Last week I wrote about the issue of concentration and sermon length. Haddon Robinson taught me that when it comes to sermon length the real issue is not minutes, but perception.
A good sermon is going somewhere and the listeners know it. Apparently, there was a study of some 2500 people with the question, “How long should a sermon be?” Preachers would answer in minutes, but listeners would answer along the lines of, “As long as it takes to get to the end.” By this measure, a sermon that is too long is one that takes too long to get to the end.
Haddon Robinson may not be a perfect preacher, but he is a good model of this principle – when he’s through with the message he finishes. While I often fall into the trap of several false landings, he seems to nail that ending, and often does it a couple of sentences before the listeners expect it.
A good sermon does not have several stopping places, it has an end. A good preacher knows the end and goes straight there.