Thom Rainer undertook an unscientific survey via Twitter to discover how long pastors preach. Admittedly, how long a pastor perceives his sermon to be and its actual length may be different. But as Rainer notes, "I do believe most pastors watch the clock rather carefully."
Here's what pastors reported:
Less than 15 minutes - 1%
15 to 20 minutes - 1%
21 to 25 minutes - 5%
26 to 30 minutes - 18%
31 to 35 minutes - 23%
36 to 40 minutes - 18%
41 to 45 minutes - 26%
46 to 50 minutes - 1%
51 to 55 minutes - 4%
56 to 60 minutes - 1%
More than 60 minutes - 1%
The findings fit into a class bell-curve with only 6% preaching less than 25 minutes, and only 6% preaching longer than 50 minutes. Most (85%) preach between 26 and 45 minutes.
Without historical data it's difficult to say whether sermons are getting longer or shorter on average. The more interesting part of Rainer's report may be the gap in perceptions between pastors and laity. He says the some pastors would prefer to preach longer but feel constrained by schedules. Among church member, however, none reported that their pastor's sermons were too short.
The takeaway? Plenty of folks may complain if a sermon is too long, but it's unlikely anyone will grumble about a sermon being too short. If you wish your sermons could be longer, you're probably the only one.
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