If you’re thinking about visiting a new church, its denomination might give you a hint at exactly how long you can plan to be there.
A new study from the Pew Research Center has revealed the median sermon length — calculated from a compilation of church websites — to be 37 minutes long.
Between church traditions, though, the sermon length varies quite a bit. Catholic sermons are the shortest at 14 minutes, followed by mainline Protestant messages at 25 minutes. Next up is evangelical Protestant sermons at 39 minutes, compared to historically black Protestant messages at 54 minutes, which is the longest.
The survey included data collected from 50,000 sermons preached at 6,431 churches delivered between April 7 to June 1 of this year, including Easter.
There are also linguistic distinctions between church traditions.
For example, among evangelical churches, the three phrases used most disproportionately are variants of “eternal hell,” “lose … salvation,” and “trespass … sin.” Furthermore, across all major Christian traditions, most preachers are much more likely to teach from the New Testament (90 percent) than the Old Testament (61 percent).
That pattern is particularly prevalent among Catholic and mainline Protestant churches. Between the two, respectively, they are 40 percent and 39 percent more likely to mention a book of the New Testament than one from the Old Testament.
“This may reflect the fact that most ministers in the mainline Protestant and Catholic traditions preach on the day’s Gospel reading, which is always from the New Testament,” the study explained.
How does your church stack up against these findings?