I look at it to know when Bible class should end and the other classes will be coming in for worship. I also often look at it AFTER I have finished preaching, to “see how I did” in relation to the time. I prepare sermons in advance, with the purpose of delivering a message or messages, and take only the time I feel necessary to cover the subject.
I don’t preach just to hear the sound of my voice. In a manner, when I step up to the pulpit, I am prepared to be there for the duration, but to many people’s experience, I don’t think I can be truly spoken of as being long winded.
That can be attested to by the fact on any given Sunday our members are first to the restaurants in town.
Many years ago I was visiting my in-laws and I was asked to speak on Sunday at the local congregation. I spoke that morning and finishing my sermon, I consulted my watch.
Afterwards my mother-in-law mentioned that it was a “short sermon.” I said that it was for me actually a longer one being about 27 minutes long. I asked her for her definition of “short sermon” and she said if it is good, 45 minutes is not too long, and if it is bad, 15 minutes is too long.
There is a lot of truth to that.
Preaching in Branson, Mo. for a decade, I was used to having hundreds of visitors at each service from all over the nation, and at times even from out of the U.S.
One older brother expressed the thought that some of my sermons were “long,” since some of the visitors had places to be. When he took turns at preaching, he preached longer than I did.
It seems, at least for him, the difference was in the “who” that was doing the preaching. There was one older brother, that I much appreciated, who would respond to any comments about “long sermons.” He would say, “When I come to services, I come to worship the Lord, no matter how long the services may be. But when the services are over, I am headed home, for my wife cooks a better meal than any of the restaurants.”
In other words, he wasn’t going to get in a hurry, until the last, “Amen!” was said.
Many “church” jokes are about the length of the sermons, many of which I myself like to tell.
One goes something like this. …A preacher could not see the clock in the back of the auditorium, so he installed a small one behind him on the wall. During the sermon he would look back at the clock from time to time to get the feel of the passing of time. One Sunday a deacon asked why he kept looking back behind himself during the sermon, and he told him about the clock had put back there and that he was using it to “keep track of the time.” To that the deacon responded that he needed to take down the clock and put up a calendar.
The clock will be replaced, with another clock, in the back of the auditorium. It helps to make sure we are getting started on time, because it is no one’s desire to waste anyone’s time. Just a caution for anyone that feels a need to turn around to look at it during the sermon. Read Luke 17:32.
I look forward to seeing you in each of the worship services of the Lord.