My friend Rick wants me to blog this sort of thing more often, so here we go. From David Murray on learning to preach extemporaneously:
And listen to these strong words from Dabney:
Reading a manuscript to the people can never, with any justice, be termed preaching…. In the delivery of the sermon there can be no exception in favor of the mere reader. How can he whose eyes are fixed upon the paper before him, who performs the mechanical task of reciting the very words inscribed upon it, have the inflections, the emphasis, the look, the gesture, the flexibility, the fire, or oratorical actions? Mere reading, then, should be sternly banished from the pulpit, except in those rare cases in which the didactic purpose supersedes the rhetorical, and exact verbal accuracy is more essential than eloquence.
Shedd argued that young preachers should from the very beginning of their ministries preach at least one extemporaneous sermon every week. By this he did not mean preaching without study or preparation – quite the opposite. Extemporaneous sermons require more preparation in many ways. What he meant was reducing your sermon to a one-page of skeleton outline, and becoming so familiar with it, that referring to it during the act of preaching is minimized. Then, throughout your ministry, try to reduce the size of the skeleton, and dependence on it, more and more. Let the ideas be pre-arranged but leave exact expression of them to the moment of preaching.
Shedd gives these requirements for extemporaneous preaching:
- A heart glowing and beating with evangelical affections
- A methodical intellect – to organize the sermon material into a clear and logical structure
- The power of amplification – or the ability to expand upon a theme
- A precise and accurate mode of expression
- Patient and persevering practice
To these we might add, prayerful dependence upon the Holy Spirit for each and all of these requirements.
And then some steps toward preaching without notes: