When I prepare a sermon, I write a manuscript. That means writing out my whole sermon, sentence-by-sentence, in such a way that it could be picked up and read by anyone.
There’s three main benefits to doing things this way. First, it forces me to think through absolutely every part of my sermon, helping me to discover leaps of logic or “where did that come from?” moments. I’ve found it’s easy to scratch out an outline that looks good enough, only to discover in the manuscripting process that I’ve left huge gaps in the flow of thought that need to be filled in.
Second, it’s a safety net for those Sundays when I’m not in top shape. I’ve had to preach with the flu and a fever, or while otherwise being “out of it” physically, and if all I had on those weeks was an outline or some note cards (or worse, just my memory!), it would not be good for anybody involved.
The third main benefit for writing a manuscript is that it forces me to be ruthless with rabbit trails. Like many other preachers, I’m often tempted to try and fit the whole counsel of God into every single sermon. A manuscript allows me to step back and spot material that distracts from the message’s main flow of thought.
But the sad part about blocking off every rabbit trail is that not all rabbit trails are an evil. Many sub-points (or side-points) have to get axed because they would take too much attention away from the main point of the message, but in and of themselves they contain some really valuable truth. So the rabbit trails get removed, but now the rabbits have nowhere to run, and I finish writing many sermons with a whole group of them looking up at me with twitching noses and sad faces.
So, this blog. This will be a place for the rabbits to run: a place to paste some of the material I had to cut from my sermons each week. I hope to explore certain points in more depth, answer some questions more fully, and point to other resources that will hopefully help us all understand Sunday’s passage(s) better. Especially with our new series, where each sermon could be a series in its own right, I hope this blog will be a valuable supplement to our times together on Sunday morning.
If you have a question about anything I write here, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.