Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Pastors, here's a nugget for you from another discussion. Please pray, search your hearts, be honest, then add your comments.
One of my teacher/mentors told me that if you had a proper passage and were preaching a message (as opposed to giving an exegetical report or teaching a lecture), after 15 minutes you were repeating yourself. I've found that to be true.

When I go over that time (or actually about 20 minutes), I'm usually doing one of 3 preacher no-nos:

1. Trying to get my points across again because I didn't do well enough the first time. People don't need to pay because you didn't do well enough the first go-round. Prepare your sermon so that you are saying what you need to say in the best way possible. One definition of poetry is "the best way something may be said." Make your sermons poetic- struggle to make every phrase, every word, exactly what it should be. Then you don't need mulligans or do-overs.

2. Trying to include another sermon that I want the people to hear. If you are listening to God for what you are going to say, then trust God to give you the right message.
Now part of this may be indecision caused by a lack of Bible study and prayer about your messages. If you aren't sure that what you're saying is god's message for the week, the answer isn't to squeeze parts of 2 other messages in, but to seek God's face until you have God's message.
Also- if the Lord really is the Lord, your 20 minutes isn't the only message from God they hear this week. Trust the Spirit to work in you and others- God will speak to God's people- you're not the only voice they hear from God.

3. Adding unneeded fluff to the message God gave me. Again, poetry- make every thought, every illustration, every phrase, even every break (laughter, movement or change of topic)- serve the message God gave you for these people in this place and time.

The average adult in America today has a 26 minute span of conversation, broken into 5 minute segments. I'm not blaming TV, but there is a coincidence. Every time you go over 5 minutes, they need a break. If you don't give one, they'll take it anyway. And if you go over that time, you won't have the audience all with you for the whole thing.
If you really think more than 10% of your people are listening to the whole 40 minute message, do the math and think about your adult members so that you know I'm right, There may be 4 note-takers, but there are 5 guys who have been thinking about playoff scenarios for half of the message, 2 women who think dinner is burning (or today, that they need to make a call-ahead), and 3 young adults who need God's help with their thoughts about certain brothers or sisters in the church. Right?

Simply put- Your message should be able to be summarized in one sentence (remember the old thesis sentence in school? It still works!); have less than 5 points, and bring home one great truth of life in and with Christ in 20 minutes or less. Anything else is diluting the power of what you say, hurting the reputation of the preacher, and hindering people's learning in the Kingdom.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Pastor Joe. I feel that when preaching 20-30 min is significant time to get the message across. Many times a novice minister or someone who does not have the opportunity to preach on a regular basis will try to preach everything they know in one setting. Good work and have a great day.

    Pastor Chris