I haven’t referenced Peter Mead for quite some time. Peter is from Chippenham, UK and serves with Operation Mobilisation. He is a trainer and also is heavily involved in the preaching ministry of his local church.
In his post today he is reflecting on a statement by Fred Craddock. Craddock states that the preacher should be comfortable using (or at least competent with) notes, no notes or manuscript. All three. As I have noted before, manuscripts are important when the subject of the day is controversial. That is not the time for “winging” the best words. It also allows people to go back and read exactly what you said. Notes are often important in keeping us on track and orderly so that the listener can make sense of our message. Of course, no notes results in the most direct contact with the listener.
Craddock’s way of putting that is “you want to have maximum content, with a minimum loss of contact with the listener.“
One thing that Craddock noted, that I needed to hear is that manuscript / notes / no notes are not stages through which the preacher advances as he progresses in ability. You must gauge the method for the message and the audience. Peter states:
While no notes may generally be the preferred option, it is not a point of achievement to grab attention from listeners. It is a choice the preacher makes dependent on the message and the situation. Sometimes, as a generally no notes preacher, I will do well to use a full manuscript.
I deeply appreciate Craddock/Mead’s comments. When I began preaching, I used extensive notes. But an early mentor (unwisely) encouraged me to only preach with manuscript. That is what I did not most of my preaching career. It was only (as the long-time reader of this blog will remember) in my last years preaching at Tigard Christian Church that I really worked on preaching without notes all-together. I believe I DID see them as a progression. Today, I have pretty much settled into just using an outline.
The important principle, I believe however, is Maximum Contact/ Maximum Content: for this particular sermon, which style will enable me to deliver the most content while still maintaining the most contact with my listener.
You can find Peter’s post here.