This has been the question since…well…since sermons have been delivered.
Here’s the thing – there is no one right answer.
That’s right – no right answer for this hot debate. Just like there is no right answer to the question of what makes for a great sermon. That’s because there are no universal standards whatsoever for what makes a sermon great, or even good for that matter.
Having said that, please understand there are some standards within denominations. In my denomination, the mark of a good sermon is one that preaches Law and Gospel. But go to another denomination and they have a different standard. There are no universal standards within Christianity when it comes to sermons.
Getting back to the initial question, the Guardian ran an article in 2010 which claimed that the Vatican told its priests that they should keep it to eight minutes and “maintain eye contact.”
Maybe that’s right. Then again, it’s more likely that this is just some kind silver bullet solution that will fail miserably.
That’s because large organizations have a different focus – on technique.
What’s the right length for a sermon? The answer is that it depends on a few things. It depends on what is being preached. It depends on the people who hear the sermon. It depends on how the Spirit is moving through the sermon. It depends on so much more than this.
If shortening the sermon were the right answer always, then maybe we should just move all sermons to a bunch of tweets and be done with it. But I’m willing to bet that as ridiculous as that sounds, no one will think that having some kind of universal standard of eight minutes will sound just as ridiculous.
What’s the right length for the sermon? The amount of time it takes the preacher to deliver to the people what God wants them to hear.