How Long Should A Preacher Preach?

How Long Should A Preacher Preach? Bible Question.

Question:

“Our preacher preaches a long sermons (about 75 minutes). He says he needs the time to say all that needs to be said. He is a good speaker, but I think he loses most of his audience. How long should a preacher preach?”

Answer:

The Scripture gives no rules for sermon length, which makes the whole issue a matter of opinion. The Bible does record several sermons, none of which would take more than a few minutes to read out loud. Stephen preaches through almost the entire seventh chapter of Acts. But, if you read the text aloud to an audience it would require only a few minutes. Even Jesus’ sermon on the mount can be spoken in less than twenty minutes.

On the other hand, we are told of sermons that took much longer. Peter’s sermon on Pentecost takes only a few minutes to read aloud, but the Bible tells us . . .

And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” – Acts 2:40 (New American Standard Bible)

Peter’s recorded sermon is brief, but he preached much longer that those few minutes. Paul preached to the church at Troas. We are not sure when the assembly gathered for worship, but we do know . . .

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together. And there was a young man namedEutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead. But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” When he had gone back up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left. They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.” – Acts 20:7 – 12

Which brings us to the point of preaching in the first place. Preaching is not about making points or covering all the facts in a given topic. It is about teaching people truth and connecting the Word of God with their lives. As Paul said to the Corinthians about their worship. . .

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. – 1 Corinthians 14:26

The point of a song, a prayer or a sermon is to spiritually strengthen and build people up in the assembly. A speaker who goes too long will soon stop edifying anyone. How long is “too long”? It’s subjective. Ultimately, all of this is a judgment call. The preacher is to be sensitive to what God wants him to communicate as well as the needs and consideration of his audience.

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2 comments on “How Long Should A Preacher Preach?

  1. I think part of the issue is audience perception. A sermon could be an hour long but it could it feel like it’s only been 20 minutes. On the other hand, a pastor can preach for 20 minutes but make it feel like it’s already been an hour.

    • I agree Brian. Whether it’s the preacher or his audience, everyone should be graceful and considerate. A church culture/atmosphere that encourages open feedback would be great as well.

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