I recently took a preaching class, and recorded the sermon I gave to the class. I did so for my own benefit, so I could listen and learn from it. I used a cheap handheld recording device, so the audio quality is not top-notch. It is 15 minutes. Our goal was 15 minutes, 20 minutes max. The sermon is on Romans 5:1-11.
Take a listen if you want. No obligation. This passage in Romans is one of my favorites, with content I am passionate about (doctrine of justification), and I think I could fairly easily expand this sermon by 10-15 minutes. However, in my current denomination, 15-20 minute sermons are more typical.
How long are sermons in your church, present or past experience? In my past, 40 minute sermons were the norm. A good preacher/teacher can handle this time frame well, and I have been held captive and interested by 40 minute sermons. However, I also see the advantages to briefer sermons. Not every preacher can fill 40 minutes without losing focus and drifting into rabbit trails, and the listeners wonder exactly what the main point of the sermon was supposed to be! Some people have short attention spans and will lose interest even if the preacher keeps focus. TV and internet has unfortunately affected the attention spans of many.
Several practical things I learned…I only said the passage once. Oops. Best to repeat the passage 2 or 3 times to be sure the audience hears it and finds it. I was also shuffling my papers by putting the paper behind the pile when going to the next page. This was distracting to myself, and it was suggested afterwards that it is easier to slide the completed page to the side instead. At several points I could have paused for 10 seconds after a certain point was made. For the future I need to write little reminders to myself in the margins, such as: repeat passage, pause, etc. I also talked too fast overall. Oddly, I found myself very nervous – even though it was a casual, informal learning situation.
Audio link below if you want to listen.
* I used many references as I prepared the sermon – probably commentaries by John Stott, FF Bruce, and Warren Wiersbe were the most helpful. *