Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said, “We all have our own preferences about sermon and service length. The important thing is that the gospel is communicated clearly in a way that hearers can respond. Pastors and church leaders need to be responsive to the people they serve and faithful to God’s leading.”
Sermon length responses ranged from 20 to 45 minutes, and church service length ranged from 30 to 150 minutes.
Several evangelical leaders, like Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College, noted that the sermon length depends on the preacher. “For some, 10 minutes would be plenty. But for a few, not even an hour is too long,” he said.
John Stumbo, president of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, said, “Pastors need to know their capacity (how skilled they are at holding attention), culture, and congregation well enough to decide appropriate lengths. One rule of thumb for preachers: Be done five minutes before your congregation is.”
Some leaders shared concerns that congregations have short attention spans, while also noting that church leaders sometimes lower the bar for what they expect from their congregations.
Kevin McBride, pastor of Raymond Baptist Church, said that it’s difficult to determine ideal lengths because it is culturally relative. “For both sermon and church service length, the answer should be: ‘Long enough to draw people in the presence of God, remind them of who he is, who we are, and what he may want to say to them.’”
Gabriel Salguero, president of National Latino Evangelical Coalition, said, “This varies from tradition to tradition and culture to culture. For example, an evangelical Anglican church differs from a Hispanic or African American Pentecostal church.”
“Church services are a time of celebration of Jesus,” said Emmanuel Agormeda, apostle at Royalhouse Chapel International. “We must have enough time to fellowship as a community of faith. We must not be in a rush to leave his church. However we must not unduly prolong services.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.