How long should a sermon be? As long as it needs to be.
People don’t hate long sermons.
They hate boring sermons. Irrelevant sermons. Impractical sermons. Uninspiring sermons. Unprepared sermons. Over-prepared sermons… You get the idea.
A bad sermon can’t be short enough, but an engaging sermon can go longer than you think.
However, before you let your next sermon drone on and on, make sure it’s everything it needs to be.A Tale Of Two Sermons
Recently, I heard two sermons that went well over 45 minutes each. Both were good. They had great content and I was moved by them.
One of them, while good, would have been even better with some editing. The speaker could have dropped up to 50 percent of it and a very good sermon could have been a great one. The other sermon, though long, felt rushed. It could have gone 10-15 minutes longer and no one in the room would have complained.
The issue wasn’t the length, or even the quality of the sermons, but the fit. One sermon was the right fit for the content and left us wanting more, while the other was too long for the content and left us wanting less.
A better question than “what’s the right length for a sermon?” is “what’s the right length for this sermon?” or “what length of time will help it do everything it needs to do in the best possible way?”Make Room For What Needs To Be Said
Too often, we limit what we can do with a sermon by the format of the church service.
Why not give the sermon the time it needs by putting a little wiggle room in our Sunday service format?
Got a short sermon? Let the worship go longer. Got a long sermon? Maybe get to it earlier in the service than you usually would so the worship and announcements don’t crowd it out.
People have longer ...
Three tips from my own experience as a church planting leader.
Many frequently joke about the turnover rate in church planting leadership. It seems that whenever I’m at a conference or church event, someone new will come up and say, “Hey, Ed. I’m the new leader of church planting at [insert denomination name].”
To be fair, this issue happens across denominations—it’s not just certain ones in certain parts of the country. It happens at the district, network, and denominational levels.
Church planting requires a certain set of skills—organization, initiative, patience, and passion, just to name a few. These skills are especially required for a church planting leader. To last long term in this capacity without burnout requires some forethought and consideration. Here are some thoughts on how to lead well in this position
First, dedicate yourself to being an advocate.
As a leader of church planting, it’s important to remember that you are not actually a church planter; the roles are different. You aren’t the official doer of all things church planting—you are, by definition, the one who helps organize and oversee the work being done by church planters out on the field.
Church planting leaders who enter into the territory of their church planters in a micromanaging sort of way ultimately undermine their own authority at one time or another. Simply put, if you find yourself frequently saying to the church planters you oversee, “this is what you should do” or “this is how I did it” and “this is how I’m going to do it,” know that this approach is unhelpful in the long term.
For many who work under the leadership of a denomination, your advocacy has to be directed upwards. It’s your job to work ...
Small church ministry isn’t about following trends, it’s about knowing people.
If you worship or serve in a smaller church, you may have read those articles and shrugged, or maybe you saw the titles and didn’t even bother to read them.
I don’t blame you.
While our brothers and sisters in bigger churches look for trends, compare notes and learn from the latest innovations, small churches usually let those trends pass us by without a ripple.
It’s not because small churches don’t care, it’s because current trends almost never apply in smaller churches the way they do in bigger ones.
Here’s why.The Unique DNA Of The Small Church
The smaller the church is, the more unique their DNA is.
Especially in a church of 75 or fewer (that’s over half the churches), the mix of personalities makes every church a unique place.
The bigger the church becomes, the less each individual personality affects the whole, so it becomes more helpful to know the latest trends. Not necessarily to keep up with them, but to have the ability to speak into them.
But when a church is small, it isn’t nearly as important to know the latest trends as it is to know the individual people in your congregation and your surrounding neighborhood. To know their needs, their histories, their strengths, their personalities and their relationship with Jesus (or lack of).Knowing People, Not Trends
If you pastor a church of 50 in an agricultural community, you don’t need to use the latest social media app. If you oversee a small denominational church in a once thriving, but now dying inner city, you don’t need to study blogs about the latest church trends.
In both situations, you need ...
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Simple steps to help you prepare better, preach stronger and have a greater impact.
One of the greatest challenges of pastoring is coming up with something fresh to say to the same people week after week.
As a pastor, I’ve been preaching for over 30 years. Over 4,000 messages. For many years I would regularly run out of things to say – or, more accurately, new ways to reinforce the same foundational truths - but Sunday was coming whether I was ready or not.
If you’re the preaching/teaching pastor, you know the feeling. The Saturday Night Dread. The “what am I going to say this week that they haven’t all heard 100 times before?” panic.
It still happens to me occasionally, but it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, because over the last three decades I’ve learned a few tools that reduce the pressure and make Preacher’s Block a little less frequent.What To Talk About?
The main issue in Preacher’s Block is coming up with a subject. An idea valid enough to be worth saying, but fresh enough to keep people’s interest.
That’s easy when the audience is new. Or when you’re new to them. But when you’ve been at the same church for years, even decades, you can’t keep saying what you’ve said before – even (especially) if you’re reinforcing the same foundational Bible principles you’ve taught dozens of times.
Over the decades I’ve discovered a handful of tools that help in this task. They’re not the “right” way to preach and/or prepare. They’re some tools that work for me. And maybe they’ll help you, too.1. Preach In A Series
Yeah, I know. This is not exactly a new idea. But of all the ways to reduce the “what am I going to preach about?” panic, this is the best one, ...