Religion Magazine

Never Mind the Length

By Richardl @richardlittleda

Check the depth

Some time ago I read a scathing newspaper review of an after dinner speech. The reviewer said that the speaker went on at length ‘like an ugly girl who thought that if she stood around long enough she would become beautiful’. Whilst I might question the precise wording I applaud the sentiment, and was reminded of it when reading Skye Jethan’s blog post this morning. In the post Jethan argues that length should not equate to depth or value in biblical preaching.

I could not agree more. Many sermons which purport to be biblical are anything but. Some are:

  • Rocket sermons – which blast off from a single text into the ionosphere of the preacher’s imagination and never look back.
  • Carpet-bomb sermons – which drone to and fro over a subject dropping texts all over it without engaging those who live in it.
  • Butterfly sermons – which flit from text to text without ever lingering long enough to get caught up in them.
  • Patchwork sermons – where biblical text and preacher’s opinion are tightly stitched together in such a way as to give equal weight to both.

Truly Biblical preaching is the result of an explosive impact between the mind and heart of the preacher and the eternal truth of the text which takes place within the smelting furnace of current experience. The sermon which results may be as short as a parable, or as long as a conversation -but its effects may linger for generations.

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