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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Father and Son: Both Elders?

Father and Son: Both Elders? Bible Question.

Question:

“Is it scriptural for a father and his son both to be elders in the same congregation at the same time?”

Answer:

While the Scriptures give clear standards for the lifestyle of an elder (1 Timothy 3:1 – 7; Titus 1:5 – 9), there is little in Scripture to indicate the composition of the men who make up a church’s eldership. We are not told how many elders to have in a church, only that there should be more than one (Acts 14:23). We are not told if some are to be older and others younger, or all about the same age. We are not told if they are to be retired, or still pursuing a career. I believe God left out such details on purpose to allow congregations to have freedom to exercise their collective wisdom in these matters.

All of this means the Bible is silent on your question. That makes the decision about having family members serve together a decision based on human wisdom and opinion. The Scriptures do tell us that family members can serve in positions of leadership together . . .

  • The apostles Peter and Andrew were brothers (John 1:40).
  • The apostles James and John were brothers (Mark 1:19).
  • Barnabas and John Mark were cousins (Colossians 4:10) and they worked together on the first missionary journey with Paul.

There can be risks in having family members serve together; of that there can be little doubt. Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways over Barnabas’ cousin John Mark (Colossians 4:10). This relationship may have influenced the break up between Barnabas and Paul . . .

Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.Acts 15:37 – 39 (New American Standard Bible)

We are not told that Barnabas’ relationship to Mark was part of the reason he defended him, but it is not hard to suppose that a cousin would give a relative the benefit of the doubt more readily than a non-relative.

So, it comes down to what is best for the local church. If both father and son are godly men with the qualities Paul lays down in the books of 1 Timothy and Titus, there is nothing to prohibit them from serving as elders together. There may be other reasons that make it unwise (such as nepotism, favoritism, etc.) but that is a human judgment that only the local church members can make and apply to their own situation.

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Can The Church Hire A Secretary?

Can the church hire a secretary? Bible Question.

Question:

“I have been a church secretary for many years. But some of the men here object to the Lord’s money being used to pay a woman, that it gives her too much control. They also think the elders should find some other way to get the work done. I want to do what’s right, so is it right for me to be the secretary?”

Answer:

The apostle Paul had an “amanuensis“, which simply means he had someone to do his writing for him (Romans 16:22; Galatians 6:11; etc.). It just doesn’t make good sense to “hire a preacher” and then have him spend most of his time doing “secretarial work”. He should be free to study, prepare lessons, visit the members and reach the lost.

Most congregations find it expedient to hire a secretary (or an administrative assistant) to prepare paperwork, write letters, administer websites/social media, answer the phones, maintain church records, manage inventory for various church departments, keep up with members’ needs, etc. If it was good for Paul to have a secretary, it usually makes sense for a preacher today to have one.

I seriously doubt that there will ever come a time when every member of a congregation agrees with the elders’ decisions as to how to spend “the Lord’s money”. But someone must make the decision as to how the money is spent, and the Lord has designated the elders to be the “overseers” of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1 – 3).

It is certainly scriptural for the church to hire a secretary. And if the elders decide it is expedient to do so, it is their right to make that decision. The admonition then is given to the members of that congregation . . .

“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” Hebrews 13:17 (New International Version)

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