Do Whatever It Takes To Be Clear

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  • The scribble to my left are the preaching notes from my sermon this past Sunday.

    Typically, I write out a complete sermon manuscript for preaching. I usually do not have to bring any notes to the pulpit. But I am not neurotic about it. If I need the entire manuscript, I take it (having an iPad has made this easier for me). Or if I need an outline or specific notes, that is what I created.

    I do not really set the entire sermon to memory. I basically internalize it over the course of writing and editing the manuscript. But I do intentionally memorize the structure of the sermon. Not just the outline, the whole sermon. I memorize the message pretty much thought for thought, relying on key words.

    If I can remember this string of key words, I free pretty comfortable for preaching. If I am struggling to remember my series of word associations, I jot them down on an index card or sticky sheet to stick into my Bible.

    Sunday, after the first service, I wrote out an extended outline to the pulpit. I had already preached the sermon once. But there were several things I did not want to forget. So I wrote out the entire outline.

    I was almost finished with the sermon, when it dawned on me that I had never pulled the note page out of the front leaf of my Bible.

    I bring this up to remind you to do what you have to do to preach the word faithfully and clearly. “By any means necessary,” should be your strategy for pulpit preparation. If you need a full script, use it. If you need a little cheat sheet, take it. If you are at your best without any notes, do it. Do whatever it takes to preach the word faithfully and clearly.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.