Thursday, May 24, 2012
Leaders... speak truth // shut up // sit down! Why less is more when it comes to delivering a message
I once saw a Facebook post from a church planter that made me wince at little. OK. A lot.
He wrote, “Who's got two thumbs and the guts to preach an hour long sermon on Hell, and another hour long sermon on Satan...THIS GUY DOES!!!!!!!! All praise and Glory to HE who LIVES!”
I tried to let it go. But I couldn’t. I felt some hubris in his words. I wondered if he would let me meddle a little. So, I sent a personal message, “Question. Do you think it might be serving your people better by preaching 4 30 minute messages on Satan and Hell rather than 2 60 minute messages?”
He quickly responded, “I usually preach for about 45 minutes but I preached a little longer on Hell a couple of weeks ago and a little longer this morning on the person and work of Satan. Looking back, I think maybe doing a shorter sermon over a few weeks may be a better way to go. Any advice? Thank you SO much!”
He opened the door for me to meddle. Here’s my advice to him:
“I know that at CVC we are trying to hit the 35 minute mark. 30 would probably be better. I can often go for 40, even 45.
“I don't like it when I do that. I think it's a sign that I didn't really do my homework. It's harder work to eliminate the extra stuff to get the message to 30-35 minutes.
“If you see that small group discipleship is where the action really takes place, then you aren't tempted to dump the whole load on everybody in every Sunday's sermon.
“And, remember, if the Lord doesn't come back for a while, you'll have several decades to preach. So, don't try to cram so much into each message.
“I also think that the 35 year old husband and father (our target at CVC) is not able to stay with us consistently for 40-45 minutes. They mentally check out and, sometimes, they physically do, too. They just don't come back because they can't absorb all our theological nuggets of gold.
“Finally, I think that the Driscolls and the Chandlers and the Platts can go longer than most of us. But the last time I checked, I'm not one of those guys! My attention-retaining gifts are not as top-shelf as theirs. I'm just me and maybe all people need to hear from me is 30-35 minutes worth.
“So, those are just a few of my thoughts. But as you know, you have to follow the Lord's lead, brother. Why not talk with your team (and some people who have left the church) about it? And tell them to tell you the truth.”
So, what do you think is an ideal target for the length of a message?