The Preacher and His Present Relationship to His Paper (Written material taken into the pulpit)
It is crucial that we identify the precise issue under discussion in this lecture.
1. Negatively stated
The issue is NOT how much written composition is done in the study, or how much written material is actually brought into the pulpit with the preacher.
In the previous unit of pastoral theology, I address the moot question concerning how much writing should be done at the level of our preparation in the study. Consult those lectures for a treatment of that issue.
2. Positively stated
The issue is how much dependence upon and preoccupation with written material is manifested in the act of preaching. To state the matter another way, the issue is how much mental and physical attachment is there to one’s paper. At the end of the day, we are NOT so much concerned with issues of paper and print, but with the issues of “eyes and brains.”
Any discussion of paper and the pulpit which does not isolate this precise issue is doomed to fail under the weight of its own inaccuracies or broad generalizations, or it’s unrealistic and legalistic rules and regulations.
A. Some general guidelines
1. Never read a full manuscript from the pulpit.
2. Aim at reducing the sermon to a one-page skeleton to be carried into the pulpit
3. Look at your paper only as much as it is absolutely necessary throughout the sermon.
4. Train yourself to look at your paper at those times which are least likely to break your living contact with the congregation.
a. When you have a natural pause. e.g. rhetorical question
b. When you have asked the congregation to turn to a passage of Scripture.
5. Place your paper in a position directly in line with the majority of the congregation’s faces.
ILL. A lawyer summing up his case for a jury
6. Labor continually to cultivate the skills of extemporaneous speech.
Remember the difference between “extemporaneous” and “impromptu”.
B. Practical counsels concerning the reading of quotations in your preaching.
1. Be sparse in your use of quoting.
2. Seek to have quotations copied before bringing them into the pulpit.
3. Master the contents of your quotations by frequent oral reading before using them in the pulpit.
4. Master the art of ellipsis
5. Drop archaic words