How long should a church service last? There’s no perfect answer. Context, content, and the congregation’s expectations all play a role in setting the service length. If, in the planning process, you realize that your service includes too many elements and will probably run long, here are a few things you can do to get things back under control.
Start on time.
A service that starts fashionably late is a broken promise. Start when you say you will; keep the promise you made when you published your service times. Start on time and you’ll buy back several extra minutes to invest in the service without the need to cut anything.
Eliminate things that no one will miss.
If an element can be cut with little notice, you should probably cut it. Try trimming elements like repetition and announcements that don’t apply to everyone.
Round up your time estimates.
The video lasts 3:48. Estimate five minutes anyway. It probably has some setup, or wrapup, or both. These invisible additions will turn your 70-minute service plan into 112 minutes unless you account for them. If, by some miracle, everything in a service runs on time, don’t sweat it—nobody in the history of church has ever complained about an early dismissal.
Don’t add. Replace.
Some elements will be missed if they’re cut. Handshake time and the closing song probably have a handful of fans, but you shouldn’t be afraid to cut them when you need the space to accomplish something else. Rare elements like a baby dedication or extra-special announcement can take the place of a regular element like handshake time, because next week there won’t be any babies to dedicate. Avoid tacking additions onto the service without making concessions elsewhere. Don’t add; replace.
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