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So what sermon myths should we bust? Here are six.
1. Sermons need to be short because people have tiny attention spans
Now that human beings apparently have a shorter attention span than goldfish (eight seconds), there’s pressure on preachers to be shorter.
Long sermons are almost always seen as a thing of the past.
I think we’ve framed the issue incorrectly.
We think that shorter equals more engaging.
It doesn’t. You can be short and boring. Or you can be longer and highly engaging.
Is there a perfect length for sermons?
Fifteen minutes of boring is 15 minutes too long. Forty minutes of fascinating is fascinating.
The average feature film hasn’t gotten any shorter in length. In fact, they’ve actually grown longer. The latest Star Wars installment and The Martian both did just fine at over two hours each.
The issue isn’t length. It’s engagement.
Your sermons don’t necessarily have to be shorter. They do need to be engaging.
2. Clear preaching is watered-down preaching
Many preachers have worked hard at becoming clearer in their communication.
Personally, I think that’s awesome.
But people mistake ‘clear’ for ‘watered-down’.
Does watered-down preaching exist? Sure it does. But being clear when you preach doesn’t mean you’re gospel-light. Clear preaching is not inherently watered-down preaching. It’s just clear.
More than any of us would care to admit, we’ve sat through a 45-minute message and then, an hour later, found ourselves completely unable to recall a single point that was made. What we experienced was a rambling message filled with obscure references and void of application to real life.
But because we don’t know what to call that, we too often call that style of preaching ‘deep.’ It’s not deep. It’s confusing.
As any preacher will tell you, it takes far more skill and hard to work to be clear than it does to be confusing.
Don’t criticize a preacher because he or she is clear.
In a culture in that is increasingly becoming post-Christian, clarity is our friend, not our enemy.
The last thing I want is for someone to walk away from the Gospel because they didn’t ever hear it. So be clear.