03 January 2012

New Materials for an Article on Preaching

A few weeks ago I began working on an article on the length of sermons, I am advocating for longer sermons (not 45 minute sermons but a little longer, hopefully soon you can read about it). The one problem most associated with lengthy sermon is attentiveness. Is it an imperial expectation to expect tired and inattentive persons to sit still and listen to a 20-25 minute sermon? Or can one really expect to keep people awake that long?

People have long slept in worship. It is nothing new (see Acts 20:7-12) and one so eloquent as Howard Thurman once remarked concerning a woman who fell asleep during his sermons that he was content for folk to do so for nourishment.

Despite the (perceived) lack of attention I think the interchange of a human voice in the presence of a voluntary quieted people is a transformational moment that few experience on a monthly never mind weekly basis.

Two articles in the NY Times this week point to this the need for the kind of reflection we need in this age of technology.

1. Time to Tune Out by Roger Cohen.

2. The Joy of Quiet by Pico Iyer.

I am curious of your reactions to these two articles and your experience of attentiveness on Sunday mornings.

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