Church Engagement

Is There Such a Thing as a "Typical" Sermon?

It’s said that a good sermon can’t be too long and a bad sermon can’t be short enough.

The sermon is one of the most important parts of the service. Done well, it can elevate a weekly routine into something memorable and life-changing. Done poorly, it is quickly forgotten.

As you’ll see in the 2012 National Congregations Study, there’s no “best” or “right” way to conduct a sermon. Below are some interesting facts on how they can be influenced by region, congregation size, and other factors.

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REGION

Churches in the Northeast had the shortest sermons with 58% reporting times of 20 minutes or less; those in the South went the longest, with 47.5% reporting times of 31 minutes or longer.

RELIGIOUS TRADITION

Catholics keep sermons the shortest with 97% clocking in at 20 minutes or less while white conservative, evangelical or fundamentalist congregations ran longest with 56% reporting sermons of 31 minutes or longer.

CONGREGATION SIZE

The larger the congregation, the shorter the sermon. Of the surveyed congregations with more than 1,000 members, 68% reported sermons of 20 minutes or less. Meanwhile, of those with 50 or fewer members, 45% reported sermons of 31 minutes or longer.

THEOLOGY

Sermons in liberal churches tend to be shorter than those in their conservative counterparts. Sixty-four percent of liberal churches reported sermons of 20 minutes or less while 49% of conservative churches said sermons lasted 31 minutes or longer.

While there is no proven correlation between the length of a sermon and its quality, most congregants say they prefer shorter to longer. Of course, these are just generalizations. Ultimately, you have the best understanding of what resonates with your congregation.

For additional research findings and how they impact your church, read this piece explaining the relationship between technology and church growth.

 

Image Source: Luke Jones via Flickr

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