This blog detected a motion that was to go before the Anglican Diocese of Sydney Synod. The motion sought to limit sermons to twenty minutes. I found this a strange consideration for Synod and suggested that the problem may not be with the listener but, in part also with the preacher.
The motion has now been heard. An amendment was adopted. Then, the amended motion failed to achieve a required majority. The full text from the draft minutes is copied below.
I'm enamoured with the amendment in its reference to "oratory skills ... in accord with best practice". Further, preachers are to approach preaching with sober judgement.
The amended motion supports the idea that the listening audience's competence is only part factor of the quality of comprehension. The amendment made the motion accord closer to the reality of the problem.
Nonetheless, I am glad the motion failed to gain support.
10.1 Restricting the length of sermons
Dr David Oakenfull moved –
"Synod notes that –
(a) research suggests that while listening to sermons most adults can focus for only 15-20 minutes before starting to lose attention, and
(b) while we may remember about 70% of what was presented in the first ten minutes of a twenty-minute sermon, we are unlikely to retain more than about 20% of what was presented in the last ten minutes.
Therefore to promote more effective teaching of God’s word, Synod urges ministers and other preachers to restrict the length of their sermons to twenty minutes or less."
The Rev Craig Roberts moved as an amendment to Dr Oakenfull’s motion –
‘In the final paragraph, omit the matter following "Synod urges" and insert instead –
(i) the Archbishop to confer with the Principal of Moore Theological College and the Director of Ministry Training and Development to ensure that the training of our diocesan ministers and preachers in oratory skills is in accord with best practice, and
(ii) ministers and other preachers to think of themselves and their preaching abilities with sober judgment (Romans 12:3-8).".’
Mr Roberts’ amendment to Dr Oakenfull’s motion was carried.
Dr Oakenfull’s motion, as amended, was put but was not carried with 233 votes for and 241 votes against the motion.