Letter: Sermons that can serve to spur us on

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The Independent Online
Sir: Perhaps the view of Adam Faith that religion is a prop (Hunter Davies interview, 3 May) is linked with your third leader of the same date. Maybe lower church attendances can be accounted for by those fed on five- to ten-minute homilies of 'prop' content and found by them to be insufficient.

Writing as a Methodist lay preacher, I can say that anything less than 20 minutes is generally regarded as unacceptable by congregations and one with 'prop' content would soon have them yawning. 'I am come' said Jesus, 'that you might have life in all its fullness': this does not sound like much of a prop to me; spur is the first word that comes to mind.

In your reference to increases in congregations, you make the point that they are from a low base. This low base is considerably more than the active membership of all the political parties added together. And while politicians can easily speak for 20 minutes, in the majority of instances on barren themes, is it conceivable that preachers cannot manage 20 minutes of interest on the most dynamic themes of all time?

Yours faithfully,


Halifax, West Yorkshire

4 May