Help, My Pastor Preaches too Long #OurCOG

Have you ever sat through a movie that seemed like it wouldn’t end. Maybe it was a class where after a certain period of time it seemed like you checked out. I am sure that if your a Pastor you imagine each person sitting through your sermon never wanting it to end because it is so engaging and life changing. If I can be so blunt, as a Pastor I feel like I spend too much time on each message. I am sure that many of those who are listening to us feel the same way.

I am looking for some feedback…

  • As a Pastor when your in the congregation listening to another speaker, how long do you want them to speak?
  • As a Pastor how long do you normally spend delivering your message, do you think those your preaching to wishes you would shorten it up a bit?
  • As a church attendee if you could be open an honest with your Pastor, what would be the ideal time for this Sunday’s sermon?
  • As an attendee, how long does your Pastor normally spend on his message, is it too long?
  • Please take a moment to leave your thoughts in the comments. I look forward to reading your responses.

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    12 thoughts on “Help, My Pastor Preaches too Long #OurCOG

    1. I think a pastor should preach NO MORE than 30 minutes. My Father-in-law used to say, “If you havesn’t struck oil in 30 minutes, stop boring!”

    2. Length of sermon should not be the focus but content and anointing of the sermon, example a great sermon i can listen to for a while, Bishop Earnest Quinley or a Dr Paul Walker can speak as long as they would like and i would listen ,while others 10 minutes are to long. After 17 yrs of being a pastor myself i would say, speak for and with God, when its time have an altar call that will not take long because i need to get out of the way and let God work.

      • Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the points you brought up about the content and allowing the Holy Spirit to do the work. I also believe that there is another variable to consider as well which was the basis for this post. That’s the attention span of the listeners. To put it another, how long can they sit before they “check out.”

        Each person and congregation bus different and I was hoping to get some feed back as far as time goes. I am interested, as a Pastor, on average how long did you normally preach?

        As you were speaking did you ever notice after a certain amount of time the people becoming unsettled and ready
        to go?

        Do you think it wise or unwise to take that into consideration when preparing to deliver a sermon, with the understanding that if the Holy Spirit has other plans or directs you to go longer you yield to His moving?

        Thanks again for the comment, I appreciate the dialog.

    3. I teach via manuscript so I count words. My messages range from 2,400 words to 4,000 words, depending on how much scripture I’m reading (versus story-telling). My message lengths average between 33-37 minutes, though there are times I’m slightly over 40 minutes, which I always consider too long. I do believe 30 minutes is a good barometer.

      However, I think change within the message is much MORE important. They say [I don’t know who “they” is] that people start checking out after about 11 minutes, but it would be hard to deliver an effective message every week in that length of time. So I believe the key is change. Every 5-10 minutes or so, you have to give your audience/congregation a break of some kind, like a personal example, clever illustration, or re-direct–something to re-grab their attention.

      To answer your specific questions:

      I have noticed people becoming unsettled, and it’s very unsettling. 🙂

      I think it’s EXTREMELY WISE to consider length–I like the “stop boring” line above.

      • Thanks for your input Preston. It sounds like you are conscious to the attention span of your listeners and have a good grasp on your speaking habits as well as what method works best for you (as far as manuscript goes).

        Though I’ve been preaching for sometime, here recently I’ve noticed that I may be going too long. I’ve been trying to keep an eye out on when I notice that the majority of those I am speaking to are done. Not that they are done in a bad way. Though many at North Aiken are gracious and hang with me, I feel that if I can find out that medium time frame that they are more attentive to and stay within it it will benefit not only my prep time but also their lives.

        Over the past few months I have felt that if I can stay between 20-25 min it would be more beneficial to listeners.

        • I definitely will Preston. I will keep you posted with how it goes. I know some people would presume that I am putting too much emphasis on the time, but I’m really not. I have just begun to notice at about what time people tend to check out (again not in a bad way).

          I have also had this strong sense that it is important to understand the congregation God has called you to minister to and work in a way that you can inspire an help lead them towards deeper maturity in Christ. If I am speaking for 45 and they are currently wired at 25-30 then there are 15 minutes where there not growing. Again, it’s not my intent to over complicate, I just want to be a good steward of the time that others give to hear the word.

          My ideal would be to spend no more than 3-5 min getting to the point, 15 expounding on the point, and then 3-5 closing it out. I am a long way from there but I feel that those I am ministering to would grow more from that length then what I am currently doing.

          Now that isn’t to say that I wouldn’t yield to the Holy Spirit if going longer or shorter was necessary. If he directs otherwise then I would just say as Tony Capps does, yea God. Then I would add a lets ride 😉

    4. I think that if we are really honest, if godly people who are known to have a heart for God and an appetite for his word are complaining about the length of our messages, the chances are pretty good that we have fallen down in at least one of two areas when it comes to our preparation:

      1. We have been too repetitive and have said the same point 40 different ways. I know as Pentecostals we don’t have a zeal for writing things down, but if we discover we are being too repetitive, it may be a good practice to at least use an outline on index cards or something like that at least temporarily until we can reestablish verbal discipline.

      2. The points we have made have been more theoretical than practical. Most people don’t take the time to think about the fact that it is possible to be “biblical” and still not be relevant. For example, if most of our Sunday morning messages are built around bringing people to faith or the backslidden to repentance when most of the church that we pastor are genuinely trying to serve God to the best of their ability and understanding, then we are being more evangelistic in our role when we need to be more pastoral and as a result our message, no matter how well intentioned or valuable in another context, is largely irrelevant to our current setting. This matters because any person who cannot translate our message in a relevant way for his or her life will feel it is too long even if it is short! On the other hand, people tend to be much more forgiving about length when they make meaningful connections to their present situation.

    5. As a pastor listening to another pastor, I do find myself critically evaluating the sermon-the intro, points, conclusion, body language, relatability etc., but honestly, the only time I’m concerned about length is when the speaker is chasing rabbit trails or there’s simply no way I can understand what he/she us trying to say, and if you’re wondering, yes, I’ve heard a message or two like that.
      I typically preach anywhere from 27-40 minutes depending on the flow of the service/Spirit. Although I’m sure there are those that would like me to preach shorter at times, the complaints I receive is, “You didn’t preach long enough.”
      My personal opinion, if I had to place a time restriction on preaching it would be around 30-35 minutes. Ultimately though, I think we should ask ourselves a few questions such as, “What/how can I present to these precious people in a way that will engage them and capture there full attention?” “How can I meet them right where they are?” “What is one sentence out of my whole message that they will remember for quite some time?” There’s more, but you get the point. It all starts with prayer! Ask God to help you relate to people and deliver a timely Word that will effect the hearts of the hearers. Although notes are good, ask Him to help you follow His leading rather than simply being glued to a piece of paper or a tablet screen. Make eye contact, engage with the people. Give them something applicable that they can remember.

    6. put a note in your tithe envelope that you are going to withhold your tithes and will be seeking another church – that usually work well.

    7. Pingback: HELP, MY PASTOR PREACHES TOO LONG #OURCOG : Pentecostal Theology

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