the two trends moving in opposite directions?


25 Responses to How Long a Sermon Should Be?

  1. Joe Absher July 4, 2018 at 4:16 am #

    It’s a interesting piece. I was recently at a service the young minister spoke for approximately 30 minutes. He taught out of 1 Peter 1:23 being again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.”
    He really handled the word of God well. Afterwards we talked. He recently graduated with a master’s in divinity. He said it took him ten hours to prepare. I mention this because preparation is an important factor for a “sermon” of any length. Maybe it should be part of the conversation.
    Along those lines it might be mentioned also sermons have many settings. So the question could be asked does the sermon serve the setting, or does the setting serve the sermon? The sermon being defined in simplest terms, a presentation of Bible truth.

  2. Troy Day July 4, 2018 at 8:18 am #

    25 min tops – Terry Wiles Michael Ellis Carter Jr.

  3. Terry Wiles July 4, 2018 at 8:22 am #

    40 minutes on weekends. 1-2 hours in teaching sessions

  4. Troy Day July 4, 2018 at 8:58 am #

    40 wow? Have never had much luck with 400+ congregation on a Sunday. 45min per session when e have all day seminars is OK

    • Terry Wiles July 4, 2018 at 10:01 am #

      People are hungry for the word of God. They are turned off by hype. Sermon must have substance. Most large churches have sermons of that length. At least the ones I am aware of. Unless of course they are in the ‘bible belt’ where everyone has already decided and are waiting to get out to fill the restaurants or go to the football game. That just my observation.

  5. Michael Ellis Carter Jr. July 4, 2018 at 9:45 am #

    I think it depends on the culture and structure of the church. In most settings 24-30 minutes is long enough

  6. Jan Dixon Sykes July 4, 2018 at 10:24 am #

    Just get me out at noon. My blood sugar drops & anything you say after that is “noise.” If you gotta preach longer, cut the 45 minute song service to 20 minutes. Just remember, in today’s culture, you are competing with better music and better sermons on XM radio. The only reason we need “church” anymore is the fellowship of believers. ……………. Besides, sermons were started back when the population was basically illiterate. We can now read the text ourselves & can expound on what we read better than most of the expository sermons I’ve heard. Tell me something I DON’T know if you want me to listen.

  7. Troy Day July 4, 2018 at 2:04 pm #

    Jan Dixon Sykes Same with Trump Dont jog and eats cheese burgers Michael Ellis Carter Jr. I very much like to HOW exactly do you clock yourself @ 24min. Have you ever gone 24 and a half?

    • Troy Day July 4, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

      Joe Absher is an expert I feel a calling here

    • Joe Absher July 4, 2018 at 7:16 pm #

      Copper? Inner city. They have a new product called flex it’s great fast and easy. I’m no plumber though.

    • Joe Absher July 4, 2018 at 7:20 pm #

      Sounds like a preacher that knows his material. Some of the old timers could give you a lifetime of learning in ten minutes. Make you sit up and button your shirt.
      …just saying

    • Michael Ellis Carter Jr. July 4, 2018 at 8:19 pm #

      Joe Absher repair just dismissed a day ago with pvc. Yeah inner city but not a bad neighborhood. I guess it does not matter though. They got me for a lot of copper though.

    • Joe Absher July 4, 2018 at 8:59 pm #

      The devil is a liar. Born and raised.

  8. Patricia Gardner Smith July 4, 2018 at 2:34 pm #

    Eat a large breakfast and give the man of God his time to deliver the word from God.Which is usually 45minutes to an hour.It is a shame to put God on a timetable.

  9. Jerome Herrick Weymouth July 4, 2018 at 10:15 pm #

    I knew a man who did his sermons in 20 minutes… He say if you didn’t get in in 20 you never would if he went for 45 minutes.

  10. Troy Day July 4, 2018 at 10:16 pm #

    ha – seems you know me IRL then 🙂 or heard me

  11. Jerome Herrick Weymouth July 4, 2018 at 10:22 pm #

    There are many like you…I went to Billy Graham’s at the Rosebowl one year…he preached for 15 minutes and gave an altar call and thousand came to Christ.
    My old pastor preaches 1 and 1/2 hours and nobody responds to the altar call.

  12. Troy Day July 4, 2018 at 10:25 pm #

    Not as many as we need right now. Teaching is one thing. I understand that but preaching. If you cant say it in 25min you just cant say Get over with it

    I was there in 1994 in Indianapolis when Benny Hinn preached for roughly 12min and world heavy weight champion Evander Holyfield got saved. This was about the same time Mike Tyson had bit his year off so the Lord healed and restored that too

    Also, if you cant preach it without power point presentation you just cant preach it Get over it #noughsaid

    • Troy Day July 5, 2018 at 12:36 pm #

      yap -seen it with my own eyes

  13. Jerome Herrick Weymouth July 4, 2018 at 10:39 pm #

    I knew a Foursquare preacher who gave everybody a outline and id look at it and knew what he was going to say…I would get bored with him minor points and want him to hurry up. So I prefer to open my Bible and take notes…When I am listening to a preacher.

  14. Jeanny Calderón July 5, 2018 at 8:19 pm #

    In the church I attend it’s one hour and sometimes even more. But we are a small congregation, with the majority of the age 50 and more.

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