Rev. McCain over on his blog has brought up some real food for thought and his own concerns about the length and content of sermons. It is certainly something for a new pastor like myself to think about and I have been.
My thoughts on sermon length and the content are simple: it should be as long as it takes to tell your flock that they are sinners who deserve nothing more than eternal damnation from a holy and just God; God, the One Holy Trinity, has looked upon His people in mercy and has sent His only begotten Son, true God and true man, to earth to live the holy life we are unable to live, to die as a holy, perfect and complete offering for our sins, and to be raised to new life for our complete justification. This Jesus Christ is our sufficiency, our completeness and in Him we live new lives. In Him we are everything God wants us to be.
All of Scripture makes this clear, as Christ is the key to understanding all of Scripture. If you need 30-45 minutes to say this, so be it, as pastors, called and ordained servants of the Word, you know what your sheep need and how to best give it to them, even if that means a 5 minute sermon. Also as pastors it is your duty to teach the congregation. That can also be done with the good Law and Gospel sermon, but the main goal, in my mind, is not teaching, but reminding the people of who they are , what they deserve and what they have been freely given. The best time for going into greater depth on a text or the doctrines of the Church is in regular catechesis, that happens everyday, in every service, in every sermon, in every Bible Study, etc.
I think it is good to bring these issues up, however it must be done with care. Telling lay-people on a public blog that 10-15 minute sermons are"sermonic starvation" has a real danger of undermining the office of the Holy Ministry, and, although it is good for pastors and lay-people to consider, it must be emphasized that there is not a divine command from Scripture that sermons do anything other than preach Christ and Him crucified for sinners. Anything else falls within the realm of faithful pastoral ministry and Christian freedom.
So, parishioners, listen to what your pastors are saying. A lecture has its place, but it does not save sinners. A sermon, one that is truly faithful, makes the feet of the bearer beautiful, as he, through a divine call, has published salvation for a people in desperate need. Don't assume that a 15 minute sermon is not feeding the flock, for if it preaches our dear Lord and what He does for us in spite of ourselves, it truly is the Word of eternal life!