Preaching Without Notes

A lot of you have asked how it is that I give messages on Sunday mornings without using any notes.

Actually, it’s not just Sundays … this week I’ve been preaching a revival up in Kernersville and those, too, I give without notes.

Getting up and giving a message without notes involves the following:

  • Working way ahead. I am usually working on sermons twp months in advance. For example, this week I prepared the manuscript (see below) for the final sermon in the ThanksLiving series, a message I will deliver on December 3.
  • Preparing a manuscript. I do actually write it out. I spend a lot of time studying, scribbinng, searching, and then when everything is ready, I type it up on the computer. Nine pages, double spaced. 2000 words.Yes, I’m OCD about it. Remember — the manuscript I write in a given week is for a sermon that will be delivered two months later.  A happy consequence of all those manuscripts is that when Abingdon approached me about turning some of those sermons into books & bible studies … voila! … I had “books” almost ready for publication.
  • Going over the manuscript for the coming Sunday every morning at home before I come to the office. If my schedule doesn’t allow it in the early morning, I’ll go over it at some point later in the day. By the time I stand up at 8:30 on Sunday, I’ve already gone over it at least six times, usually making some changes along the way.  This daily process is as much internalizing as it is memorizing.
  • A bizarre memory aid with tiny writing on a note card that people on the staff can let you know about. It’s almost like taking notes on my notes. Weird but it works.
  • Pray especially hard on Saturday. I have a list of other preachers that I pray for on Saturday but I generally don’t forget myself!
  • Have a least one thing in that message that I just can’t wait to say. Either because it is bold or controversial or a deeply held belief. There has to be that one moment — and hopefully more — that gets my adrenaline going.

I believe the message this coming Sunday — called Falling Well from the “Where Apples Fall” series — has several of those adrenaline flowing moments.  I’ll sign off now so I can make sure to internalize them all.