Is it Profitable to Use Notes for Preaching?
Tony Roberts, Alabaster, AL – I do find using notes while preaching and teaching to be helpful. There are three reasons why I feel it is helpful to use notes. (1) A written outline assists me in organizing my thoughts and putting them into order. By having written notes, it is much easier for me to visualize on paper than on an electronic device. Also, written notes can begin as just thoughts, scriptures or sermon starters and be modified over time. (2) By writing the sermon outline and notes on paper, it gives me a chance to use two different senses to increase the chances of retaining the words. Reading and writing involve two of the five senses and the more senses involved, the more likelihood of retention. (3) Notes used in teaching and preaching provide a visual reference to keep the subject on track and moving smoothly. I do not simply read the notes verbatim but use them as an outline and guide. By having written notes, I can choose to use something or skip an item, depending on the moving of the Spirit or time restraints. I also like to convert the written notes to an electronic file that can then be used with an electronic device for ease of use while preaching or teaching the subject matter.
Tim Pedigo, Indianapolis, IN – I use a hybrid style of notes when teaching/preaching. I include a great deal of content (details, illustrations, etc.) so that I can return to the notes later and make sense of the information. However, the overall style is an outline in which the preaching points are in bold type, highlighted, or otherwise marked so that I am not tied to the notes. This bolded/highlighted outline is what I actually preach from.
Timothy Lee, Cape Girardeau, MO – Paul told Timothy to “study to show himself approved.” I believe it is only natural to take notes as you are studying and preparing to minister to people. For me, if I type out my notes, I am able to remember most everything that I feel like I am supposed to preach. So, when I am preaching, I really do not need to look at my notes hardly at all. I believe that using notes in preparation helps me to focus without rambling on about a subject. I like to be able to go back over message notes from several years ago in order to add to a subject that I am teaching or preaching on now. On occasion, I have been able to send notes to minister friends who were able to preach it to their church. With the added convenience of voice recognition software, it has become easy to speak notes into my iPad. This helps during times of prayer when the Lord gives direction of what to preach. I have found that using notes for preaching is very useful in a menagerie of ways.
TR Kelley, Oakdale, LA – I am an advocate of the use of notes. I use extensive notes when preaching and teaching, and I encourage young and new ministers with whom I am working to use notes. Notes keep the preacher focused on the subject, leaving little room for chasing rabbits down endless trails. Notes, especially extensive or even exhaustive notes, years down the road leave no questions as to what you were saying when preaching or teaching on a given subject or Scripture passage. When looking back over the notes of a sermon you believed worth revisiting and possibly preaching again later, especially one having a personal illustration written out in detail will be far better than simply seeing, “Kid at Walmart,” and not being able to recall the story. Even if a preacher chooses not to take notes to the pulpit, he or she should study and memorize sermon notes as much as possible, and I would recommend the use of a pretty decent outline should they choose not to take manuscript notes to the pulpit in order to stay on point.
Hurley, Leesburg, FL – When I was a young minister, taking notes to the pulpit was by and large frowned upon. The purpose for that mindset was to assure that the Apostolic ministry would never involve reading entire sermons without giving the Holy Ghost freedom to speak through us, thus creating dead, dry, boring sermons. Many people cannot read detailed notes in a conversational manner. However, as I have grown older and my mind has become more cluttered, I find that notes are almost a necessity and more accepted by the brethren. Although I know my Bible, our doctrine and my subjects completely, it’s easy for me to become distracted while delivering a message by people moving, temperature settings, sound issues, the many stories I have, so many experiences I love to re-live, etc. Although I do not read my sermons, I do refer to notes frequently. The best ones for me are in outline form, using bullet points. They allow me to stay focused, while giving me the liberty to speak freely as the Spirit moves. If I want to be relevant, deliver the message God has given me and stay within certain time restraints, notes help me do that, and my audience appreciates it.
Wayne Huntley, Garner, NC – Unless a person is highly gifted and has a most rare speaking ability, notes are a necessity to stay on message and not becoming discombobulated. If notes are prepared after prayer and fasting for a specific message, place and time, to use them is no less spiritual or Apostolic than to not have them. Preaching from notes prompts greater focus and concentration of thought, thus producing greater power in the presentation. Notice I said preaching from notes. We must never become prisoners to paper or prepared context to the exclusion of extemporaneous Spirit influence. Notes allow us the security to return to our original message after the Spirit-directed diversion. Anointed and appointed notes given under the influence of the Holy Ghost can assure the voice of the Spirit rather than circumstantial distraction or fleshly interference. I believe that holy men of God can write while being moved on by the Holy Ghost even as they can speak by being moved on by the Holy Ghost.