I have been a United Methodist clergywoman for 29 years. Therefore, I can report my observations:
There is no creature on earth more in love with the sound of their own voice than a preacher.
There are hundreds of sermons in my personal preaching history over the last 30 years. I swear (on an open Bible), I have never given a sermon longer than 20 minutes.
All my life (I am now retired) I have heard three sermons under 35 minutes. In my whole life.
This brings the following questions to my mind:
- Doesn’t the preacher even see the people in the congregation? Can the pastor not catch the clues they send back? Like wow, I am with you! Or the glassy gazes, the distracted glances — Time to get to the point and wind it up, preacher. You lost me.
- Doesn’t the preacher even consider giving a concise enough talk that one concept or word might be remembered for five minutes after church?
- Do preachers have any compassion for these people listening? Often we come to church beat up by life. Can’t the preacher give even a tiny bit of good news to bring home? Some preachers pride themselves in preaching “the gospel” – which means “good news”. The way I see it, the good news gets strangled by the church clichés spoken in unnatural ecclesiastical language. It means nothing to a normal person.
- Now that I am a retired clergywoman, and marginally gainfully employed as a church musician, I am amazed and befuddled when I see people attend church services. Why do they keep coming?