I am consistently annoyed with how long I preach!
I often have the following quote in the back of my mind:
“Speak short. Your discourses are generally double the length they should be.” Ellen, G. White, Testimonies to Ministers & GW, p. 311
I don’t always preach too long, but often I feel that I do. I’m happy to be in the 32-35 minute range…I’m mildly perturbed if I get over 40 minutes, and I’m downright irritated with myself when I get near 50 minutes or above.
I know, I know, there are times for long talks:
“He should not always give so long a discourse that there will be no opportunity for those present to confess Christ. The sermon should frequently be short…” Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, p. 171
This would indicate that occasionally it is acceptable to give a long discourse, but for the most part, “The sermon should frequently be short.”
Now when I talk about “short” we are not speaking of laziness…some pastors are short because they’re lazy. I’m not talking about shallowness, because some pastors are short in their preaching because they’ve chosen to be shallow…or some have just chosen not to study and are thus shallow because of their brain emptiness. No I am talking about the type of “short” preaching Jesus did:
“In Christ’s teaching there is no long, far-fetched, complicated reasoning. He comes right to the point. In His ministry He read every heart as an open book, and from the inexhaustible store of His treasure house He drew things both new and old to illustrate and enforce His teachings. He touched the heart, and awakened the sympathies.” Ellen G. White—Manuscript 24, 1891
Why am I thinking about this?
Because last week I preached
45 minutes & 11 seconds
& the week before that I preached
50 minutes and 21 seconds
& before that
42 minutes & 52 seconds…so you can see I’ve been consistently annoyed with my preaching recently.
Yes people have been blessed…but I could do better…
I want to be better…
Oh yeah why am I thinking about this?
Because I enjoy TED talks.
What are TED talks? You can listen to them (after you finish reading this blog of course) here.
Basically they are some of the greatest minds around sharing ideas about our world and all kinds of different things in our world. One of the distinctive features of a TED talk, they are messages delivered in 18 minutes or less (a few people go a little over but that is the general rule). If you listen to some of these talks you’ll be amazed by their quality and beauty and how they capture your attention (just watch this one by Benjamin Zander…after you finish reading my blog of course:)). And they do all this in a very short amount of time.
So I am thinking about this…
Because I want to capture peoples minds with the Word of God the way TED talks capture my mind.
As I thought about this I began to think about the sermon I have often heard referred to as, “The greatest sermon ever preached.”
I was once at a Youth Specialties Conference and I heard Shane Claiborne recite just this sermon…no other words…just this sermon…
and I was raptured by its beauty,
and also by it’s brevity.
It is Jesus’ TED talk. It is found in the Bible in the first book of the New Testament, known as Matthew; Matthew chapters 5-7.
The greatest sermon ever preached…
The Sermon on the Mount
So tonight I paused and I read it aloud…
I read it like I was doing a dramatic reading…
I read it as I remember Shane Claiborne reading it…
Simply & slowly…
I read it because I wanted to see how long it was.
Let me pause and say, if you have not ever read scripture out loud to yourself…not just at church or in front of another;
But to yourself…
Start with The Sermon on the Mount…
It moved my heart to hear these words.
Not because of my voice…but as I slowly read, as I read as if I were preaching…
the words…Jesus’ words, moved my heart.
Read scripture out loud to yourself…you’ll be blessed.
But I read out loud, slowly, like I was preaching to see the time…
To confirm my self rebuke.
It was confirmed!
Jesus’ TED talk was 00:13:11:98
Ninety-Eight one hundredths of a second
The greatest sermon ever preached was 1/4 of MOST of my sermons.
So I want to be like Jesus.
This includes in my preaching.
The TED talks motivate me to get shorter…
Jesus’ TED talk convicts me to get shorter.