Here is a link to the article under question, “Still Saving Eutychus,” by Marty Sweeney.
Says the author: “In my circles it is assumed, to put it simplistically, that to be more faithful to God you must preach longer.” He goes on to analyze that assumption. And despite my sermons of 40ish minutes, I more or less sympathize with the article. I have heard 90 minute sermons that flew past; I have heard 15 minute ones that never seemed to end. I don’t mind a longer sermon, but I do object when a preacher lacks self-discipline and tries to pass off his verbal wanderings as depth. Or who preach “in the spirit of the Puritans,” who, you know, gave really long messages. So, you know, if one gives long sermons, one is up there with the Puritans. Or who preach on and on because, if they don’t, then somehow we have caved into that handy catchall enemy, postmodernism. Or because we don’t want the bigger boys to make fun of us: “Sermonettes preached by preacherettes!”
When Eutychus (whose Greek name means “Lucky”) took a header from the window, it was, the author of Acts implies, during an extraordinarily long preaching session with Paul (Acts 20:7-12).
Now: If Paul taught (let’s say) 12 hours, I cannot imagine him filling that slot with stories of guys he knew growing up in Tarsus, or some cute thing that Timothy had said the other day, or a long list of “You Might be an Ephesian if…”; or 15 principles of how to become a better executive; or why football stars have excellent insight into gospel truths; or page after page that he got from some bestseller; or some clever but faulty analysis of some Hebrew verb. Nor even a sermon that could go somewhere, but then goes off the grid (“I HAVE A DREAM TODAY! Well, not really a dream, it’s more of a…what’s that thing, what do you call it, an ideal. But a realistic one that may or may not be able to be pulled off! Anyway, I have one of those,” etc, etc). Or a conclusion he makes 5 or 6 attempts at, before finally “sticking the landing.”
We should be very conscious that every minute we speak, we are asking the People of God to invest that amount of time with us.
If I am preaching to a group of – well, let’s say, 60 people, to make the math easier – then for every minute I speak, I am consuming a man-hour of the church’s energy. For every hour I speak, I am consuming 60 man-hours.
At the very least, God’s people should get a lived-out and prayed-through encounter with the Lord, a right-out-of-the-gate beginning, a solid biblical meal, realistic and specific application, and a confident conclusion.
“Preaching: whether you go long or go short, GO DEEP!!,” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica
Tagged: Bible, Christian, evangelical