In his most recent Ministry Toolbox newsletter, Rick Warren observes, “most people would agree that attention spans are shrinking. That means the people you and I preach to each week are less likely to sit and focus as long as congregations could a generation ago. We can complain about it and we can let it frustrate us. But we can’t change it.

“Yet, that doesn’t mean we have to preach shorter and shorter sermons. That sounds counterintuitive, right? Shorter attention spans should mean shorter sermons. But for years I’ve been preaching an average of 45 minutes per sermon. I’d preach longer if it wouldn’t cause parking chaos at Saddleback!

“That’s why I use what I call sermon features, which are special segments you add into your sermon to capture the attention of your listeners. I’ve found you can hold people’s attention much longer when you interweave a variety of features into your sermon.

“Here are a few of the sermon features we often use at Saddleback:
     • Testimonies: When someone hears me say it, they may dismiss me as the paid spokesman. But when they hear it through a testimony, it’s from a satisfied customer. For non-believers, the personal testimony has much more credibility.
     • Skits or dramas: If your church has a drama group, this would be a great way to break up your sermons. It also gets more people involved in your worship service.
     • Interviews: You can use interviews three different ways. They can be live, by video or by telephone. Obviously live would be best, but each of these can work well. A “man on the street” is another great option …
     • Tag-team preaching: When we do this, I’ll either share a point with another pastor or trade points back and forth. Another example, my wife and I have done messages together on marriage and other topics. Sometimes just having a different voice shakes things up.”
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