How Long to Preach

This is a very important question. I have heard sermons from 5 minute sermon-ettes to 1 1/2 hour lectures all under the term “sermon.” Personally, I attempt to preach between 25 and 35 minutes. I think that longer than that and people tend to only remember what you said towards the end, shorter than that and you can’t really lay down the groundwork to say something significant.

However, this is a personal thing. I have heard some strong preachers preach on a very interesting topic for an hour and have wondered where the time went. I have also heard dry ponderous presentations that felt like 2 hours when it was really 30 minutes. So I guess we have two points. The first point is to say something significant and needed and helpful. If you present something significant in an interesting way, then you will have few people disappointed in your length.

However your average preacher would do better to preach shorter sermons because it is easier for the people to process and it is easier for the preacher to stay interesting.

Comments

comments

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

Posted in blog, Preaching, Preaching Methods
2 comments on “How Long to Preach
  1. Pastor F. L. Patterson says:

    I have the best rule of thumb to be to be: “When the Spirit stops speaking to you; you stop speaking!” I find it amazing how the lay members in the church have set the standard or determine the length of a preacher’s sermon (25- 35 minutes). They can listen to one another in Sunday school or a ministry’s teaching session for an hour or more and not grow tire, but as soon as it becomes time for a sermon they are ready to place time constraints on the preacher. Is not the pastor responsible for the primary spiritual feeding of the flock?

  2. Sherman Haywood Cox II says:

    The length of everything is getting smaller inside and outside the church….it is the world we live in. we can ignore it, that is fine, but 1 hour presentations are no longer the norm as they once were in by gone eras.

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Revised Common Lectionary
Proper 14 (February 26, 2017)
  • OT: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
  • Psalm: Psalm 105: 1-6, 16-22, 45b
  • Epistle: Romans 10:5-15
  • Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33
Af Am Heritage Lectionary
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