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How Long to Preach: The Eternal Question

Hold Their Interest

OK, I hear some of you still want a number. I hear you asking, “but how long?” Bear with me just a bit more. Let me say this: many preachers overestimate their ability to hold an audience.

I know: Fredrick D. Haynes III preaches for an hour; but you’re not Freddy Haynes, and neither am I. So keep in mind that it is easy to lose your people and have them only check back in during the whoop.

So the next thing to keep in mind when determining how long to preach is to recognize our ability to hold our audience. Note that the material will greatly affect this. I can remember sitting in college lectures where I was barely awake after 20 minutes of the professor’s droning. However, other professors were so great at holding the interest of the students that 2 hours simply flew by.

A preacher can keep the people on board with a number of “mini-celebrations” during a sermon. These celebrations point to the ultimate one at the end and they also keep your people engaged. In any case, one should recognize that our ability to hold the attention of the congregation should also affect how long we preach.

OK Give Me A Number

One preacher said “have a strong introduction and conclusion and make the middle as short as possible.” There is wisdom there. Personally, I attempt to preach 25-35 minutes. As noted above, the main point is to preach one sermon (meaning one major point and everything in the sermon related to that point). But if you are going to force me to give a number I would say 25-35 minutes.

Let me close with some valuable advice . . . If half of your congregation is asleep, shorten your sermons!!!

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Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.