I like stand-up comedy and have been watching Last Comic Standing.
When I went to seminary and realized that I needed to take preaching classes, I rented various of stand-up comic’s DVDs and watched how they told stories and studied how they talked, how they entertained, their body language, how they commanded the stage and so forth.
Recently, Comedy Central aired the most recent Chris Rock’s special on HBO Kill the Messenger which originally aired in 2008. And I already seen it when it came out on DVD.
It made me laugh the first time. And it made me laugh the second time.
As I was watching the second time, I started thinking about all the complaints people have about preachers and their sermons, particularly, the complaint that sermons are too long. The “experts” say that our sermons should be 10-15 minutes or we’ll lose our congregations. I’m sure that many church-goers would like short sermons. I’m not saying that that’s bad.
But here’s the thing. Chris Rock’s special was 90 minutes long. He talked the entire time. Here’s the other kicker: people PAID a good tons of money to see the man speak for 90 minutes. And even watching the second time, it didn’t feel long (and that included waiting through commercial breaks). And Chris Rock spent a lot of time talking about current issues (current in 2008) and politics and other things about society that he wanted to comment on. For 90 minutes. And people paid to listen to him.
All I’m saying is that, we as preachers can do that too. Just because “God” is mentioned or that it happens in church should not have people automatically start tuning out. In fact, the message should be more interesting, inspiring and engaging because God is the focus of the message.
I think we can cop out by saying, they (the congregation) don’t want to hear this message for a long time.
A lot of practice, a lot of research, a lot of testing, a lot of TIME is put into writing a joke for these comedians.
I once heard a preacher tell me that he “just can’t find that much time to work on my sermons.”
To which I asked, then why are you preaching?
If we put prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer and more prayer, research, prayer, time, prayer and effort, we will deliver powerful, engaging messages.
If people are tuning out when you’re preaching, whose fault is that? We have to stop blaming our congregation and the shortening spans of American people, and start really asking ourselves, are we putting in the effort, time and prayer?