Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The fixation with the length of service

I have been pondering a question for the last 24 hours. Where did the fixation with keeping the service to an hour come from? Why do we feel this crushing need to keep it to an hour? Wouldn’t the worship experience be richer and fuller if we said forget this time cap, lets enjoy worship? Have the worship last 3, 4, 5 songs to begin, have the parts of the service that people are attached to, and have a solid length service. Why are we so attached to “gotta keep it to an hour”?

From time to time, Pastors get some intense pressure to keep things short, short, short. I was recently told that three songs is too many. Really? We’re just getting to worshiping at three. To add to that, it seems that praise songs are an imposition, because they are too long. This attitude that praise songs are to long goes hand in glove with the idea that the service must be short, short, short…. And with that, pastors hear, don’t preach to long (we might learn something, or be convicted, or worse, realize that being religious doesn’t equal salvation…), don’t sing to long (the holy spirit might show up), keep it short and safe, a zone that God cannot intrude, so that in the end we can say, “OK, we’ve punched our time clock for God”.

It’s something that’s been bugging me lately. Where did we get this attitude that church should be one hour. Our puritan fore-bearers used to sit in church for hours. Now, we think the sermon should be twenty minutes….max, and the worship should be short, no more than two songs to start, a middle after, and one at the end… and the Holy spirit should leave us alone… Most angering of all is the attitude that it’s MY CHURCH. It’s not your church, it’s not my church, It’s God’s church. we are the body of Christ, He is the head. It’s not our church…

God, send your spirit…. Christ is the head, it’s not our church, it’s not about us. Send your spirit through your church, and give us a love of you.



  2. A good response to Kinnon is found at

    I think the key quote in it all is this "the preaching of powerful, faithful, compelling biblical expositions is absolutely vital and necessary to the life and growth of our congregations. Weak and inadequate preaching weakens our churches…Conversely, clear, strong, powerful public preaching is the bedrock and foundation upon which all other ministry in the congregation is built…"
    If we want a strong church, we need good preaching.

    With that small through, Kinnon's article is great, and his point that "sermons don't make disciples - though living life together just might" is a good rebuttal to those that see sermons as the be all and end all (as i sometimes do). He is absolutely correct that the church has to recovoer grounding new believers...preaching isn't the be all and end all... it is important, and good preaching is one important tool in grounding the church in the faith, but as Parret and Packer said..."unless the church recovers the art of catechesis, the "ministry of grounding new believers in the essentials of the faith", our efforts to make disciples will be less than fruitful".

    Great Link. Thanks.

    Now...with all that said, the time fixation... which was where the article started... it's gotta go... and as someone commented to me in an email....Maybe its content of service not length we should be focusing on (i think that this person is right).