Preaching Without Notes

Still in Moscow. But posting from Charlotte a week earlier.

I’ll be returning on Friday, August 1. And I’ll preach on Sunday the 3rd, continuing our series Things Jesus Never Said. Did you know that he never said, “I came to bring peace on earth”??? This Sunday you’ll see what he really did say

A lot of you have asked how it is that I give messages like the one coming up without using any notes. Since this is a week that really challenges that process (spending the week either in Russia or on the plane coming home), this is a good time to answer.

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

  • Working way ahead. I am usually working on sermons a month in advance. For example, the next one I need to prepare is for September 7 — the first one in a cool new series called Heroes.
  • 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. Yes, I’m OCD about it. Remember — the manuscript I write in a given week is for a sermon that will be delivered about a month later.
  • 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 morning, I’ve already gone over it at least six times, usually making some changes along the way.
  • 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.

Hey — I think the one coming for Sunday has several of those moments. It better, since it will be travelling with me from Russia with love.