Preaching Without Notes

An interesting article from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church’s Ordained Servant

True passion on the part of the preacher is obvious to his hearers, and it conveys to those hearers something of the importance of what he’s preaching. But polished language may well be the enemy of passion. No doubt undisciplined passion can lead to infelicitous speech, but passion affects hearers beyond what mere eloquent words can do.

Those of you who preach, do you use a full manuscript? None? Or something in between? Why?


  1. I preach with full manuscript. It keeps me on point and keeps me on time (it would be too easy to add unnecessary illustrations, elaborations, etc. otherwise). When I used to preach without full notes, I often would be frustrated afterward that I forgot to mention something that I felt was important. The problem was not lack of preparation or passion, but lack of a good memory. I believe that I am able to preach with passion when it’s a sermon for which I have invested much time and effort–even if it is written word for word. And yes, I read it verbatim and rarely stray from what’s written (though few people know that I’m reading my notes).

    One added bonus: if I’m called upon to preach in a hurry, I can go to the files and the sermon is ready.

  2. Hey Mark,

    I’ve always wanted to preach without notes, but never really have. I can’t do full manuscript. I bring my outline with bullet-pointed notes to keep on track. Those notes, combined with my study notes the sermon is based on, enables me to do what you do (pull it out of the file).

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