🚨 The Lead Pastor Leadership Intensive is now open for registration! Learn More.

Preaching Through Sermon Notes, Social Sharing Image, Preaching Through podcast

Written by Dave Shrein

Preaching Through Sermon Notes

As a preacher, one of the most important aspects of delivering a powerful and engaging sermon is mastering your notes. The way you prepare and utilize your notes can make a significant difference in how your message is received by your congregation. In this post, we’ll explore the various approaches to preaching notes and discuss strategies for making the most of them.

There are four main methods when it comes to preaching notes: using a full manuscript, a longer outline with bullet points, a short outline on a small card, or no notes at all. Each approach has its own strengths and weaknesses. For instance, writing a full manuscript allows for greater specificity and thoughtfulness in wording and transitions, potentially resulting in a more concise sermon. However, it may feel less natural and engaging unless executed with skill.

On the other hand, using fewer notes can make the sermon feel more authentic and credible, as if the preacher has truly internalized the message. The downside is that the preacher may be more likely to be wordy, sloppy, and repetitive.

For beginning preachers, starting with a full manuscript is often the best approach. This process helps develop the ability to organize thoughts effectively. The act of writing out the sermon in its entirety and practicing it multiple times is invaluable.

However, every preacher should attempt to deliver at least one sermon without notes. This challenge forces the preacher to internalize the message, ensuring it comes from a genuine place. The goal is to master the material rather than memorize the sermon word-for-word.

To allow adequate time for mastering the material, it’s crucial to have a defined preparation system and sermon calendar in place. Last-minute preparation simply doesn’t provide enough opportunity for this level of internalization.

When preparing, preachers should practice out loud and refine the wording of key thoughts until they resonate and can be delivered smoothly. Stumbling over words is a clear indication that they need further refinement.

Marking up notes with colors to highlight scripture references, illustrations, and quotes can help ensure the sermon is well-structured and includes all necessary components. Aim to incorporate explanation, argument, illustration, and application for each main point.

During the actual preaching, consider the placement of notes and other logistics to minimize barriers between the preacher and the congregation. If using a manuscript, a sloped surface can help keep the preacher’s eyes more engaged with the audience. Avoid swaying back and forth between the pulpit and the congregation.

After preaching, some find it meaningful to remove the notes from the Bible, pray, and discard them as a symbolic ritual. This practice reinforces the idea that the preacher’s identity is not tied to the sermon and allows the focus to shift to the following week.

Ultimately, the exact form and style of notes are less important than their ability to serve the preacher in delivering an engaging and faithful message. The goal is to connect with Christ and the congregation, not to preach in a certain way. Preachers should use what works best for them in crafting and delivering powerful sermons that resonate with their audience.

Subscribe to the newsletter below...

Weekly insights to help pastors build the confidence to lead for the long-haul in a changed and changing world.