They are running an AlphaCourse that starts on Tuesday the 23rd of January 2007, with the introductory supper on Tuesday 16th January at 7pm. Come and be converted ;-) --RobHu
Services are 10:30am on Sunday. The services last about 2 hours, sometimes a bit more. This is 45 minutes of lively worship at the start, a bit of time for notices / announcements / prayer for the world / random things in the middle, and then a sermon of roughly 1 hour. Yes, this is LONG for a sermon. Lots of people at CityChurchCambridge think so. But the elders (the three people who lead the church) don't think it's too long, so... we're stuck with it.
PeterTaylor: Unlike some one-hour lectures, particularly in the sciences, you don't have notes in front of you telling you what the speaker's going to say, which is useful because it means you can concentrate rather than trying to read ahead. I suspect these people AlexChurchill knows who think an hour is too long haven't been undergraduates at any point in the past couple of years.
AlexChurchill: Most likely true. But does this mean the church should give sermons of lengths that only undergraduates can concentrate for?
SunKitten: I disagree with Peter. An hour-long sermon is the most I can stand, and I'm still a student. The supposed maximum span of concentration of an average human is 40 minutes. However, that's only the sermon. I think EdenChapel manages well on 25-35 minute sermons in a service of length one hour to one and a half hours. And I (as you say) am used to listening and concentrating. What of the people who aren't, or who have children (a nightmare if bored in a 5 minute sermon, let alone an hour)? (One disadvantage of student-hood is that one learns to sleep inconspicuously during lectures, a skill all too easily applied to sermons).
That's not to say that long, long services don't have their uses but I would say that they are probably best restricted to those people who do get something out of them (which works here since there are enough churches of different styles in Cambridge to suit almost everyone. This is not true of other areas). I would guess that there are fewer of these people than you might think, especially outside of Cambridge, which is an academic greenhouse.
When designing a sermon, does one cater for the most capable and omit all those below that level or aim for the least capable so as to include everyone? That's not necessarily an easy question to answer for every issue, but for sermon length I would say that one should aim for a shorter sermon so that more people can gain from it. Long sermons could be arranged at other times for those people who enjoy such. But that is, of course, all IMHO and others can feel free to differ - there are plenty enough churches here to go round :)
PeterTaylor: You disagree with which statement? (Response to other points planned for some time in the future, when I can think through it more carefully)
SunKitten: When I read your post, I got the impression that hour long sermons were not only defended by you but that anything less would not be as good. I mainly got that impression from the 'people who don't like hour long services have probably never been undergraduates' bit. I dislike sermons longer than 45 minutes so your statement does not hold for me. In answering, I got into a bit of a rant, but the main point I wanted to make is that hour long sermons are not necessarily the best length even for people who have been undergraduates.
PeterTaylor: I've worked out what I think now. I think DrMartynLloydJones? said something about the right sermon length being as long as you're saying something useful and keeping people's attention. Some people can't hold your attention for five minutes, whereas others can speak for two hours and it feels like twenty minutes, even though you know they've said too much to fit it into twenty minutes. IMO the sermons at City don't feel too long, and while I personally don't find every sentence helpful, I wouldn't want them cut; sometimes, I know some things have been cut to fit the sermon into an hour, and I wish they hadn't.
SunKitten: Fair enough. However, I have been to church and CU meetings at least once a week for most of my life (I know, isn't it sad?) and I have only once found someone who could talk for ages and I enjoyed it so much I never noticed. Even with Tom Chapman, a speaker to whom I really enjoy listening, I find too long a sermon gets to me. And in any case, it is still true that there will be people who don't find a subject/speaker quite as enthralling as you do, and for them a long sermon will be boring. So I would still vote for a shorter sermon (25 - 45 minutes) which will cater for more people, if it were coming to a vote, which it isn't :)
They encourage everyone to get involved in serving the church in some way or other. (Setting up the church building, doing PA, serving tea and coffee after the meeting, playing in the worship group, helping with the children's work, etc - there are lots of areas of service.)