Should Pastors Speak Longer Than Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount?

A seminary student arguing for shorter, more viral sermons, in the area of 18-minutes long, claimed that pastors are not following Christ’s most famous example in the way they preach, pointing to the Sermon on the Mount. But three pastors remain unconvinced, and denounced the argument as unbiblical and misguided for the church.

Evangelist and seminary student Jeff Tatarchuck argued that pastors should keep their sermons below the 18-minute mark last week. When pastors weighed in, arguing that people’s natural attention spans are longer than that, and that it takes more than 18 minutes to develop disciples, Tatarchuck responded by citing the length of “the greatest sermon of all time,” Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which, he argued, “can be read in 12 minutes, 30 seconds.”

The student quoted Andy Stanley’s book Communicating for a Change, saying that “every sermon should have one main idea.” He argued that “many pastors (including myself) are guilty of trying to fulfill the 40-45 minute sermon expectation by filling their sermons with content not essential to the topic.” He also added that discipleship should be one-on-one, rather than from the pulpit.

To demonstrate the ability to be clear and communicate in a quick way, he cited many memorable speeches that all fit under 18 minutes: Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech (17:29), Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Address (14:45), Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” (12:22), and Ashton Kutcher’s speech at the Teen Choice Awards (4:15).

“If your goal is to be impressive preach for 40-45 minutes,” Tatarchuck suggested, “but if you want to be memorable do it under 18.”

Continue reading.

Sign up to receive weekly WorshipIdeas every Tuesday morning in your email:


Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


Get the latest worship news, ideas and a list

of the top CCLI songs delivered every Tuesday... for FREE!