How I Preach Without Notes

I’ve been preaching without a full text script for three years now. I’ve also recently had a number of people ask how I do this. This post is an attempt to help and assist those who are curious.

It was Steve Chong from Kirk Place who first challenged me to do it (and apparently Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill who first challenged him). How much my own method resembles either of theirs now I can’t say. What I do know is that Steve put me onto a computer program (and Mark him) that has enabled me to do it.

It’s called xmind. It’s a free mind-mapping program that works on all platforms. It helps me to turn my sermon into a picture. As the age old saying goes, ‘a picture tells a thousand words.’ In this case, it’s actually about three or four thousand.

Here’s an example of what I take with me into the pulpit. This particular talk was on Luke 15:11-24, the first half of the Parable of the Prodigal Son:

It’s rare that I actually look at this diagram too much during a sermon. For the most part, it’s in my head. Structured like this, it also makes the flow of the talk much easier to remember. If you’ve done your CPD hierarchy well, all you are really doing is telling a story. Your Concept will be explained by your Principles, and your Principles explained by your Details.

Finally, it’s worth saying that this diagram has a full text script to match it. I don’t consciously try to memorize the full text, but it does help my mind to string together the right words for each point.

Question: Have you ever tried preaching without notes? What do you take with you when you present and why? Leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “How I Preach Without Notes

  1. Thanks Tim.

    I’ve been experimenting with preaching from actual pictures. I write my full text so that I know exactly where I want to go and what word I want to use when and then I draw a picture or two for each paragraph. For example, two weeks ago I had a point about how marriage is a good gift. I drew a picture of my house with my wife and I in the window. A glance at this told me a) talk about how marriage is good generally and b) use me and my family as an example.

    You can’t get details from it but if I have done the hard work in writing the full text, a picture jogs my memory quickly and without distraction.

  2. Hi Tim, we meet at multiply this year.

    Thankyou so much for this post, in the last few months I have done sermons without notes using this program.

    This program is great and really easy to use.

    I also write out a manuscript and now just summarise the bones into xmind and the map is all you need to memorise majority of the sermon. So thanks again and i hope you are well.


    • Thanks Joel, great to hear from you. I’m pleased you found the post helpful. Yeah x-mind is an excellent program hey? How did you hear about it? Through this post or someone else? I’d love to see an image of one of your maps just to compare. I’m always keen to learn more from others!