Monday, September 13, 2010

Tales of a Country Parson, Vol. IV

So, yesterday was interesting.

One of the goals that I have set for myself on internship (we're supposed to "set goals") is to learn to preach without a manuscript.  I actually think that, in general, I'm more of an outline preacher.  When I read a manuscript, it feels fake, like I'm, well, reading the sermon, instead of delivering it or preaching it.  But I'm also a little concerned that without an outline or notes of some kind, that my verbose nature will take over, and I will wander far afield, jabbering away about whatever strikes my fancy at the time. 

Now, as of yesterday at 8 am, I didn't quite feel ready to walk away from the manuscript entirely.  Earlier in the week, I had consciously entertained the idea of an outline or even going completely free-form, but had decided against it.  And when I left Church #1, bulletins firmly in hand, I was giving no thought whatsoever to this particular goal.  However, about halfway to Church #2, I realized that the text of my sermon was laying nicely on the pulpit of Church #1.  At least, that's where I assumed it was, since it wasn't in my Bible, caught up in my own copy of the bulletin, or in my purse.  I searched each several times, and finally decided to spend the last few miles of the drive trying to remember what I had written. 

Because a bridge was out along the most convenient route, I had had to take a longer way to get to Church #2, and when I arrived there, it was past time to begin.  Fortunately, this church is very gracious and forgiving, and they understand that church doesn't start at 10:30, it starts when the pastor gets there (with the bulletins!).  So, while we started right away, I didn't even have time to scribble notes or an outline on the back of my bulletin.  I was totally winging it. 

And it seemed to go ~okay~.  There were some places where I could feel myself wandering, and I had to consciously work to reign it in.  There were some points I probably missed.  It wasn't as clear and tight as I would have liked.  But it sufficed.  No one came up to me and told me it was the worst sermon they'd ever heard.  And I've done it now.  It's not scary or impossible.  It's still not my preferred form of sermon delivery, but I can do it when I have to, and since it is a goal of mine, I have a starting place to work from.  Yay!


Tim said...

Way to go!!!

Brian said...

You could try a combination of both. Try writing out your sermon and memorizing it. It gives you the freedom of being able to "go elsewhere" in the sermon and also gives you the structure. I like to write my sermon word for word, though I rarely go word for word. While at times I read, I tend to know it well enough that I'm looking at the congregation more often then not. Having it down so well aslo gives you the plasure of knwoing where you want to go next so you don't end up rambling. :-)

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