Why I Preach Without Notes

I recently explained how I preach without notes. As far as I can tell, preaching without notes is becoming increasingly common (probably due to the influence of people like Mark Driscoll from Mars Hill). In this post I want to explain why I do it.

It needs to be said that preaching without notes is not for everybody. It would be a mistake to think that preaching without notes is the only way to preach, or even the best way. It’s just one of the many! So if you are going to preach without notes, have a good reason.

So what’s mine? Here’s five reasons I preach without notes:

1. It helps me avoid perfectionism- I have a tendency to be a perfectionist. When writing essays, I sometimes spend far too long crafting the perfect sentence. For the most part, this is a waste of time. Preaching without a full text means I don’t need to script every sentence in my sermon to be a work of poetry. The script is just a way to gather my thoughts.

2. I didn’t look at my full text anyway- for the first two years of preaching I used a full text. The trouble was that I barely used it. This meant that I’d start preaching on page one of my notes, but wouldn’t need to look at them again until page three of four. The result was that it was too easy to lose my place. Preaching without notes helps me avoid this problem.

3. I’m able to be more engaging- by all reports my preaching has improved since I dropped the full text. Preaching without notes helps me to maintain eye contact with the audience. It frees me up to move around. And it enables me to shift and modify my content depending on the vibe of the audience. My preaching is still far from perfect, but losing the full text script has definitely improved it.

4. My sermons are more memorable- at the end of the day, your sermons have to be memorable if you’re going to preach without notes. There needs to be an obvious structure and flow. Without it, you’re going to have a hard time remembering what to say! One convenient byproduct of this is that your sermons are more memorable and easier to follow for your audience.

5. It communicates authenticity- there’s a case to be made that if you have to read something, you don’t really believe it. Ask me me why I love my wife and I’m not going to read out the top five reasons. I’ve got them nailed. Similarly, preaching without notes subliminally communicates to your audience that you genuinely believe what your talking about. It gives you room to get excited!

With the positives of preaching without notes also comes the negatives. Perhaps there is another blog post to write on those. For me, however, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Question: What method do you use when preaching? Do you use notes? How come? If not, why not? 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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