Monday, September 13, 2010

Balanced preaching

Recently an observation was made to me which suggested that preachers often do not get the timing of sermons right - specifically, not knowing when to stop. In other words, do preachers say too much? This issue is the same whether one is preaching short, medium or long sermons. Let me explain: suppose that the timing of a particular service (e.g. an 8 am service which needs to finish around 8.45 am - 8.50 am because another service begins at 9.15 am) requires the sermon to be of 6 - 8 minutes duration. If, under these circumstances, the preacher has delivered the message (introduction, argument, illustration, application) in 5 minutes but continues talking for another 90 seconds, even though the whole falls within the accepted time limit, the congregation has heard the message-plus-flim-and-flam! Ditto a service in which it is accepted that a longer, expository sermon will be delivered between 30 and 40 minutes in length: if the message with all its points, illustrations, exegetical wrestling with the passage, and applications has been delivered in 32 minutes, but continues for another 3 minutes, the congregation may have drifted well away from the sermon by the time of its conclusion!

Balanced preaching from this perspective is getting the balance between content, duration, and expectation of duration re the character of the service. In particular it means both knowing when to stop and have the discipline to actually stop.

Some say it is good to leave the congregation wishing to hear more from the preacher ...

No comments: