Sermon delivery

This Sunday (for the second Sunday in a row) I am using a preaching-from-notes style instead of the full manuscript style.  Part of me feels a little guilty – that I am not spending enough time in sermon prep.  But another part of me feels a little more free – more free to allow the Spirit to guide me when I preach the sermon.  I think I am still doing the same amount of sermon prep but the actual preparation is different.  Maybe that is what is causing me to feel this way.

Then there is another part of me that feels a little guilty that I am not producing a manuscript for people to take home or a manuscript for my sermons blog.  But then there is still another part of me that says the sermon is an event, not something tangible that you can hold in your hands.  The sermon is something that happens on Sunday that (hopefully) causes a change in people’s hearts that in turns helps them live the Gospel for others in their daily lives.

With all these "parts of me" it is a wonder I get anything done.  Can anyone out there relate to this?  What are your feelings on the "sermon event"?  Am I silly for feeling guilty?

Right now the feeling of freedom is overriding my feeling of guilt.  I think it is because I am looking more forward to preaching this sermon because of that freedom.  I am not being "tied" to some pre-written words on a piece of paper. 

I don’t know…does this make any sense?


10 thoughts on “Sermon delivery

  1. Chris

    I have preached in both ways, but I prefer a manuscript (By the way, my manuscripts are not written in paragraph form, but rather with phrases indented in various ways, not unlike poetry on a page. I’ve found that if I write my sermons in paragraph form, I read it without much life. If I write my sermons in the more “poetic” form, I deliver it with more life. Though I couldn’t translate the form directly from Word to the html of my blog, you can get the idea by checking out the sermons page on my blog, particularly some of my more recent sermons.)

    I find that when preaching from notes I actually have to practice and prepare MORE, not less, for me to be effective. To me, the sermon must be carefully crafted and prepared, and I worry that without the notes I will go in other directions for which I am not fully prepared. That is why I would practice, practice, PRACTICE my sermon over and over again when preaching from notes – to keep me on track. The delivery might be a bit more fresh than when I preach from a manuscript, but because I’ve practiced my transitions and images and essential points, I’m less likely to go in a last-minute random direction from which I cannot return (I did this in an adult education class the other day. I had prepared all kinds of notes and did all kinds of reading, but then my brain just went in another direction and, in front of 30 parishioners, I had gotten myself into a hole that I couldn’t get out of).

    So, good luck and God bless with this new approach to preaching. When it comes to preaching I will stick to the manuscript, but if you can make preaching from notes work for you, more power to ya!

  2. David

    In my limited experience, I have tried both, but prefer the manuscript for now. Like Chris, the format on the paper is in bullet form ot paragraphs. This helps me give emphasis and be animated.

    However, I rarely preach exactly what is on the paper, and when I finally leave seminary and begin preaching every week I will perhaps try going without a script and only use note cards.

  3. Unlikely Conversation

    I’ve just finished prepping 4 sermons in two week strech and my partner has just finished 3 sermons in 15 days (3 funerals and Lent). In the end what matters is that you have something to say from scripture that relates it to the people.
    One of my teachers in Seminary, Sheldon Tostengard encouraged us to mix it up in terms of our preaching form. Manuscripts, outlines either phrases or sentences, clippings and quotes with transitions, bible study notes to lead a teaching sermon etc. He said they were all valid; but he as a teacher had us work on the manuscript just for the discipline of completing our thoughts before we said anything.
    He said that it was okay to even go in to preach without a completed sermon about every 6 months just because you’ve probably got one inside of you; but he said you could only do it every six months.

    I’ve honored his advice. One other great thing he taught was that we should always start and end with the Word, never anything cute because it’s not what you’re supposed to offer.

  4. Diane

    I mostly use a manuscript, but like UC’s advice. I think I need to do my “Jazz Preaching” sermon post. I do find that when I have preached from notes (except the Jazz Preaching) I need to prepare MORE, not less, to be effective.

    Because of my experience with Jazz Preaching, I’d like to be less tied to a manuscript, but I also feel, with three service, like I need to watch time.

    I know that I DO get too tied to particular words when I write, I really like this phrase and want to say it, so once I write the manuscript, it’s hard to be free.

  5. Diane

    Oh, and Shelden Tostengard was one of my teachers, too! I miss him. though I don’t EXACTLY follow his advice. Sometimes I start my sermon with a story. (I hope it’s not “cute”)

  6. Eric

    My “sermon manuscript” ended being a cross between what Chris and David described – Phrases/paragraphs with key things I wanted to say but also in a little bit of a poetry style. This kept me on track so I didn’t wander but it allowed me a little more freedom to talk to people and not read to them.

  7. Eric

    Unlikely – I used to start with stories quite a bit but now I have a tendency to start with the Word and then move to a time of prayer and then maybe more Word or a story – I do mix this up though. Now…rarely do I start with a story but every once in a while I get caught up in the “cute” story but hopefully it is still preaching a Word.

  8. heartofapastor Post author

    Adam — I couldn’t figure out how to leave a comment at your blog so I will leave one here in case you return here.

    An online sermon illustration database? I know of some that people can subscribe to, but creating one of your own definitely has some value. As for me, I would never have time to do something like that. I have a few resources online and on my desk top and lap top to keep me busy.

    Good luck with your database.

  9. Adam

    thanks for note. I guess the main thought behind all of this is that inputting quotes into a database can be a slow process. But having willing volunteers working with you suddenly makes the whole thing possible. Whilst I read other people are inputting stuff into the database for me!

    By the way it only took me about half a day to set up and I’m not a computer whiz at all!

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