For a long time I would always bring a full manuscript with me to the pulpit. I would make notes in the margins, underline certain words or sentences and perhaps highlight main points. I was never happy with it. My wife strongly encouraged me to not use a manuscript but I knew my memory was not good enough to memorize the entire sermon.
How I moved from the manuscript
Then one day I was leading a funeral. It was a packed church. The grandson of the lady who had died did the eulogy and then he gathered his notes and sat down. Unfortunately in all his gathering, he also took my manuscript.
I had a decision to make. Would I ask the young man to come back to the pulpit and give me my manuscript back? Or would I just try to do it without? With a great big prayer, I went with the second option.
I preached that sermon and after the funeral, people in my congregation mentioned that it was better preaching than I usually did on Sundays. My wife was happy to hear what had happened.
Since that time, I have preached without notes a number of times but it is not my preference. I have also preached with a manuscript and that is not the best either. My preference is to use notes.
What I use now
This is what I do on a weekly basis. I write a full manuscript for my sermon. This helps me to organize my thoughts, gives me something to read over and I can publish the sermon on my blog or in some other format. But this manuscript never makes it to the pulpit.
What does make it to the pulpit is something called a mind map. On a piece of paper I write my main point and from that I draw lines to my main points and the sub points that go off from them. You can see what it looks like here.
It is hard to describe so I am including a video. I will say that I don’t use a mind map to create my sermon, although it sounds like a good idea. I also have not tried the software mentioned in the video, although I may try it.
I have found this way of creating notes to be the best for my preaching. What do you do?