Banner: Blog

Brevity of Sermons

Brevity of Sermons

By Pastor Scott Thomas

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit…
I will be brief.
~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Church planters generally have a lot of vision, passion, drive and urgency to communicate the Good News to others. How do these excellent characteristics translate into the sermon length—particularly for those of us who have a high view of Scripture?

The length of a sermon does not necessarily equate to a message centered on the Gospel. A good sermon may be long, but rarely is a long sermon good. Just because some great communicators preach for an hour, does not mean that it is the new covenant for church planters.

It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what other men say in whole books - what other men do not say in whole books.  ~Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

I am not a fan of Brazilian steakhouses. You know, the ones where natural omnivores become ravenous carnivores. I prefer to eat a 6 oz. filet mignon, savoring its succulent juices with every bite. Too much great steak is still, well, too much. Sermons that are too long, although filled with great content, are received like that Brazilian waiter with his twelfth serving of the night at your table.

Good things, when short, are twice as good.  ~Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

The perfect sermon length is hard to determine. Whenever I preach, I tell the production manager to set the clock at either 30 or 35 minutes. They normally tell me that I could go 50 minutes. I tell them that it is much easier to preach 50 minutes than 30. It takes more study and concentration and I think it is more powerful. When I preach for 50 minutes, I jog. When I preach for 30 minutes, I sprint. Who wants to sit and watch someone jog around a track? Give me a 4X100 relay instead.

It is with words as with sunbeams.  The more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.  ~Robert Southey

Below are my 7 brief points to ponder when preparing to preach.

  1. Be Concise
  2. Be Consistent
  3. Be Correct
  4. Be Christ-centered
  5. Be Charismatic (defined as compelling charm)
  6. Be Compassionate
  7. Be (more) Concise

The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.  ~Thomas Jefferson

I’d like to say more, but that would be hypocritical…

1 Comments

Benjamin Holvey

on Jul 19, 2011 :: 1:31 am

For a congregant of Jonathan Edwards' church in Northampton, MA during the mid-eighteenth century, an hour-long sermon probably would have been short.

Name: