Wednesday, September 18, 2013

71 minutes

As I write this I'm listening to a recording of Sunday worship at Crossroads.  Parts of the recording catch the spirit of our lively church.  Other parts of the recording are bit odd.  Some of that is because the recording catches only (mostly) the up front voices and there were many people who shared that we can't hear...

The longest part was my message.  I listened to it now and I see that it was about a half hour long.  For us at Crossroads that's too long.  I just forgot to pay attention to the clock this week until the message was over.

By the end of the message, and after a prayer, we we already over an hour into worship.  I proceeded with the planned communion service but I felt really awkward.  There were long silences and my own personal prayer where I asked God to help me know how to better shepherd this church.  The total time of the worship service as a little over 1 hour and 10 minutes.

One of the things I am sure God is doing among us at Crossroads is inspiring many, many voices.  Like was true in the early church, the Holy Spirit is inspiring many to speak.  Part of the reason my message was long this week is because I wanted to involve others in it.  We stopped and looked up Bible passages.  There were opportunities for others to speak during the message.

That is good, and the topic we covered on Sunday was important, but it was still too long.  Too long for us.  I probably could have stopped after a 10-12 minute message and people would have benefited.  Then we could have gone into communion with time to spare.  I'm sure many* of you would agree, though I had no idea at the time that I was getting long.  No idea at all.

Why am I sharing this?  I'm asking for your prayers and your advice.  Please pray, ask God, and share with me what you hear the Lord saying to these questions:

What should we do, as a church family, when we see that the message is getting on past 15-20 minutes?
  1. Should we cut the rest of the service, even if communion is scheduled?  
  2. Or should we proceed as we did on Sunday?  
  3. Or do you have another solution?
I'm sure there are many who would say "just don't preach so long."  I will do my best in that (especially since this last Sunday I became so aware of it once again).  However, because I believe God is calling me to follow the Holy Spirit along in my preaching, there will be times when the message does get past the length that is helpful for many of our people, especially families with children.  So, I do need to hear from you.  What should we do when the message does get long?

Let me know.


* Some appreciate half hour sermons.  Some have told me we shouldn't worry about time and I mostly agree!  But, in our setting, lengthy messages aren't a good practice, at least not on a regular basis.  We all need to remember those who appreciate brevity.  We need to remember the children and our youth.  I need to do that and I need your help.

** There's a connection between this blogpost and the message and scripture shared this Sunday.  We read the story of Blind Bartimaeus who received encouragement from Jesus after crying out in a public way.  I expect that the Lord will answer my prayer too.

Added Thur., Sep. 26, 5:30 p.m. - here are the comments to this post I received on facebook as of now--your comments would be helpful as we discern the way forward.  As always you can comment by clicking "comment" below, by emailing me at or by texting or calling 763-291-2399.  Thank you.  (I think you can access the original post on facebook by clicking here.)

Here's my response to the facebook comments above: I love the Spirit-filled liberty that the Lord is giving me these days, the willingness of people at Crossroads to allow that freedom to continue, and I love the support you all have given. I especially appreciate ____'s comment as she had children with her. It's interesting to me that on the next Sunday (Sep. 22) we were blessed with a VERY long service, but this time it didn't have to do with me directly. Pst Godly Agala was with us and I thought he was going to pray for us at what I thought was the end of the worship service (at about 11:10 a.m.) but he ended up preaching an African Holy Spirit style message leading up to a ministry time. Instead of 71 minutes the service on Sep. 22 was 108 minutes long (based on the recording at - click below). This has caused no little consternation for some folks who attend our church, not only because of the close to two hour long service, but because it brought to the surface some more-or-less hidden frustrations about the "free" style of worship we've been getting used to here at Crossroads. The challenge for me is that my personality lends itself well to freedom and not so well to structure, so the help I need is to discern how much is "me" and how much is the Spirit of God that is moving us. We do not yet have a specifically chosen "spiritual leadership team" that helps me with that discernment, though Toni and others do their best. Anyway, I'd just ask your prayers as we continue this journey. Pray for lots of patience, loads of listening, practical forgiveness, and, when needed, the willingness to speak. Thank you again for the comments you've made already and others that you may make below.

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