30 MINUTE WORSHIP – GUARANTEED

The big sign outside the church building reads, “30 Minute Worship – Guaranteed.” It’s a new concept of church for busy people. They advertise, “It’s all about the quality, not about the quantity.” They offer worship for 10 minutes, the word for 12-15 minutes and response for 5 minutes for those that don’t have much time.

Have we become so busy that we now need a worship service that lasts the same length of a tv sitcom? Are we so time starved that we now can only do a Sweet Half-Hour of Prayer? What’s next, drive thru church where you don’t even have to leave your car?

I’m actually not sure what I think about this. Here are a few questions still swirling around in my head that I’d love your opinion on:

  • My concern really isn’t with the church’s offer of a 30 minute service. In fact, I love the fact that a church is trying something new to reach out to people who don’t think they have time for God. But I think it says something about our society when we can’t give God more than 30 minutes?
  • I know there is no time limit on how long a worship service should last and even a little is better than none. But what does it say about our priorities when we can give 2 hours to our children’s soccer or a movie, but can’t squeeze more than 30 minutes out of our week for God on Sunday?
  • One thing I do know is that it’s a good thing my old friend, Harley Fewell isn’t going to this 30 minute church. He would have messed the whole time-schedule up, because when he was asked to lead the prayer on Sunday mornings you could count on at least a 10 minute prayer. How do I know? As a kid I timed him on my watch! :)

I’d love your opinion. What do you think about a “30 Minute Worship” service, guaranteed?

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Article by Trey Morgan

I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast. Read 1182 articles by
24 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Shawn says:

    I remember Harley’s prayers. They were long but they were beautiful. I remember telling Harley if he prayed more often, he wouldn’t have to pray so long.

  2. Greg says:

    My dad would leave Harley in the prayer-dust!! When we moved to Florida last century, (’85) there was a church in Cocoa, FL that had drive in church. They had the speakers from an old drive-in movie out in the parking lot so people would not have to get out of their cars. I echo your concerns, though, and would never be able to preach for their service … not if worship was going to be that long!

  3. Tucker says:

    It seems God only become real when a building is blown up or knocked down and people are killed. Priorities only seem to change for people when God is needed. When things are normal…30 minutes ought to suffice. What’s wrong is our attention spans are short. I am going to work on a 10 minute prayer.

  4. preacherman says:

    Trey,
    Aren’t our services “one hour” guaranteed? Do we as ministers get grief if we go over? Our worship services you know what to expect every time you go. Traditional worship (2 songs, prayer, one song, communion, one song, sermon, etc). The progressive churches (call to worship, 3-5 songs standing with praise team energy, 10 minute sermon, communion, pastors prayer, etc.) Progressive services might be a little over an hours but not much more than that as if any other church.

    I think as Christians our attention and focus is on the wrong things when we only want to worship God for 30 minutes. Our focus is God and Christ His Son then, we forget about time, we worship in “Spirit” and “Truth”, time with the Saints seems encouraging and rewarding.

    I don’t know about any of you but God is my life and 30 or 1 hour on sunday or wed. isn’t enough. I need Him with me all day, everyday.

    Is the gift of grace worth far more than 30 minutes of our time one day a week. Is that really what Christianity is about? They might as well name the church “The Church for the Sick and Weak” “If you dont’ want to commit then come to the 30 minute church”….
    Crazy thinking.

  5. Brie says:

    I don’t want to sound terribly shallow, but there are some things about a 30 minute long worship that would be nice. My son is 16 months old. Service directly conflicts with naptime, and although at home he goes down without a peep most of the time, we can’t do his routine at church and it freaks him out to no end. It is a fight every Sunday morning to keep him calm and quiet long enough to make it through the first song and a prayer, and going any further than that is pretty much unheard of.

    I haven’t heard a sermon in, oh, about nine months, and haven’t got to sing more than two songs in a service since I don’t know when.

    Now, if I think back to the days BEFORE I had a lap full of squirmy baby, then I think a short worship service would make me sad. I love to sing in church, I love the peace and the calm that comes with sinking into the music. That’s not something that I can reproduce on my own, since I don’t sing much bass.

    So I guess I could swing either way. It would be unbelievable novel to actually get to hear part of a sermon. I’ve started telling Kyle that if there’s a particular song I want him to sing, he’d better sing it first, because that’s probably the only one I’ll get to hear. :)

    Something worth noting: if the only time you are getting spiritually fed is on Sunday, then it doesn’t matter if you’re having fast food or a seven-course meal. You’re still going to starve the rest of the week.

  6. Karen says:

    30 minutes/1 hour/1 1/2 hours… it’s all relative to where you are. In some churches, 30 minutes can seem like an hour and a half. We are currently at a nondenominational church whose services are around an hour and a half, with 30-40 minutes of it being the sermon. Those are some pretty long minutes. I’ve sat through longer lessons elsewhere that seemed shorter, though.

    30 minutes wouldn’t be long enough for me, though. I love me some singing. There just couldn’t be enough singing with a 30-minute time limit.

  7. John Roberts says:

    I was going to say that the drive-in / drive-through church is already here, but Greg beat me to it. (Isn’t that how Robert Schuller started what became the Crystal Cathedral?)
    I suspect that even of the folks who show up for an hour, you’ve probably only got their attention for 30 minutes anyway. And I imagine several years ago, when someone suggested reducing the assembly time to an hour, there were those who thought that was terrible that people could only give an hour… But I do agree that it is pathetic that people have the time for everything else but God, and then complain about the little that they do give him.

  8. nick says:

    Trey,

    This idea creates several different thoughts and feelings in me.

    1) Of course, I have the traditional reflex thought, “How DARE you tell God that he only deserves 30 minutes!!!”

    2) Then, I have the reflex to that: “Nick, how mature were YOU when you first became a follower of Jesus?”

    Then I sat and felt guilty for a little while.

    I thought about consumer ideology.

    I thought about the “me and God” syndrome.

    I thought about legalism.

    I thought about church planting and missionality.

    (I’m on the circ desk at the library right now and it is really quiet, so I had a lot of thinking time)

    Here are my tentative conclusions: 1) Karen is right – no particular amount of time spent gathered on one day a week will fulfill our need for connectedness with God and one another. Can you imagine what our ancestors would think of what WE think of as a God-honoring length of time?

    2) We have a responsibility to meet people where they are. There is nothing inherently sinful about a congregation making “30-Minute Service – Guaranteed!” part of their identity. It could actually be very useful in a church plant environment – a 30-minute service to give seekers a taste of that haunting social memory of “church.”

    3) To fulfill our responsibility to Jesus, though, such an identity choice would need to be linked with strong family and small-group life and a concentration on spiritually formative work that will place seekers before God in such a way that his Spirit will whet their appetite for more of Him.

    I must admit, though, that my heart doesn’t like the idea of treating God like fast-food.

  9. TREY MORGAN says:

    Excellent, excellent thoughts. I’m glad I asked you guys. Hope to hear more.

  10. AncientWanderer says:

    So, we have friends on both sides of the issue and we always back our friends. I love the “new” decision making process ;).

    Question:
    Where in the Bible does it say that Worship has anything to do with what the immature or non child of God wants? Yeah, sorry actually asking for scripture that says we should base our Worship on the outlining community.

    Now, evangelism has the “become all things” clause. But where is the “become all things” clause in Worship? I know the non believer is supposed to “experience” God in our assemblies but where does it say he/she is supposed to do it on THEIR terms?

    Just Wondering.

  11. Brie says:

    Um. Why do we seem to automatically think that sitting some place for 30 minutes longer than someone else sits some other place makes worship “better”?

    I’ve heard 15 minute sermons that were awesome, 30 minute sermons that were really 15 minute sermons preached twice, and hour long sermons where I was disappointed that they didn’t last longer. Doesn’t what’s going on mean more than how long it goes on for? I mean, it does say that the early church met together every day and held all their things in common…oh, goodness. We’ve probably all read Acts. They would think that we were featherweights for only having worship for an hour!

    Crummy day at work guys, I don’t mean to pick a fight. :)

  12. Super Andre says:

    Trey,
    You bring a good point. I have seen so much change in churches its unbelievable. What I see is a trend that we has Christians try to adjust God and his word to our lives. What I mean by that is we set our lives and then try to squeeze God in there when we can. To my understanding what should be is, US the God’s people, the servants, adjust to God’s life. I myself fall it to the category that I try to adjust God into my busy life, and I must be honest that every time I have done that I have missed out on his blessings and grace. We have learned, over the years to be selfish and do everything we can to do it our way. I hope this makes sense to all of you. We must not forget Jesus died for us, not the other way around. You all have a blessed day.

  13. That Girl says:

    I didn’t notice the 30 minute guarantee so much as the guarantee of worship!!! Sometimes we miss that!

  14. Kim says:

    I think we have to get to the point where we realize that true worship has very little to do with what goes on in our corporate church setting on Sunday morning and everything to do with how we reflect Jesus in our every day lives. If the only time we take time to “worship” is on Sunday, whether it is for 30 minutes or 3 hours, we are probably spiritually malnourished and certainly not in a position to give to God in our worship.

  15. James says:

    I really appreciated the comment by Brie. The starvation of people is rampant.

    In listening to the discussion here and other places about the un/non churched and the churched as they are commonly labeled these days, There really should be some times that are for each and some that may include both. It is like in any other area of discussion we need to consider what is appropriate.

    There are some conversations new converts don’t need to be a part of. There are some conversations that need to be had only amongst men or women. A 30 min worship time for the unchurched, as was I beleive suggested above, may whet the appetite. Those who are more mature may need to have worship times that are longer. When was the last time you heard of, much less participated in, a prayer time for more than 30 min.? I grew up with all night prayer times. Maybe we need to beef that up! imho

  16. blogprophet says:

    the old “quality time” lie that we use as parents to relieve the guilt of not spending much “quantity of timie” with them.

    i don’t think our children or God are fooled much by it

  17. Haley says:

    My favorite kinds of Sundays are Sundays where I spend pretty much the whole day worshiping God and fellowshiping with my brothers and sisters. But if having a 30 minute worships means that more people might come then maybe it’s a good thing. For those of us who like to make it a whole day thing; we don’t have to be confined to worshiping God for just 30 minutes.
    Though at the same time if a person is drawn to a service because it’s only 30 minutes then it’s time to look at their priorities in life.
    Thanks for always getting me to “think” about things!

  18. newheights says:

    I don’t have an issue with a 30 minute worship service. On a Wednesday we do one that is 15 minutes, we just call it a devotional time. So obviously time isn’t an issue.

    I do wonder about the marketing of the service though. You see I have no problem with length but if it is advertised in a way that says I know you feel guilty about not checking in with God so we wanted to give you an easy way to get that done, well, then maybe a 15 minute devotional would even be better.

    A 30 minute guarantee sounds a lot like something pizza delivery does as a gimmick to get more orders. I’m not sure making God a gimmick is wise.

    If we are trying to get people who say it is to long or to boring to finally come then we have probably already lost since giving up self is a part of what Jesus asks followers to do.

    If they constantly ask the church to sacrifice for them then we may have no hope. But hay we crossed that consumer bridge awhile back and we will probably pay that price for years to come.

    In the end I think it could be done to help connect people to God in a great way. I just would watch how it is marketed.

    Good question and discussion. A lot of good thoughts. I’m glad you asked.

    Darin

  19. Fillmycup says:

    Thought one: What are you serious?

    Thought two: How is this different than when we tell our minister he can’t go over because the Packers play at noon? Am I a hypocrite???

    Thought three: Freezing cold winter in WI… church in my car sounds kind of nice. Heat and coffee… when your church building boiler is tempermental that it a plus!

    Thought four: Well at least people are getting some religion even if for only 30 minutes

    Thought five: What about fellowship? That is the main reason I go to church. Well, that and bible class. Come to think of it, during the sermon I am usually laughing at the babies in front of me.

    Thought six: Yep, I guess I am a hypocrite!

  20. jamie riley says:

    Trey – I remember watching a skit called “speedy church” when I was a teen. In the skit the drama group would go through the “worship service” as quickly as possible. After they were finished one of actors would look at his watch and say…2 minutes and 35 seconds…” then together all the actors would say, “That’s too long, we need to have a talk with that preacher!”

    This is a great and thought provoking post…and there have been lots of great comments added to it as well.

    When I think about this post my mind goes to the lost and unchurched…how would Jesus reach out to them today? Where would he meet them? What does all this have to do with “in spirit and in truth?” Is 30 minute church a possible starting place for the newbies?

    Intresting thoughts…

    Have a great night…I really enjoyed this post.

  21. Mike J. says:

    I think this is sad. The place where I worship is at a point where one hour of worship is too much for many. I do not understand why we can spend so much time doing everything else in life and then let worship be a thing that must be rushed through. My how we forget what God has done for us and how we need to respond to him.

  22. The Crutchers says:

    hhmmmmm…. I would say that the 30 Minute Church would not be for me but if that is the only way some people would go, do you think it might be worth it? If what they hear is good quality stuff, maybe they would crave more .

  23. willow says:

    The last time i had to go to the doctor i had a 23 minute wait. Once i signed in, i took a seat and i looked around to see who was there ahead of me (oh God forbid, that someone that arrives after me would get called in before me), that took just a minute. I was also scanning the crowd to see if anyone i knew was there, perhaps someone I hadn’t seen for a while. No such luck. I made my way over to the used magazines and as i picked through them i wonder how many sick people had touched them. Alot, i bet. It was finally my turn to see the doctor.

    When I get ready for church on Sunday morning, or for Bible study,or sitting in the wing chair to read a daily devotional, or any other time that i am able to spend time with God, the first thing I do is think about the time that I am able to spend. I want it to be quality time. I pray for focus and clarity so that the word will sink into this thick skull of mine and take hold.

    So for an actual sermon to be 30 minutes, I can see it and I can also be grateful that God will ALWAYS be ready for me no matter how much time I have for him.

    The next time I have a doctors visit, I think I’ll take my own reading material, the good book. For I know i’ll have a few mnutes to spend with God.

  24. Kevin Harrison says:

    Hi Trey,

    My name is Kevin Harrison and I’m the pastor of the church that developed the 30 minute worship concept, VLC in Waco, TX (www.vlcwaco.com).

    Let me help everyone understand the heart behind what we’re doing: First of all, we still have our “normal” service which lasts an hour and twenty minutes, but we offer this service for several reasons: 1) We have some people in our area who work on Sunday and it works for them to be able to go to service in this time frame; 2) We have people who suffer from medical conditions who can’t sit for more than 30 minutes at a time; and 3) We use this service for all of our volunteers who serve in some other place in ministry on Sunday mornings at our 10am worship gathering. How many times do volunteers in churches get overlooked as they serve with everything inside of them, but they find themselves missing out on attending a corporate worship gathering? We have determined that if we only do it for our volunteers that it is 100% worth the effort!

    The ultimate goal is to get people to come into the door and then work them into our community. We’ve understood from the beginning that this service will not be for everyone and that’s cool. However, it’s been very effective and people’s lives have been changed in the process.

    I actually find that I have to put more preparation time in to get a message down to 15 minutes. I would encourage everyone to go to our website, http://www.30minuteworship.com, and listen to an audio message so you can hear for yourself. I would submit that if you can get a person to come to church for 30 minutes, it’s better than someone not coming at all!

    Thanks for posting this and I pray God will bless you amazingly!

    Kevin Harrison

About Me

Trey Morgan Here are my thoughts about marriage, family, raising children, humor, faith and the life God intended for us all. I am a Christian husband and father, who moonlights as the minister for the church of Christ in Childress, Texas. My wife Lea and I have been married for 25 years. We are doing our best to raise our 4 boys, who are all growing up way too fast.

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Husband, father and cancer survivor & Senior Minister for the Childress Church of Christ. Tweets about life, marriage, Texas Rangers and randomness.
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