“If You Haven’t Preached an Hour, You Haven’t Preached”

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On a previous trip to Trinidad, I was asked to preach for their morning worship service. I remember asking Pastor Roddie Taylor how long I should preach. I told him that in the States, most wanted the sermon finished in 20-30 minutes, but I usually went some over. I’ll never forget what he said:

“Matthew Perry, in Trinidad, if you haven’t preached an hour, you haven’t preached.”

OK, then! Interesting regarding how various cultures view this. I remember hearing Mark Dever speak of a time he went to preach in South Africa in the late 1990s or early 2000s. He preached for an hour, and respecting the time, concluded. One of the leaders of the church stood up and said, “We sense you have more to say on the matter–could you please continue.” And he did for another hour. Dever observed that South Africa had only had television since 1980 and noted that their attention span was considerably longer than he was used to as a pastor in Washington, D.C.

People vary on this topic. But my thought is this: we do not have many opportunities to get before the Word during the week. If your wheelhouse is 20 minute sermons, will spending another 15-20 minutes under the Word really put a dent into our seemingly busy lives? Many churches in the States are flourishing with pastors who faithfully deliver the Word for an hour. They have time to set the table, put out a feast, then help digest.

Isn’t it worth the time? What think ye?


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