In praise of brevity

Having recently set a personal record for brevity in a Sunday morning sermon (at seven minutes), I was interested to see this over at ASBO Jesus.

What do you think, dear reader? Should sermons be very, very brief? Is there a point of diminishing returns? How long is too long?

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10 Responses

  1. Madge says:

    My mother always said, “you can say it once, or you can say it three times.”. Most 20 minute sermons are ten minute sermons dragged out.

  2. Barbara Baxter says:

    “Blessed are the brief, for they will be asked to preach again.”

  3. Joie says:

    Brief is good but it must be complete. Sometimes the listener needs to hear the same thing 3 times to get it. Still, most of my sermons are never over 7 minutes. We need to make one point and sometimes more or less background is needed in a world of theological and biblical illiteracy.

  4. Barbara Baxter says:

    Tongue in cheek… Fully agreed, Joie.

  5. Doug Morrison-Cleary says:

    Ummmm, Jesus’ sermon on the mount (which includes the beatitudes but lasts 3 whole chapters of Matthew) certainly takes more than 2 minutes! Indeed, more like 10 or 12 or more… And did you ever notice how many points Jesus made in that sermon? Like 20 maybe! Its about the worst sermon I’ve ever come across. It just jumps from one thing to the next to the next with no real common thread šŸ˜‰

  6. Matt Gunter says:

    I try to preach somewhere between “Sermonettes make Christianettes” and “The mind cannot absorb what the butt cannot endure”

  7. Matt Gunter says:

    It might be a preacher’s conceit, but I wonder if a good sermon can be a little longer and feel shorter than a bad short sermon.

  8. Stefani Schatz says:

    @Matt – I agree! just like good liturgy will not “feel” long while we all know what the bad feels like!

  9. frcraig says:

    I go about 12-13 minutes, but given how biblically ignorant we mostly are, I make a conscious attempt to tie the OT theme to the Gospel, which usually means some teaching about the OT. I was taught to ‘turn the jewel’, ie, make the same point in 2-3 slightly different ways, and that takes time. We only get these folks once a week – I’m not ashamed of taking some time…

  10. Bob Chapman says:

    Am I to conclude that the only words preached by Jesus are the ones found in Sacred Scripture?

    Is it not possible that, in the days before recording devices and stenographic machines, that whoever recorded the words that Jesus preached could only hit the high points along the way?

    Assuming my speculations to be right, my guess is that the Sermon on the Mount was an all day seminar (minus the Death by Powerpoint). Each of those points were filled in appropriately, in a coherent manner (to listeners of that day).

    Maybe the more important question for preachers is this: Can you do the Executive Summary of your sermon in under 2 minutes?

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