Should You Use Notes in the Pulpit?

Well sometimes I feel like I am beating a dead horse. But this time, I am quoting someone else. Peter Mead over at Biblical Preaching is beginning a discussion of why he doesn’t use notes.

Mead echoes just about everyone else who talks about this subject when he begins the post by saying that whether you use notes or not is less important than other concerns, namely is it Biblical, does it have a clear idea and purpose, and is it relevant. I would definitely agree with all of these points.

However Mead’s reasons for preaching without notes are:

  1. Increases the connection to the people and intimacy with the people because of more eye contact.
  2. Forces you to make a good outline, because “A good outline remembers itself”
  3. Forces you to tie the sermon to the text as closely as possible. This is because, according to the author, the text is your notes.
  4. You are more inclined to deal with the text in consideration before jumping all around to other texts.

Mead notes that this is the “why” of his preaching without notes, next he will give the “how” and I really look forward to that post.

At any rate, I think that his reasons for preaching without notes are fascinating. While his first point is a common one, I have not really thought of the other points.

The thought that it forces you to create a good outline, means that the sermon that is preached without notes, must have an internal connectivity that makes it easy to remember. I would guess creating such an outline will also make the sermon more memorable.

In addition, I really think that the connection of the sermon to the text is an interesting one. I really look forward to other posts as he explains what he means here. And the caution against jumping from text to text without adequately dealing with any of them is always a great caution.

The author has spent some thought on the “why,” and I look forward to the “how” of preaching without notes.

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Sherman Haywood Cox II

Sherman Haywood Cox II is the director of Soul Preaching. He holds the M.Div with an emphasis in Homiletics and a M.S. in Computer Science.

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