Preaching

5 Reasons Why I Prepare A Sermon Manuscript

Higher-impact vocabulary and illustrations.

When you take time to write everything out, you can more carefully craft your words for greater impact than if you get up there with some main ideas from bullet points.

RG Lee, long-time pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, was known as a master orator and wordsmith. For example, his famous “Payday Someday” sermon included the line, “I introduce to you Ahab, the vile human toad who squatted upon the throne of his nation.”

The same goes for illustrations–manuscripting forces you to take time to think through every part of the sermon, even the illustrations. I know some preachers who are skilled at giving illustrations off the cuff, but I tend to think through mine beforehand if they are actually going to help people connect the doctrinal truth to the illustration.

People might better remember those well-crafted lines and thoughtful illustrations, which hopefully leads to better memory of the meaning of the passage being preached.

Reduces the likelihood of Speaking Tics.

I used to create a bulleted outline with main points and then sub-bullets. But when time comes to actually preach, if you haven’t thought through all of your words, then you’re more likely to let out those tics. Mine were uh and right?. Listening to my sermon recordings and manuscripting helped fix that (I’m not perfect but its better!).

Creates smoother transitions between points.

Similar to higher-impact vocabulary, manuscripting makes transitions between main points smoother and easier for the listener to distinguish. I remember listening to sermons growing up and then wondering what did he just preach? Some of that is the listener’s fault, but sometimes it is the preacher’s fault for not giving clear navigation throughout the sermon. Manuscripting forces you to think through the introduction and conclusion to make them effective.

When I was using bulleted lists, I didn’t focus well on the intro or conclusion. I would just sometimes start by saying, we’re looking at Matthew 12:1-6 today so turn there and let’s go. Yikes! Thankfully, far better ways of introducing a sermon exist.

Allows the message to marinate longer to increase effective delivery.

In a normal week, I’ve got the manuscript for Sunday finished by Thursday, which allows for plenty of time to be thinking on it. I don’t memorize manuscripts and just read them, but manuscripting allows it to be pretty well ingrained in my brain by Sunday.

One Sunday morning, I placed my iPad (I use to display my manuscript) down and another church leader placed his stuff on mine. He had a similar looking device and accidentally took my iPad. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have it until I got up to preach and it was too late to get it. But the sermon content had marinated enough by then that I knew where I was going and I trusted the Holy Spirit to do his work.

Ease of Reference for Future Study.

I am able to look back quickly on how I handled a certain verse or when I used that illustration. I nearly treat it like writing a paper in that I usually put citations in my manuscripts so I can see where I got a definition or a quote. It is also nice to be able to pull up a manuscript in short notice to preach if needed. Maybe you’re filling in for somewhere who got sick at the last minute or you’re on a mission trip and the unexpected opportunity comes. You can quickly pull up a manuscript from a previous sermon, review it, and preach away!

 

How have you found manuscripting beneficial?

 

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

You Are A Preacher

For some reason, God chose to let us be part of his divine plan of redeeming sinners. Without the preaching of the Word of God, people won’t hear, and if they don’t hear, then they won’t believe and then they won’t call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:14-15).

Now this isn’t just talking about the formal preaching setting in a church worship service. The word kerusso that is used in Romans 10:15 means to preach, herald, or proclaim. Anyone who has been saved by Christ has the responsibility to proclaim that Good News to others.

You are a herald in your home;
a herald in your workplace;
a herald to your family;
a herald in a classroom at church;
a herald when you are at the store;

All of us are preachers in the sense that we are to herald the Good News.

Romans 10:15 asks how someone will preach unless they’ve been sent. I want you to know that if you are saved by Jesus Christ, then God himself has sent you to proclaim the Good News. This is how it has always been:

  • It was the Lord who directed the feet and mouth of Moses and Old Testament prophets as they heralded God’s Word.
  • It was the Holy Spirit who came upon Old Testament followers of God to empower them for a mighty work.
  • It was Jesus himself who called the original 12 disciples and taught them.
  • It was Jesus who told us that He has all authority in heaven and earth and then sent them out to teach all the nations everything he taught them.
  • It was Jesus who promised that the Holy Spirit would empower the believers to forever be empowered for the work of evangelism.
  • It was the Holy Spirit who came down on that day of Pentecost and indwelled and empowered every believer.
  • It is the Holy Spirit who will give you the words to say (Acts 2:15).

So yes, God sends us to proclaim the Good News of salvation to a lost and dying world.

So why are we often so silent?

What needs to change in your life so that you are actively fulfilling Romans 10:15?

 

Photo by Anna Vander Stel on Unsplash

How To Listen to Boring Preaching

Ever listen to a boring sermon? As I preacher, I can honestly say that some sermons are more effective than others due to the preacher’s preparation and delivery. But the effectiveness of a sermon could also rest on the listener’s preparation and reception.

Preaching should explain and apply Scripture. It is a laborious work to preach; and it is a laborious work to listen and interact with a sermon. You might find Daryl Crouch’s article helpful on the listener’s preparation side, and I want to address the reception side by sharing a practical method of interacting with a sermon to allow it to be most effective in conforming you to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29).

I first read about the DOOR method from Adam Feldman in his book Journaling: Catalyzing Spiritual Growth Through Reflection (chapter 6). I want to share that outline, adding a few comments to each part.

When listening to a sermon, take notes! Here’s an outline you could use:

D- Details

Adam says to write down the important details about the sermon preached, like the date, preacher’s name, sermon title, and Scripture reference(s). When I was preparing to officiate a funeral, I looked through the Bible of the godly woman we would remember. I was struck by how she wrote these details in the margins of her Bible. She has my name and “1st sermon at Central” by the passage I first preached there. The memories were remarkable!

I would also add that if you are listening to a sermon and these details are not easily found, especially the Scripture reference, you might want to consider if you are actually listening to preaching. Also, being able to look quickly to compare your notes when you’ve heard sermons from the same passage could be very helpful to remind you of the applications you made during those different seasons of life.

O- Outline

Adam recognizes that you must discipline yourself to listen for the “flow” of a sermon. Some preachers readily and easily give an outline, whether in print or verbally. I think this part of your sermon notes could help you become less distracted. You have to be intently listening in order to complete this section of notes. Listening for the outline/flow of a sermon will keep you from cherry-picking tweetable quotes without understanding the context in which they were given.

O- Observation

Adam points out that you should be observing three persons: yourself (What is going on inside of you as you listen? Are you open to receiving this message?), the preacher (what is he most passionate about in the sermon?), and the Holy Spirit (What is He saying to you?).

I like this reflective model of listening. It takes the main points you might list in the “outline” section of your notes a little further, setting you up for recognizing how you should be transformed by that Scripture. While Adam is right in focusing on your reactions to the message, I would say that you must be careful not to let your feelings during the sermon blind to the meaning of the biblical text.

For example, I know people who were upset after a sermon I preached it touched on a particular sin they were involved in. If they were note-taking during that sermon, they might have noted how they felt. Ultimately, they stopped coming to our worship services because they allowed their emotions to supercede Scripture. Always conform your feelings to the truth of Scripture, not the other way around.

R- Respond

Consider asking, “How will I apply the Word preached today in the coming days?” I like this final point because it does not allow you to leave a sermon as an academic or philosophic pursuit. The Bible is to be learned and lived!

Two common mistakes in responding is 1) being too general or 2) putting too much. If you are too general, you won’t actually do anything. Saying, “Speak encouraging words to my neighbor when I see him outside” is better than “love others more.”  If you write five specific responses, you risk being overwhelmed and potentially inactive.

Try the DOOR method this Sunday. What other ways do you interact with a sermon?

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