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Top Twelve Reasons for Writing Out Your Sermon Manuscript

October 1, 2013

By Dr. Jim Cowman (guest blogger) mss1

  1. You can actually see, while you are writing, the progressive development of each part of the sermon and can alternately bolster each one to the highest quality, coherence and effect – regardless of the order of development.
  2. Any remaining weaker or missing elements will show up distinctly, crying out for corrective attention, in an otherwise completed manuscript.
  3. You can easily continue improving the sermon – long after initial delivery – by deletion or addition as you become aware of new or better information (e.g. proof-text, winning illustrations, clarifying background).
  4. The audience’s (or supervisor’s) response, as well as your own self-evaluation, can be incorporated into your delivered manuscript as a basis for continued growth in preaching.
  5. You can preach the sermon again – in the whole or in the part – in another venue without any loss of content.  Making multiple uses of your sermon manuscripts reduces preparation time and elevates the quality of your preaching.
  6. You can internalize (assimilate) the manuscript content by reading it a few times before you preach it so that the delivery can retain your written wording in an audience-focused presentation.  Note:  The detriments of being “manuscript bound” in delivery should not be confused with the benefits of manuscript preparation.
  7. You can assimilate the manuscript and reduce it to a half a page or one page outline that contains all of the essential elements that you will need to recall so that you can leave the manuscript behind and speak more extemporaneously.
  8. Your manuscript, with all its careful wording, serves to jog the memory in and out of the pulpit about how to best word the Bible’s teaching on that subject.
  9. You will have a record of illustrations you have already used so that you can avoid repeating them to the same audience.
  10. The finality and permanence of manuscripts encourages record keeping and calendar planning to avoid duplication and to treat “the whole counsel of God.”
  11. You may want to publish your sermon manuscripts someday.
  12. The length of your manuscript will give you a close approximation of how long it will take you to deliver it.

Rev. Dr. Jim Cowman holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. For the past 14 years he has served Lead Pastor at the Wyandotte Alliance Church in Wyandotte, Michigan. This past summer he was honored for his 27 years of service with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, having served in three C&MA churches, including a new church plant near Rugters University, (“Grace Alliance Church”). In addition to being an online adjunct Professor in Crown College’s Christian Ministry department, he has also served 12 years on the Ordaining Counsel of the Great Lakes District located in Ann Arbor, as well as the Ordaining Counsel of Bethesda Baptist Church in Allen Park, Michigan. He welcomes your emails/comments with regard to his article: “Top Twelve Reasons for Writing Out Your Sermon Manuscript”: jamescowman57@gmail.com

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