In 2015, Microsoft studied the human attention span and found it shrinking below the levels of goldfish.
Microsoft assembled a team of researchers, neurologists and psychologists to extract the data with a methodology that was tightly focused on the trends. Here’s what they learned: The average human attention span in the year 2000 was 12 seconds. By 2013, it had shrunk to 8 seconds, one second less than the 9-second attention span of a goldfish.
The study falls short in many ways, but the most glaring problem is that people learn in much different ways than a goldfish, and a human’s ability to pay attention to and apply information depends greatly on their own personal learning style.
So how does this answer the question, “How long should your sermons be?”
The short answer is, “It depends.”
Hershael York writes at the Gospel Coalition,
“How long should a sermon be? As a preaching professor and a pastor, I’ve asked and been asked that question a hundred times. Today, after 35 years in ministry, I have a definitive answer: You can preach as long as you hold their attention.”
I also like what John Stott said, “It doesn’t matter how long you preach, it should feel like twenty minutes.”
In fact, we studied the average length of the best, most watched preachers in America and found some pretty surprising results. Their sermons averaged more than 42 minutes each.
The one thing about each of these preachers, though, is their messages are well-organized, incredibly diverse in the way they present the message, and they appeal to all the many different ways people learn.
They totally blow the goldfish theory completely out of the water.
The length of the sermon (much like the attention span of a goldfish) isn’t what matters. What matters is how well you are organizing your messages, how interestingly you are making the key points, and how direct you are at convincing your audience of the truth.
So preach on. God has given you something to say, and how long that message takes to preach doesn’t matter. We have been secretly working on a project to help pastors with the sermon process for almost a year now. Our new platform will help you build a more impactful message, regardless of its length. We’ve just finished beta, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
If you want to be among the first to know when it’s ready, click here and add your name to the pre-launch list.
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