“The internet is changing our brains!”
“Humans have shorter attention spans than goldfish!”
“Screen time harms children’s development!”
Do these scary headlines sound familiar? We’re guessing they do. As the internet becomes increasingly more prevalent, many people have raised questions about how online media shapes our thoughts and behaviors. Don’t worry, we’re not about to delve into a deep discussion about the pros and cons of technology. However, the rise of online media creates two important points with implications for preaching:
In the secular world, many organizations have responded to these trends by cutting the length of their videos and text. For example, if you look at the most popular TED talks of all time, the average length is 13 minutes. TED is designed to appeal to those hoping to squeeze a little extra information and inspiration into their day. But is that the model we should be following?
As pastors, we have an obligation to make sure we’re preaching the gospel as clearly and compellingly as we can. At the same time, we also want to be careful not to cheapen it because we’re trying to squeeze 30 minutes’ worth of content into 15 minutes. So, how do we help people to stop, slow down, and spend time in God’s Word?
To start answering these questions, let’s look at the average sermon lengths of some of today’s most well-known pastors.
Do audiences reach a point where the sermon is too long? If you’ve been preaching for any length of time, you’ve probably heard that the answer is “yes!” from the people you pastor- but people’s attention spans may not be as short as you’ve been led to believe. As one of our founders, Justin Trapp, discovered in 2017, many of the most well-known pastors preach for well over 30 or 40 minutes, with some averaging over an hour every Sunday.
Here are updated statistics for 16 of today’s most well-known pastors:
National Community Church
Location: Washington, D.C.
Average sermon length: 36 minutes
Zoe Church Europe
Location: 3 locations across Europe: Sofia, Bulgaria, Warsaw, Poland, and Thessalonika, Greece.
Average sermon length: 44 minutes
The Village Church
Location: Flower Mound, Texas.
Average sermon length: 40 minutes
Hope City Church
Location: Houston, Texas.
Average sermon length: 42 minutes
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina.
Average sermon length: 50 minutes
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Average Sermon Length: 52 minutes
Location: Edmond, Oklahoma
Average sermon length: 37 minutes
The Potter’s House
Location: Dallas, Texas.
Average sermon length: 1 hour, 17 minutes
Fresh Life Church
Location: Kalispell, Montana.
Average Sermon Length: 46 minutes
Location: Menlo Park, California.
Average Sermon Length: 33 minutes
New Season Church
Location: Sacramento, California.
Average Sermon Length: 48 minutes
Location: Seattle, Washington
Average Sermon Length: 45 minutes
North Point Community Church
Location: Atlanta, Georgia.
Average sermon length: 33 minutes
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Average sermon length: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Location: Lake Forest, California.
Average sermon length: 52 minutes
Rich and DawnChere Wilkerson
Location: Miami, Florida
Average sermon length: 45 minutes
What about these pastors makes them able to command their audiences for that length of time? Well, let’s start by settling one point: you don’t have to be a celebrity pastor to preach a greater-than-30-minute sermon that people actually want to hear. When it comes to their preaching, these men and women understand some crucial principles:
So, how do you accomplish this? It starts with a solid plan and the right tools to help you carry it out:
Ultimately, the answer to this question will depend on a lot of factors, including your preferred preaching style, your typical order of service, and the expectations and culture within your congregation. If you want help figuring what your average sermon length should be, here are some resources to help you do that:
In conclusion, there’s no “ideal sermon length” across all denominations and churches. However, based on the average sermon length of the 16 well-known pastors we researched for this article, you have nothing to worry about if your message runs longer than the typical TED talk. And, if you typically preach for over 30 minutes, you now know that you’re in really good company.
How long do you try to preach your sermons? Are these findings a surprise? Let us know in the comments!