Saturday, November 5, 2011

Preaching Blah Blah Blah Blah

Some thoughts on preaching without a manuscript that were apparently helpful to others:

I have been mostly off manuscript for the last few months for first time in almost 9 years of preaching. I had been thinking about trying it for a while and then took a week long half day seminar about it when I got to try a mini sermon. I've done it for most sermons. I wanted to be very precise with my words on 9/11 so I didn't do it then. I haven't been doing it for funerals, and there was one other week that I accidentally produced a manuscript.

Things I have learned:
1. It doesn't necessarily take less time to prepare, but different time.
2. I am consciously thinking about my sermon even more throughout the week.
3. I have to do all my prep work and organizational planning with paper and pen or pencil or I will end up typing a manuscript whether I want it or not.
4. Structure is everything. I've been going without notes or anything much of the time and it requires a simple, easy to remember structure that makes sense to me.
5. Know your transitions.
6. The stuff you forget to say ususally didn't need to be said anyway.
7. Writing out your last sentence doesn't hurt. I find that winding it up is the hardest part.
8. (I think this one goes for manuscript preaching, too) - One point is enough for on sermon. If you've got more, save it for the time through the cycle or turn it into a sermon series.

Just my quick thoughts. I have loved the change to my preparation flow, but I do miss having words that feel like they are very carefully placed. I'm also still bothered that I don't have a consistent way of archiving what I'm preaching. I have scanned my notes and saved them all in a folder on the computer. Someday we'll start posting video of most of them and that would help.

All in all I think it has been a good move for me. I'd like to get some honest feedback from the folks who have not raved about it. I wonder if they hate it or just don't have anything to say, but some people REALLY like it. Last week was the first time I did the whole thing out away from the pulpit itself.


Curate Karen said...

Thanks for this, very helpful. I have not yet preached without a manuscript (except for in all-age services when I use a fairly detailed outline just in case). It seems a very scary thing to do, but I would like to give it a try at some stage.

Common Household Mom said...

As a lay person, I only feel qualified to weigh in on #8. I agree, that one main point per sermon is enough. As I am sometimes a teacher/facilitator at Bible studies, I know how hard it can be to leave out points that seem fascinating, interesting, or pertinent. But keeping it to one main point strengthens that point.