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.
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.
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.
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.
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.