Oh I get it. Some sermons drag on and on, rambling, incoherent, with no end in sight. They seem long whether they are 10 minutes or 30. But the logical solution is not shorter sermons. There are boring short sermons. Regardless of their length, the solution is to preach better sermons, period. Better messages in content; we preach Christ crucified. Better messages in form, as well.
Yet there are some rice cake Lutherans that actually believe the preacher should aspire to short sermons. Don’t trust those devils. Whether it is parishioners who want to command God’s Word to do what they want, or parishioners who treat church attendance like giving blood, or members who think it’s the pastors job to keep them entertained.
Now, we can forgive the poor Philistines of our congregations who are obsessed with their bodily functions more than thinking. But there are pastors who despise long sermons, too. They proudly advertise their brevity. They treat their members like morons who can’t pay attention for more than 10 minutes. They spend all week crafting this perfect little package, choosing just the right words, just the right illustrations, and Twitter ready turns of phrases. In the end, most are bourgeois poets thinking they are cutting Michelangelo’s David in front 30 people who can’t hear them anyway.
And they read it. Ugh. Or worse, memorize it. Goodness, just read it. It sounds like you are acting in a small town community theater playing the part of the pastor and not being a pastor. Looking up when they say something clever. Lifting their eyes after a careful alliteration. A little general Law with out much explanation. A little general Gospel with little specifics. A sermon that hits all the metrics. It could fit well into some collection of 21st century sermons of the upper Midwest, gathering dust in the back room of a seminary’s library. Thank God it wasn’t too long.
Good Lord, pastors get paid too much if they think they should spend all week making a tiny sermon. The man holding his hymnal with grease-stained hands needs time in God’s Word! You have their attention! They waited all week. Ten minutes?! It’s a war out there! Preach! It’s all they got. They miss their wife whom they buried last week. They hate their feelings that fill them with shame. They are treating their neighbor like horse shit and could used a kick in the arse. This is no time for clean little quips and generalities.
Or do you despise your people, servant of God? Or do you not believe in the power of God’s Word? Or your commission to preach it? Or do you not believe, as Peter did, that Jesus’ words give life?! Turn the hose all the way on and like Moses and the covenant, douse your thirsty hearers! The Reformation rightfully placed the preaching of God’s Word as the pinnacle of the worship service exactly as Jesus intended it. Don’t let your sermons mimic those ridiculous minuscule baptismal fonts shoved in the corner of so-called Lutheran churches.
Save your middle class poetry for your notebook. Stop spending all week looking for just the right phrase (most of you are incapable of it) and just say it! Say the words. Explain the text. Look them dead in the eye, call them to repentance, and forgive them. Sunday isn’t an art gallery, it’s open heart surgery. Your patient doesn’t care how quickly you work. She wants to jump from the table alive!
Sometimes it should take a while. Sometimes a short message is absolutely fitting. They might applaud you for your ability to find a word to rhymes with justification. But they will sincerely thank you for pointing out their sin and wiping it away with Christ!