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Two Reasons to Preach From A Manuscript

The very strongest advice I can give, especially for a new preacher, is to write a manuscript of your sermon. Writing my sermons out word-for-word is the single most helpful habit I have formed as a preacher. There are two primary reasons that the manuscript is helpful for me.

First, writing my thoughts forces me to think through the very best way to communicate them. When I use an outline, I can capture an idea in a bullet point to remind me what I should say, but when it comes time to actually say it, I may or may not be able to articulate my ideas as well as I want. When I write out the idea, however, I am forced to consider the very best way to convey it. Writing sermons in manuscript form is my regular practice, and I find myself now repeating phrases verbatim that were first conceived on paper in preparation for a sermon.  These well thought out phrases become part of my daily speech and help me to articulate my thoughts on a particular subject in a logical manner without having to carefully choose my words as I am speaking.

The second reason I write sermons in manuscript is to capture them. Many preachers lose the usefulness of their studying by not capturing it in writing. As a pastor you may spend 8-12 hours or more per week in sermon preparation, jot down your notes in outline form or on a napkin, preach from it on Sunday, and then lose it so it can never be used again. When you write your teaching in a manuscript before presenting it, you have the luxury of sharing it with others as an article, blog post, or an email to a suffering church member. If you capture a series, it can be used in the future as a small group study guide or even a book. Have you ever wondered how well-known pastors have time to produce multiple books each year and still lead vibrant church ministries? It’s because they don’t waste their study, they capture it. Choose a system that works for you and force yourself to capture your study into a form that can be easily used in the future.


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