Models of using Full-Text Notes for Sermons

I was going to try and write some thing on different manuscript models, but I realised I only really know about full text manuscripts. Many people love to bag the full-text sermon notes. There are actually a few ways they can be used:

  • Recitation. The classic model where the sermon you write is the exact sermon you deliver. If you know how to write for speech and can develop your skill in delivery-from-text, this can work. You need to learn the skills involved and give yourself 30-40 sermons to get it right.
  • Fall back insurance. The writing of the full text manuscript has allowed you to in effect absorb and memorise it, you don’t really need the notes but they are there just in case you get lost.
  • Key execution points. In preparation you have meditated deeply over specific phrases or paragraphs of exhortation. You may not follow your notes much at all except for when you come to these critical junctures. My impression is that Piper does this well.
  • Faithfulness check. It is hard to know when you have done “enough” preparation. Getting to a point where you have a pretty solid manuscript is a milestone that allows you to relax, pray and jump on the trampoline with your kids. Upon delivery you may end up giving a live 2nd draft of the message.

My other advice for full text is, use a 14 point font size and lots of indentation to mark major and minor sections. White space is important in having a manuscript that is easily readable and usable.

There is also a discipline in reviewing the full text against what you actually said. Sometimes I do this against the mp3 after the event. Sometimes I do this immediately  between services, as there was something catchy that just came out that I want to remember to say again in the next service that morning.

Full-texters unite!

2 thoughts on “Models of using Full-Text Notes for Sermons”

  1. Hi Wayne,

    This is actually “Luke’s wife” (TM) posting here.

    In the past I did quite a few talks for women ( not for years now) and I preferred to follow the full-text model. I agree with your reasons ( not that I have done 30-40 sermons, more like three!) and found it a really good model personally. Another excellent thing about having full-text is the useful application of giving it to people with language difficulties in the congregation. When I was running a Korean bible study last year, the times when the preacher could give us full-text meant that they could do the bible study of the passage, then follow the sermon on paper while it was being preached. Then they could take it home and follow-up any words they didn’t understand.

  2. Thanks Amy!

    That is a good point about giving copies away – often people ask for a copy, for the language reason you gave or just because they want to think about it more. When you have full-text you can give them a true copy. It’s even happened to me at funerals.

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