I was slightly taken aback when one of our church members – a friend and supporter of mine – joked to her husband that she listens to me 40-minutes every Sunday. Trust me, no one knows better than I do when I stray over my allotted time. In fairness, my sermons are typically about 30-minutes, not 40. A co-worker complained to me once that a particular sermon was 38-minutes (I could tell she had only checked the time stamp on the podcast and hadn’t listened to it. There was more recorded than the sermon and she hadn’t been in worship to hear it the first time. That sermon was 30-minutes). However, she was right in that my sermons are longer than (1) I was trained to make them, (2) have typically preached them in the past and (3) than I grew up hearing others preach their sermons.
What’s more, I’m not the only one who is preaching longer. I examined the podcasts I listen to weekly and began paying attention to the length of the sermons. I also paid closer attention to the communicators I watch online in the early hours of Sunday morning. In addition, I talked to local preachers and perused all types of church websites and I noticed something: Hardly anyone preaches 20-minutes sermons anymore! As a matter of fact, recently we had a family join our congregation only to leave a month later. When I encountered the husband one morning in BestBuy, he reluctantly confessed he left because of “the teaching.” Surprised by his bluntness, I stepped back. He continued, “Sorry, Pastor, It just wasn’t enough. I need an hour of teaching; 50-minutes at least.” Oddly, while attention spans in America may be getting shorter, sermons are getting longer. And there are 4 reasons why!