HOMILETICS AND SERMON LENGTH, Dan Mayfield

HOMILETICS? I think Jesus and Paul would balk at the rules placed on young preachers in a typical homiletics class. For example, who decided the proper number of minutes a sermon should be? I heard of an old time preacher who often said, “If you can’t preach a great sermon in 25-30 minutes you didn’t prepare hard enough.” Along the same line, someone said, “if a preacher hasn’t struck oil in 20 minutes, stop boring.” Boring? Who decided great sermons start with a time length?  How did the clock become such a constraint? I do not doubt that a great sermon CAN be done in 25 minutes, but there are many great sermons that are done in 50 minutes. Local congregations, Leaders, and
preachers can decide, but the tradition that is bound to the point of ridicule and law that a sermon needs to be under 30 minutes is a tradition deserving of being challenged. It not only limits the time, but the amount of Bible that is taught. I can’t find any place where the Bible constrains a preacher to watch the shadow on the floor or sundial.  Who says that a selection of verses can only be taught or preached in 30 minutes? This slavery to the clock is unnatural and does not consider that the text determines what needs to be said. Some human traditions to be rejected. Preach as long as it takes to preach what is in the text. Stay focused. Try not to put the people to sleep. But forget these man-made teaching rules.



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