Sermon Superstars

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The external beauty of Saint Maio’s Chapel in Colorado reminds me of the beautiful hearts inside many churches around the world – pointing us to God’s love, grace, and mercy week after week, encouraging us to give that love, grace, and mercy to each other.

Sitting in church this past Sunday, I contemplated the enormous task that our pastor took on every time he stood on that stage.

In English, we use approximately 100-120 words per minute of speech. Being conservative, allowing for dramatic pauses, scripture reading, and hopefully some laughter every now and then, let’s assume our pastors write 100 words for every minute of a sermon.

So, 30 minutes – around 3,000 words. 45 minutes – around 4,500 words.

Every single week, we expect them to come up with all these words – and not just any words. They must be true, engaging, interesting, educating, grace-giving, and new. And they should all fit together in some sort of format that is likely to help people remember them – at least remember something.


“To be effective the preacher’s message must be alive; it must alarm, arouse, challenge; it must be God’s present voice to a particular people.” – A.W. Tozer (piece of cake, right?)


That always seemed hard, but since I’ve been writing my little 600-1000 word blog posts, it seems close to impossible to succeed at this task week in and week out.

Let’s look at it another way – the average 240 page non-fiction book has approximately 70,000 words. So, if you teach for 45 minutes each week, you essentially write a book every 15 sermons.  If you teach 80% of Sundays, you write and then speak enough words to fill almost 3 complete books every single year. 

That is daunting. It gives me a vast appreciation for the tireless efforts of the men and women who serve us in this way.

So thank you Steve Bradley, Scot Pollok, Jane Pope, Peggy Lesch, Dian Sustek, Dave Anderson, Len Woods, Dicky Love, and many others who have taught me faithfully through the years. I am grateful.

Thank your pastor today, and remember these numbers the next time you start to critique their sermon.

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