Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve waited and waited to get it over? You sit and sit and look at the clock and at the face of the one who is shouting without a cause! Your face looks as if you are saying “Anna have mercy! Leave us!” Harsh as it sounds, the fact it is! TPM sermons are way too lengthy! It seems TPM pastors have no ropes attached to their tongues to bridle it on time! Pew members feel irritated on Sundays listening to everlasting sermons. Like a moth, they will eat half of your Sunday! You will feel the sting but you will not be able to speak anything (social pressure not to speak against messenger’s message)! You might wonder whether it is God who keeps sending these long sermons one and a half hour to two hours of torture from Zion every Sunday or what? It’s high time that we examine this facet of TPM worship too!
Length of sermons in the Bible
One of the longest recorded sermons of New Testament is found in Gospel according to Matthew. It spreads through Matthew 5,6,& 7. [You can calculate how much time it takes to speak these verses, by listening to an online audio bible. As per my calculations, it takes a minute to speak 5-6 verses (check it yourself here)]. Coming back to the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5,6,7), it seems to be the longest recorded sermon that we have in New Testament. It has some 111 verses. According to 5 verses per minute calculation, it should not have taken more than 22 minutes for Jesus to finish his sermon on the mount. Except this, all of the sermons of Jesus were not even five minutes long. He mostly spoke through parables and none of them would take more than five minutes. We could give some extra time for the propagation and pauses of the sermon knowing that there were no microphones those days. Yet people wondered where he got such wisdom (Mark 6:2).
Let us look at first sermon of Peter, the apostle. It is about 5 minutes long [24 verses (Acts 2:14-38)] and it saved about 3000 people. Again the next sermon Peter preached was not even 5 minutes and it saved about 5000 people (Acts 4:4). Stephen the first martyr preached 53 verses sermon (approx. 11 minutes) and he summed up the entire history of Israel in those 11 minutes. Peter again at the house of Cornelius preached 2-3 minute sermon [10 verses] and Holy Ghost fell within the short time on them that were hearing his discourse. Thus we can see that sermons in New Testament were quite short too often and yet each of them was a gem in itself!
Does this mean that preaching a longer sermon is unhealthy? We haven’t said so! Apostle Paul preached one of his message for hours probably (Acts 20:7), and Nehemiah preached from morning till midday as he read entire books of the law. Notice that these were the rare occasion and it wasn’t their custom to tire people with long discourses. There were reasons for Nehemiah and Paul to go so long! Paul extended his speech because he was to depart the next day, and probably he would not see them again. It was the need of the hour to deposit all that he had learned from God. In case of Nehemiah, people had forgotten law (being under slavery) and they needed a reminder of what was written in law books given by Moses. Therefore a lengthy sermon is not bad, provided it ought not to be customary to pain people with your speech! We conclude from scriptures concerning the length of sermons:-
- There was no minimum fixed 1-hour customary preaching rule followed by any bible preacher.
- Most of the sermons are quite short (not even 20 minutes) & yet very powerful. We can say they were short and weighty!
In TPM there is this implicit rule of the minimum one-hour preaching of which we have no scriptural base. Very few TPM preachers stick to one hour, but most of them do not know where to stop. In conventions, people are tortured with at least 2 hours of noisy treatment. And what reason do they give? Some say the food is not yet prepared and therefore we are extending half an hour! Some Pastors will reply, “You can go and watch movie or cricket for hours and can’t wait in God’s presence for at least few hours?”
They don’t understand that people feel fed up with their long preaching! Problem is not with people but with preachers! Preachers serve stinking meals and expect people to shout tasty! Serve them Biryani and they will long for more! I have had conversations with quite a few worker sisters and they keep saying “This pastor /brother is trouble – he speaks too long.. we are fed up!” “We have told him so often that poor ladies in church attend meeting secretly (hiding from husbands), and they need timely departure, but it doesn’t go in his head. It’s cold and night, there is no mode of conveyances ….. How will these poor women return?”
One worker brother was complaining about the Centre Pastor, “Aray yaar! We have workers meeting now and this old man will make us sit for hours lecturing us!” One believer once called me from one local faith home and asked me the Center pastor’s number so that he could complain about local in-charge’s regular two-hour torture. “Nonsense!” he said, “We are fed up!” Then there is another twist to this unbridled torment! Once I suggested one brother in-charge to wrap his sermon in 20 minutes! His response was “Hello! Thambi, you don’t know how demonic these sisters are! If I wrap the sermon in 20 minutes, she will straightaway make a call to the center Pastor and tell him that I didn’t preach for 1 hour today!
So you see the nonsense customs of these self-exalting organization makes people suffer for the foolishness of pastors (Eccl 5:3)!
Words of wise men
Before I conclude, I would like to leave for your meditation, few snippets of wise men on the theme of the length of the sermon.
Solomon – “… and a fool’s voice is known by multitude of words (Eccl 5:3).”
Spurgeon – “Brethren, weigh your sermons. Do not retail them by the yard, but deal them out by the pound. Set no store by the quantity of words which you utter, but strive to be esteemed for the quality of your matter. It is foolish to be lavish in words and niggardly in truth. “
Dear TPM Pastors/ preachers, you are so very boring. Sorry to say that but it is fact! Come down from cloud number nine! Realize that it’s not the yard but weight that matters. Stop torturing people! There is lot and lot of biryani available in Christian literature. People have labored extensively for Christ. Take time, read, muse, listen and then serve Biryani instead of the stinking monotonous overdose of TPM’s poisonous meat.