This past week I read two articles that talked about how long a sermon should be. One article simply used the average sermon length from several well known pastors. The other article used data to give an idea of how long they believed a sermon should be. In that article, the author, Justin Trapp, quotes Hershael York as saying: “You can preach as long as you hold their attention.” (How Long Should Your Sermon Be?)
After reading those posts, I thought about the time it took to prepare the sermon. The average sermon length from the poll done in the above article is forty-two minutes. So how much preparation does it take to preach for that long, or really any length of time?
I know how much time I spend in preparation, but I wanted to get an idea from others. I still remember my hermeneutics class at The College at Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC with Dr. Danny Akin. I was amazed that preaching a sermon would take 15-20 hours of preparation. Even passages that have been studied before and preached on before will require 12-15 hours of preparation.
This was reiterated to me in my questions to other pastors. So think about this for a moment. Most pastors (I say “most” because I realize that not every pastor does this) spend up to 20 hours in preparation for Sunday mornings sermon, on top of Sunday night’s message, Wednesday night’s message, visits, executive duties, and anything else that comes up during the week. (So much for the one hour a week theory, right?)
Personally, I have 16 scheduled office hours for sermon prep. This doesn’t count the time spent in preparation at home. Preparing for a sermon is not something to be taken lightly. There is so much research of the text, other people’s thoughts in commentaries, prayer, and so much more. It’s only by the grace and strength of God that this is possible!
After all is said and done, pastors, take heed of the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 2:2, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Thank you for taking the time to read. What are your thoughts one sermon preparation? Let me know in the comments!