If you cannot say it 30 minutes, you cannot say it at all. Of course, my speaking is primarily to unbelievers who are not accustomed to sitting and listening to a sermon. Even with believers, though, your message is enhanced when you say what you need to say in 30 minutes. Speaking of eternal things is still no reason to speak for an eternity!
First, consider that the attention span of many is relatively short. Ever notice how television commercials are getting longer while the time between them is getting shorter? Television program producers know their audience, and that audience is the same people you’re speaking to on Sunday morning. Keep it in mind that these people are ones not used to long messages.
Secondly, a 30-minute sermon enhances directness. Relevance committed through directness is essential in speaking. A 30-minute message enhances that directness because you strike them as someone who has something to say. You say it, and then you sit down.
Thirdly, you don’t want people to leave wishing you had stopped sooner. You want them to wish you had gone longer! This could be their motivation to come back to church.
So how do we make that 30-minute goal realistic, especially if you are an expositor of the Scriptures? In a simple passage of Scripture, there is so much more to say than can be said on a Sunday morning. The Bible is a smorgasbord, overflowing with food to strengthen one personally, so let me highlight two helpful thoughts.
Wrap your message around the main idea that you want people to remember.
Capture what the text is saying in one sentence. Then whatever contributes to that main idea, use it. Whatever doesn’t, don’t use it. You are not trying to say everything that the passage says. You’re trying to say something through a main idea that will forever impact their lives.
Consistently develop your skills in speaking.
The reason is rather simple: the art of speaking is not just knowing what to put into a message but rather what to take out. One point when communicated well will impact lives. Learning what not to say can help you keep your messages to 30 minutes.
Learning to communicate truth in 30 minute segments will help move you from being a speaker to a communicator. You have thought through your whole message in such a way as to determine how you can say it effectively in 30 minutes. People soon stop looking at their watches because your 30-minute message invited them to instead look at their hearts.