A new study examined the length of sermons among the major branches of Christianity in the US, but a surprising find comes when you put together these results with a separate, unrelated study that looks at church attendance and revenue.
A new analysis by the Pew Research Center examined sermon length among the major Christian denominations in the United States.
The longest sermons were recorded at Black Protestant churches, and they were an average of almost 4 times longer than the shortest sermons, which were recorded at Roman Catholic churches.
Among all denominations, the median sermon length was roughly 37 minutes. The longest sermons were an average of 54 minutes delivered at historically Black Protestant churches.
Near the median were evangelical Protestant congregations at 39 minutes.
On the lower side, were mainline Protestant churches delivering 25-minute sermons on average.
The shortest in length were Catholic sermons, clocking in at an average of only 14 minutes.
Of note is the fact that even though black Protestant sermons lasted longer than mainline Protestant sermons – both had roughly the same number of words, according to the Pew Research Center study.
The time difference was that black sermons took more dramatic pauses during the delivery of their oratory, as well as time for worshipers in the pews to respond, plus breaks for musical interludes.
In a separate and unrelated study on church revenue by The National Study of Congregations’ Economic Practices (NSCEP), when compared to the Pew Research Center sermon length study – an interesting correlation appears.
The aim of the NSCEP was simply to look at declining church attendance and revenue. Despite an overall decline in religious affiliation and attendance across the board among all denominations, some are still experiencing an increase in revenue.
Among Black Protestant churches, 59% of them saw revenue increases. At the opposite end of the spectrum, among Catholic congregations, 56% of them saw their revenue decrease.
The interesting correlation is, when we look at the results of the Pew Research Center study, Black Protestant churches have the longest sermons, and their attendance and revenue are growing.
While Catholic churches, which have the shortest sermons, are experiencing a decline in both attendance and revenue.