The average movie in 2022 was 2 hours and 11 minutes.
The average broadway show aims for 2 hours and 30 minutes.
The average daily screen time in 2022 was 3 hours and 34 minutes.
The average NFL televised game is 3 to 4 hours.
The average sermon is about 36 minutes. Let that sink in.
Think of the comparison. The message of the preacher is one of truth and conviction, but yet we give it the least amount of time. In 2017, one individual recommended that a sermon be no longer than 35 minutes and the total church service be less than 75 minutes. Is it any wonder why over the last 5 years the beliefs of church goers have be more largely shaped by entertainment than by the local church? Just my opinion.
I heard this growing up, "The mind can only absorb what the seat can endure." While I agree that this is something we need to be conscious of, I wonder why so many pastors preach the greatest story in 25-30 minutes and expect that to make a difference in the remaining 10,050 minutes of their week. Now, I am not advocating for one hour or three hours messages, but I refuse to negate the potency of the Gospel to an 18 minute TED talk. I know, I know, I am going to get a ton of push back on this, but I believe we need to allow the WORD to work in people's lives and rushing the most important message and locking it into a 30-minute wrapped package with a nice bow may not be what is needed for that specific topic.
THE COOKIE CUTTER IS DEAD
I believe the church should stop thinking time and start thinking message. To say every message preached must be 30 minutes is the presumption that all material needs the same time to present it. Allow the Holy Spirit to lead you in sermon preparation, but also spontaneous moments where people need to hear, listen, and respond to the message. Some messages need to be prepared in a crockpot not in a microwave.
THE TRUTH NEEDS A PLATFORM
Present truth, not theories or opinions. Yes, our sermons will have some of our personality in it, but the emphasis should be on truth. When you are preaching on a hard cultural conflict with the Word of God TAKE YOUR TIME. Allow the Word to penetrate and do it's work in people's lives. Don't rush the most important message the world needs - God's Word. Give the Word the platform it deserves.
CHURCH IS THE HOPE
Pastors always say, "The church is the hope of the world." However, if we looked at the time we invest in church I don't think for the majority of Christians they flesh that out in daily life. If the church is the hope of the world the should give it more time than entertainment. Could it be that the world looks less at the church, because the church has lost value in itself? Now, I am not advocating 5 hour services, but what if the Holy Spirit fell so powerfully that no one wanted to leave for 5 hours. It's convicting because I ask myself that same question for church I lead.
CHRIST IS OUR PRIORITY
Let's demonstrate to the next generation that we can handle the Word of God. So, I say whatever timeframe a message requires preach it, turn it into a series, but do not rush the message, because Christ is our priority. Each pastor has to determine what works for them, but I think most people think of their preference or the people's attention span versus the priority of Christ's message.
Don;'t shortchange your people. I think they can handle 35 to 45 minute messages easily if its transformative, not just informative.
One time Paul was preaching a long sermon, so long in fact, a young man, fell asleep. He fell out of a window and died. Paul went and healed him. Then they had communion and he preached until morning (Acts 20). Wow. Don't just focus on the length, focus on the content and what God wants you to preach - preach! Even if it takes a little longer to slow-cook that sermon.
The church needs more meat and content. Give it to them. They are starving for truth. They are looking for a demonstration of power. Romans 1:16 declares, "For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work ..." The Good News is the power of God at work - and this world needs to see the power. So, preach longer, preacher!