Lane, I don't desire to be critical, and yet I can't agree with this. No pastor should use ANY time they're given to preach as an excuse to avoid proper preparation, but this cultural war on "time spent in church" is cultural, not biblical. I have yet to meet the individual who complains to a movie theater manager, coach, or referee for being at those sorts of events longer than expected. If you go to a 7pm showing of a two hour movie, you never leave at 9pm because that's the time you've allotted and won't stand for more. You sit through 10 minutes of previews and you leave when it's done. But in the Church, we show our desire for God by faithfully complaining about services that go too long--just curious, if you've got a couple services that hamper your time, and so are less flexible with going over, do even THOSE churches publicize a start AND end time? Or is this simply something people grow to expect, and assume? I also heard a musician in a popular Christian band say, "If you can't say it in 140 characters, you don't understand it well enough." As I understand it, this is a version of a quote that is attributed to Einstein, so it's got to be true...right? I was tempted to agree, even through my guilt and the thought that I must not understand ANYTHING, until I thought of the Word. Does God not understand what He needs to convey to us? Why did He waste all those words? "Dude, God, You lost Your audience, Buddy!" I jest, of course, but I think my point is clear. Sometimes our conventional wisdom, even when "Christianized" toward sermons, is less gospel truth than personal opinion. So when your article uses words like "rambling" and "killing" and engaging," your words are GIVEN meaning by context. And here I think the problem is less about length of messages and more about content. From Moses to David Platt to Chandler, their value and ability is not in themselves but the Lord they follow. There are better speakers than Platt or Chandler or (fill in the blank), but their notoriety is largely based on the accessibility of their teaching and the Spirit who works in them. The church size, platform, and a body's "diet" for the Word determine what's best in message length. Paul preached longer than any of our modern preachers and people stayed because of the hunger for the things of God. Today, our culture feeds the people of God the "McDonald's versions of scripture," so that's the diet we are used to. One last point: when a message is longer, you CAN have a pastor who rambles on. Or you can have a pastor who has the time to tie all of scripture together by addressing numerous passages that temper our natural, human tendency to air lift passages out of context and clobber our brothers and sisters with. It's not about trying to say everything in one message but having the time to tackle a biblical teaching faithfully, answer the congregation's potential questions, and still enjoy levity and release as a body of believers.
I know there are a number of perspectives on this issue, so what do you think?
Should messages be longer? Shorter? Stay the same?
What do you look for in a sermon, and what do you hope to take away?
What do you typically do with the messages you hear (or your average church experience as a whole)?
Leave your thoughts in the comments section.