Yikes! Dr. Tom Long of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology said recent studies have shown that sermons are getting longer for the first time in decades.

It is hard to imagine, given the truth of the adage: The mind can only comprehend what the backside can endure.

Sitting in the same place for an extended period of time is something I avoid. That’s why movies are hardly ever in my plans. I’d rather walk around somewhere.

Interestingly, Dr. Long said younger preachers — who see themselves as primarily teachers — are blowing the curve. They will take 45 minutes or more to deliver the weekly goods.

Many preachers of my generation swore to never make pew sitters endure the longwinded sermons that were all too familiar to us from childhood.

(And, too often, long sermons are just shorter sermons subjected to repetition.)

Typically, we follow the advice of the late Dr. John Carlton, who taught preaching and worship to many of us: “If you can’t say it in 20 minutes, say it next Sunday.”

At the First Baptist Church of Chattanooga, Tenn., where I am pinch-preaching each Sunday, the quality of the sermon is not guaranteed. But one can be assured that it is never a marathon.

Listeners can only plan out their week and choose a lunch spot for so long. And maybe catch a little something in between that makes the week more meaningful and joyful.

Share This