Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone
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How Long Should A Sermon Be?

I was just engaged in an on-line conversation with a fellow preacher who asked "how long should a sermon be." Obviously, the various Christian traditions answer this differently as the sermon is of more or less central importance in different forms of worship.

Here is the answer I gave. I would be interested in hearing from you all, whether you are a preacher or not, what you think. How long do you think you should preach? How long do you like to be preached to, if at all?

I've been preaching weekly for about seven years now, and was preaching every other week for three years before that. I know that my preaching has evolved over the years. The most important thing, to me, about that evolution has been that my subject has increasingly been on Christ and the Gospel.

As far as time, I'm all over the map. Preaching in a liturgical (Anglican) church lends itself to shorter sermons. On Sundays I've preached 13 minutes and I've preached 27. 18 is always my goal, and 20 is where I usually end up. Oddly enough, I never look at a clock or a watch while I preach.

I asked an experienced and excellent preacher many years ago what he thought of sermon length. He said something very freeing. He said that every preacher, in his estimation, was a certain "length" of preacher. He said that he was a 30-35 minute preacher. That's how long it took him to do what he needed to do, and he had accepted that about himself. He told me to just go and preach over and over again, and that I would figure out what kind of preacher I was. So, I say I'm a 20 minute preacher. I wouldn't want any further rule than that.