Thursday, August 18, 2011

The View from the Back Pew

For over 16 years now Carolyn and I have been observing Sunday morning worship from a benchwarmer’s point of view. From that perspective, I’ve made a few observations and formed a few conclusions that I thought I’d pass along for what they’re worth. As Paul would say, “I give an opinion.” Nothing more.

(1) The era of the forty-five minute sermon may be over

Attention spans have been abridged these days to the point that most folks find it difficult to attend for more than 25–30 minutes, even if the presenter speaks with the tongues of angels. Our culture does not lend its ear to lectures without breaks or opportunities to give feedback. Television is mostly to blame, I suppose, with its thirty-minute segments broken into shorter units by commercials.

Brevity does not mean that sermons necessarily lack content and depth. Depth is a function of insight, orthodoxy, wisdom and clarity, which, in turn, is the product of prayerful meditation on and obedience to the text.

I‘m told that American statesman Edward Everett preceded Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg and delivered an oration that contained 13,609 words and lasted for two hours, but it’s Lincoln’s 268 words that are carved in stone at the end of the National Mall.

There’s a lesson there, or so it seems to me.

(To be continued)


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