What one minute can do

A hundred years ago* when I was just out of seminary and trying to pastor a neighborhood church in the Mississippi Delta, a radio executive taught me something I have never forgotten. (* Well, okay, 47 years ago to be exact.)

Benny Gresham said, “Each day at 9:15, we lose half our audience.”

Local pastors were given time for a daily 15 minute devotional. Pastors in the local ministerial association would be assigned a week at a time.  Some would show up each day and do the program live, while most would record them all at one sitting.

Gresham explained, “Most people don’t want to sit through a 15 minute preaching service on the radio. But they’ll listen to anything for a minute.  Even a test signal.”

He said, “If I were a pastor, I’d spend my money buying one minute spots and sprinkle them throughout the day.  And I’d try not to sound too preachery.”

Good advice, they say, is where you find it.

Later, when a church member gave me $500 to do something on radio–“See what you can do with this!”–I went to Benny’s competition, the country music station, and bought short spots. And discovered he was right.

A few years later in another town, we did 10 second spots on television. Still later, in a large city where I pastored, we bought 30 second radio spots.

Not long ago, my son Marty said, “Dad, I have started you a ‘One Minute Bible Study‘ feature on Facebook.”

Just like that. DIdn’t even ask permission or anything.  (smiley-face goes here)

That, incidentally, is how we came to have www.joemckeever.com some dozen years ago.  Marty informed me that he had reserved that domain since “you’ll be needing it in the future.”  Sure enough, in 2004, when I left the pastorate to become director of missions for the churches of metro New Orleans, I suddenly needed a website of my own.  That’s why, when you scroll down the right side of our blog through the archives, you’ll see they end along about 2004.  Or perhaps, they “start” there.

Actually–getting back to the “One Minute Bible Study”–Marty knew I’d done a few of those Facebook posts on an experimental basis, without any thought of doing them on a regular basis.

But, I loved the idea, and now we have over 50 of them on the FB page called “One Minute Bible Study.”  At the prompting of readers, I’m trying to save them for a book by that title.

You can do a lot in a minute.

Now, being a preacher–and having been accused more than once of loving the sound of my own voice!–I have a hard time saying anything in a minute. But it can be done. (Our “one minutes” can be read in 60 seconds, but if a reader looks up all the references and works them out, he could spend the entire day on any one of them.)

I find myself wondering….

–What if a pastor or worship leader sprinkled the Sunday morning service with a couple of “one minute” features. A testimony, a video, a Scripture reading, a drama, a skit, or even silence.  One minute is probably the ideal length for our short-attention-span audiences, as well as for children’s sermons. (Caution: This should not be overdone. Two per one-hour service would be plenty.)

–What if the pastor stopped in mid-sermon, asked everyone to “press the pause button,” and then did something completely unexpected: sing a short song, have someone else sing a song (that fit the sermon of course), or introduce someone in the congregation who stands where they are and with a microphone (this has to be planned!) says something about something (!) pertaining to whatever the preacher was preaching.  Holding it to one minute is essential, lest the feature overwhelm the sermon. It should “adorn” the sermon, not kill it. Finding the right person to assist in these things is a huge part of making it work.

–What if the pastor did none of these things, but took this issue to the Lord in prayer to ask, “What are you saying to me about this? Is there some area where I should bring in one-minute features?”

The Facebook program which Marty used to install our “One Minute Bible Study” registers not only how many people “liked” and “shared” what we did that day, but also how many came to the page and read it. We’ve had as low as 600 and as high as several thousand.  Even if those numbers are unreliable–we have no way of knowing–and the actual readers are fewer, it’s not too shabby a daily outreach for a retired preacher eager to get the Word out.

What can you do in a minute?


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