Tuesday, May 8, 2012

What does this statistic mean?

I have just been looking at May's edition of Christianity Today. Its briefing page spotlights: Pastors' Fight and Flight and gives a list of predictors of future church conflict.  The two main predictors are predictable: recent church fights and shrinking congregations.

But then they give a list of warning signs.  Look at number 1.
1. Your sermons last between 11 and 20 minutes.  Churches with that homiletic length were about twice as likely as others to have a conflict leading to a leader leaving.  Also, conflict leading to a church meeting is less likely with longer sermons.

As someone who has always been more concerned about quality than quantity I should like to know what lies behind this statistic?  That longer sermons show greater teaching depth so that congregations are more mature?  That longer sermons show preachers have taken greater care and demonstrate more pastoral awareness?  That longer sermons show more seriousness about being community?  Just what do these longer sermons have that is so different that they halve the possibility of conflict?   Surely it's not just length!

I really am puzzled. Any insights are welcome!


Anonymous said...

Dr. Quicke,

According to the website www.uscongregations.org, the majority of "mainline congregations" are led by pastors who preach between 10-20 minutes; nearly 75%. I would be curious to study the research by CT to see if "conflicting congregations" are mainly "mainline" groups or not. If so, then the issue is not preaching, but a deeper issue: What is it about "mainline" churches that seem to create an unhealthy climate that brings conflict to the surface? While my response to that question is somewhat simplistic, I believe that the ongoing fallout that many mainline groups are seeing due to a lack of Biblical authority is where the real answer may lie. In other words, it's not the preaching; it's the culture of the mainline denomination which consists of individuals who prefer this length.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there are other characteristics of pastors who typically give short sermons that come into play beyond the obvious that maybe they just don't like preaching. The statistics might correlate pastors who don't like to preach with other characteristics that result in conflict. For example, maybe they also don't like being pastors gnerally or being shepherds. In other words, doing short sermons may just be one manifestiation of a larger problem of a poorly equipped and highly dissatisfied pastor.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Quicke, I'm not a huge fan of the below website; but was intrigued by the observations by the author in relationship to your post. I look forward to your comments.