When ns was young, we watched a movie around a pastor’s family. The movie family members had different signals castle would usage for their preacher dad in situation he necessary help.

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They had signs for your dad speak the dorn thing, his zipper was unzipped, or also if he to be preaching as well long. If the sermon went long, they would certainly smile a big, toothy grin.

As pastor’s kid, this was the authorize my brother and also I were many interested in.

When the following Sunday rolling around, my brother and I were ready and sitting top top the very very first row. Approximately 10 or 15 minutes into his sermon, we started offering him full-teeth, 100-watt smiles.

My dad ignored united state at first, but eventually he caught on, laughed, and also said he might also shut the sermon under at that suggest because he no getting earlier to it. Mine brother and also I were pretty pleased v ourselves.

Naturally, when I started preaching, i remembered those moments as a pastor’s kid and also ran as far away from mine childhood choices as i could.

For the first 15 years of my ministry, i confidently preached more than 45 minutes for each sermon.

I was convinced the only way to rightly define the text was by preaching at least that lengthy every week. That readjusted for me about a year or two ago.

A few friends propelled me to consider whether the messages can be far better heard, received, and processed if ns was to preach a tiny shorter.

I resisted at first, yet ultimately made decision to test it out. I was yes, really surprised by what i found.

I discovered I to be able to basically say the exact same thing in 35 minutes that I used to to speak in 45 minutes. I simply had actually to remove redundancy.

When I taught longer, ns didn’t have to deliver more content as lot as i used more words to communicate the same truths.

Becoming an ext time conscious, I believe I preach an ext effectively by concentrating on precision, clarity, and also concision.

This theory has been tested every the an ext in the last couple of months as COVID-19 has actually disrupted all of our patterns, and our church, like most other churches, has actually moved come a virtual design for ours weekly praise times.

Virtual praise time forced us come think even an ext compactly, together we believe engagement increases if we save our virtual time to less than one hour.

I’ve been functioning to preach 28 minutes every week and have mostly been may be to stay within those constraints.

The recent Lifeway research study study on sermon length indicates I’m simply now recording up to many of the preaching world, together the majority of good news pastors claim to preach 30 minutes or less, and 85% preach 40 minute or much less each week.


Protestant churchgoers seem to want shorter sermons, together 45% like 30 minute or less, and 70% favor no longer than 40 minutes.

Those are startlingly high numbers for those of united state who may have historically believed that when it comes to sermons, “the longer the better.”

When ns look across my very own experience about the world, and also my knowledge of history, ns don’t think there’s a clear, biblical expectation because that sermon length.

In at the very least one instance, Paul taught so long, someone saw sleep, fell out the a window, and died (Acts 20:9). Ns don’t think I’d introduce that together a sermon strategy.

The truth is the context, and the text itself, are most likely the most crucial parameters to shape your sermon.

If you deserve to spend sufficient time come rightly explain, illustrate, and also apply the text in her context, you’ve succeeded.

Still, I’ve found much shorter sermons, or in ~ least shorter than was usual for me, have become more effective than much longer sermons.

Anecdotally, I’ve discovered sermons in the realm of 28-35 minutes have greater engagement and retention from the congregation.

As a pastor, remaining in this time variety has required me to become clearer, an ext precise, and an ext confident through respect come the biblical text.

That to be counterintuitive come me, and yet ns think God is blessing united state as we make this change.

Preaching much shorter sermons has actually made me a much better preacher and also has elevated the bar on exactly how my sermons affect the congregation.

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Micah Fries


Micah is the director of Engagement in ~ Glocal.net and the director of programs at the Multi-Faith Neighbor’s Network. He has served as a pastor in the unified States and as a Christian minister in Burkina Faso, West Africa.