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I know some people like to write out their sermons word for word. It is said the Johnathan Edwards, read his great sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" word for word by lamp/candle light and never looked at the audience.

I seem to find it easier to preach from an outline rather than a written out sermon. Which do you use and what do you think the advantages are?

Do you preach other men's sermons but adapt them to you and the time?

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Being trained as a newspaper reporter and becoming a speechwriter while in the Navy, I tend to write my sermons out completely. And I do a lot of self-editing. It's the way I think, and I feel more comfortable with it. But I don't read my sermons when I preach them, because I write them as I would preach them.

Does that make any sense?

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Most of my outlines end up in paragraph form...but, I don't read them word for word...and, regrettably I would say I never cover every point.

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Our pastors write their sermons out but they don't read from them. They have an outline with them when they preach but not the written out sermon. This is why sometimes their written sermon can vary anywhere from a little to a lot from their actual preached sermon. Sometimes the Holy Ghost leads them very differently from the actual written sermon.

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Mine are half outline and half written out. I think I am the only one that can understand it when looking at it. Of course, sometimes I think I am the only one that could understand what I am saying too.

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Written out, pretty much. I also completely write out my verses in place of only the reference, that way I can ask folks to turn there or, (as time limits or constrains) I can simply read it and continue to move forward and not spend a lot of time waiting for the congregation to find the verse.

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I mostly use outlines, but once when I was preaching on forgiveness I just printed my article out and used it for my notes. I didn't read it, but I actually used the article as my notes.

I think the advantage to a written-out message is that it can be very eloquent and deep, and if it's read with a good cadence it can be very powerful. I've never done it, but I've seen it done in short messages and it was riviting.

Edited by Rick Schworer

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Mine are half outline and half written out. I think I am the only one that can understand it when looking at it. Of course, sometimes I think I am the only one that could understand what I am saying too.


Ha-ha!

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Outline, that gives me the liberty to add things that come to me while preaching. I avoid rabbit trails and I do write out scripture references for time, but the outline seems to give the Holy Ghost room to work as I preach. There are time my wife will say something like "I really like what you said about...." then I reply, "I don't remember saying that" lol - The Lord at work I suppose.
Anyway, that's just how I do it, right or wrong or indifferent :)

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I know some people like to write out their sermons word for word. It is said the Johnathan Edwards, read his great sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" word for word by lamp/candle light and never looked at the audience.

I seem to find it easier to preach from an outline rather than a written out sermon. Which do you use and what do you think the advantages are?

Do you preach other men's sermons but adapt them to you and the time?


1. Due to my Bible being in 18 volumes, it's easier for me (in the long run) to outline my messages. My points are always at the beginning of a line, with the scriptures for said point written out after & indented two spaces on however many lines are needed to complete that point. That way, if/when I get in a hurry & need to see what my points are, or go to the next one, all I have to do is look at the beginning of lines!
2. There are times I use other men's outlines or thoughts, but I let the LORD (in the words of Evangelist Larry Raynes) "put the meat on the bones!"

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Most of my outlines end up in paragraph form...but, I don't read them word for word...and, regrettably I would say I never cover every point.


Dave, I know what you mean, about not covering every point. I either write a scripture or definition down (or more commonly,) I "was gonna say somethin'" & completely forget it!

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Our pastors write their sermons out but they don't read from them. They have an outline with them when they preach but not the written out sermon. This is why sometimes their written sermon can vary anywhere from a little to a lot from their actual preached sermon. Sometimes the Holy Ghost leads them very differently from the actual written sermon.


If He leads them away from how it's written out, it probably wasn't His will for them to write it out that way, in the first place.

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If He leads them away from how it's written out, it probably wasn't His will for them to write it out that way, in the first place.

That's possible, but I think most often it's a matter of things having changed between the time the sermon was written and when it's preached. I'm thankful they pay heed to the Spirit rather than doing as some pastors who will read straight from their written sermon no matter what. I remember as a youth there was a Methodist pastor in town who used to do that and he read those sermons in monotone, hardly ever even looked up, and it was always a wonder anyone managed to stay awake.

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That's possible, but I think most often it's a matter of things having changed between the time the sermon was written and when it's preached. I'm thankful they pay heed to the Spirit rather than doing as some pastors who will read straight from their written sermon no matter what. I remember as a youth there was a Methodist pastor in town who used to do that and he read those sermons in monotone, hardly ever even looked up, and it was always a wonder anyone managed to stay awake.


On your first statement, amen & on your second, wow.

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1. Due to my Bible being in 18 volumes, it's easier for me (in the long run) to outline my messages. My points are always at the beginning of a line, with the scriptures for said point written out after & indented two spaces on however many lines are needed to complete that point. That way, if/when I get in a hurry & need to see what my points are, or go to the next one, all I have to do is look at the beginning of lines!
2. There are times I use other men's outlines or thoughts, but I let the LORD (in the words of Evangelist Larry Raynes) "put the meat on the bones!"


Someone said I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter.
I think we all use other mens' thoughts or outlines at times.

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Someone said I milk a lot of cows, but I churn my own butter.
I think we all use other mens' thoughts or outlines at times.

Our pastor writes his rough draft and then he will sometimes check to see what a commentary or another preacher has said regarding the passage or a particular verse. After this, he may quote something from them or even flesh something out a bit differently. It's all part of the process.

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These are all great comments and i see that everyone seem to agree that it is what works best for an individual as long as the Holy Spirit can work as He desires. I think it was Spurgeon that told his students that they need to be so open to the Holy Spirit that even as they step into the pulpit He should be able to change their message to what He desires.

What about extemporaneous preaching?

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I love doing it extemporaneously, but as I age I find those more senior moments coming more frequently. :) So I starting putting all my notes on a 3 X 5. Then my eyes started getting weaker, so I moved to a sheet of paper. Then I think dyslexikia and missspelinging affected me, so printed them out on the computer with spell check in use. By that time, I had to print it out in larger bold print.
Whatever works for each person. I think the key is adaptability. I do the best I can and leave it to God to do the rest.

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W.A. Criswell wrote an excellent book several yrs ago entitled "Why I Preach without Notes". He was preaching 5-7 messages per week at the time. His main thrust was that if you are not familiar enough with your message to do that, you're not familiar enough with your message.

Rufus Bryant instructed many of us (many yrs ago) that if you are going to teach on a book (of the Bible), character or subject; read the material at least 7 times before picking up your pen. Be acquainted with the text before attempting to avoid putting your foot in your mouth (my words, not his).

I'm afraid we have let our microwave society affect us.

Edited by OLD fashioned

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W.A. Criswell wrote an excellent book several yrs ago entitled "Why I Preach without Notes". He was preaching 5-7 messages per week at the time. His main thrust was that if you are not familiar enough with your message to do that, you're not familiar enough with your message.

Rufus Bryant instructed many of us (many yrs ago) that if you are going to teach on a book (of the Bible), character or subject; read the material at least 7 times before picking up your pen. Be acquainted with the text before attempting to avoid putting your foot in your mouth (my words, not his).

I'm afraid we have let our microwave society affect us.

Both of our pastors have talked about that "7 times" aspect before. I know they spend time reading and rereading, in prayer and in writing. Once they have their rough draft written, if they feel led to, they will then consult what some others have said on a particular verse or passage. Then they touch up their sermon, each pastor reads and gives feedback, then more prayer and the finishing touches.

Of course once it comes time to preach, they leave room for the Spirit to do things different.

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Both of our pastors have talked about that "7 times" aspect before. I know they spend time reading and rereading, in prayer and in writing. Once they have their rough draft written, if they feel led to, they will then consult what some others have said on a particular verse or passage. Then they touch up their sermon, each pastor reads and gives feedback, then more prayer and the finishing touches.

Of course once it comes time to preach, they leave room for the Spirit to do things different.


Amen and Amen

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