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A Week in the Life of an Extemporaneous Preacher

Preaching for the ear—orality—rather than for being read—literateness—requires not less preparation, but a much different method of preparation.

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Introduction by Dave McClellan: For years I've been studying the differences between oral and literary approaches to sermon preparation and delivery. In fact, I focused an entire dissertation on it. Even more formative for me than the theoretical study, though, has been the chance to develop an oral homiletic before the patient congregation that I serve. The weekly practice has evolved into a rhythm that feels normal now, even though it's miles from how I was originally taught to preach. I've seen an oral approach yield dividends in terms of better rapport, freedom, and passion in preaching.

Our church now has a young intern named Ben who wants to learn preaching, and it's been great fun to pull him into the process.

The following is what I might say to him to summarize my homiletical week—a literary account of an oral practice:


Considering that all our recent conversations on oral homiletics have been, well, oral, I thought perhaps it might help you if I put some things down on ...

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Displaying 1–2 of 2 comments

Douglas Quenzer

September 03, 2012  9:19pm

I have heard just about every philosophy of preaching there is. Stott says young preachers should write out sermons to get the precise wording down. Others say you shouldn't. I have a combination of writing things down and extemporaneous. The biggest factor is finding a style that works for you, and whatever style early preparation is the key. Don't wait until Friday to start.

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Leonard Maselli

September 05, 2011  9:58am

I like this approach and have used a form of it here and there. This will keep you very engaged with the audience in a converastional manner. My only suggestion would be that Dave would add in how the Holy Spirit guides him in his development and delivery of his sermons.

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