Extemporaneous Preaching

A few months ago I made a major shift in my preaching style from using notes to preaching extemporaneously with a couple of sticky notes in my Bible. This has been a pretty big change for me, as it’s something that I’ve aspired to for a while but have never quite had the guts to try for myself. Now that I’m a few months into it, these are a few thoughts on my experience. None of these thoughts are meant to downgrade the value of preaching with notes in front of you, these are really just some thoughts on my experience.

1) I can sense a much greater level of freedom and engagement with my congregation when I preach extemporaneously. There’s something intangible about this, but for some reason extemporaneous preaching comes off as more authentic than using a manuscript (at least in my case). The feedback for this shift has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

2) I have never been more dependent on God in my whole life than I am in the  moments leading up to preaching. I used to be able to rely on my manuscript to help carry me through the sermon, but now I’ve got a couple of sticky notes in my Bible and that’s it! I think this is one of the best examples of what John Piper calls the “desperation and deliverance syndrome” that I’ve found in pastoral ministry.

3) It does make me a little bit nervous not to have a manuscript to file away for future reference or use. I think that keeping my own copies of the MP3’s of my sermons and filing all of my exegetical notes away will help with this.

4) Extemporaneous preaching does not mean preaching without a plan. While I don’t have a manuscript with me going into the pulpit, I do carry a very well thought out outline (on a sticky note in my Bible) with cues for sermon illustrations, important facts, etc.

5) Extemporaneous preaching takes more preparation, not less. I’ve found that my study time has become even more intense, than it was in the past primarily because of the desperation that I feel for the message. It’s not just that I need to read through and learn everything I can about the passage, it’s that I actually need to remember it and keep it all in my head.

6) Extemporaneous preaching gives a laser like focus to the sermon. It’s easy for me to range all over the place with a manuscripted sermon, because I can always just read the next paragraph and get back to where I was. Extemporaneous preaching, tends to keep me very focused on what’s in front of me.

Well, that’s been my experience so far with extemporaneous preaching. I may go back and forth to some degree, depending on the book that I’m preaching out of and how technical it becomes, but this experienced has absolutely convinced me of the value of this type of preaching and I’m sure that it will become the dominant style that I will use.

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October 03 2011 04:00 am | Blog

2 Responses to “Extemporaneous Preaching”

  1. mary crowder on 03 Oct 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    I appreciate this style.This is a gift from God..What a blessing. It allows your preaching to expose what God is laying on your heart instantly as you bring the message. I know another minister who uses this gift.It is very effective for sure. I do like hearing the invitation for the unsaved every week, as I’m praying for these lost souls:)
    Have a blessed day. Mary

  2. Bernie Andringa on 13 Oct 2011 at 6:29 pm #

    That is usually how I teach my college class, for 1 1/2 hours a day! I always review the material the night before, and again for about a 1/2 the morning before, and for the most part, it just rolls off my tongue. I also use many visual aids as well. I would have never seen myself doing that even 5 years ago.

    Psst, you’ll know you’re doing really good when your audience starts talking back at you! 🙂