This term my preaching classes are learning to preach from 1 Corinthians. It's an extraordinarily vital letter for the church then and now. As I rev up attention on this text I was struck by something I read today from an older commentator (H.L.Goudge) on 1 Cor 14. , which is all about talking in church.
Not even conscious inspiration gives a person the right to monopolize attention. God's message can be spoken briefly. It is vanity that leads speakers to make excessive demands upon the time and the attention of other people, not respect for the divine message that they have to deliver.
That seems rather harsh. It may not be vanity that is the root cause but the expectations of a congregation that evaluate sermons by length. I remember one preacher saying that he had to preach for 45 minutes or his people criticized him. However, I recall another preacher who went to a church used to sermons lasting 25 minutes and shared with a fellow pastor that his ambition was to increase sermon length to a proper time of at least 40 minutes.
We do seem to live at a time when many evangelical preachers do seem to assume that longer is better and I wonder if this challenge about vanity has some validity. What do you think about the ways that we preachers use time ?