Chapter 6

Confessions of a Manuscript Preacher

I preach better when I semi-read a sermon.

I have a recurring nightmare. Having grown up in the Roman Catholic tradition, I'm kneeling in the dim light of the confessional booth. "Forgive me, father, for I have sinned."

The deep voice on the other side of the thin wall responds, "What sins do you wish to confess, my child?"

I'm startled. I know that voice. It's not the voice of my priest, but the daunting voice of my homiletics professor! I think to myself, I wonder if he knows. Feeling exposed, I go on and confess my sin: "Doctor, please forgive me. It's true. I do it. I do it every Sunday. I… I… I… preach from a manuscript!"

Okay, that's farfetched, but you get the point. Manuscript preaching isn't just marginalized, it's ridiculed. In most homiletics courses, preaching from a manuscript is considered a historic relic that's as useful today as an 8-track tape. If it's talked about at all, it's mentioned on a list of things never to do.

Experts ...

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