I preach from a manuscript. This is a practice which, I admit, springs from my own insecurity as much as it does from conviction. It is also a habit which has earned me some criticism from those who feel that the use of notes is a hinders the work of the spirit.
There are, of course, some good reasons for preaching without notes. You don’t have to shuffle paper. The church doesn’t have to buy a pulpit. People like it if you look at them when you preach. But the reason so many people are enamored of the idea of preaching without notes is a spiritual one. Many Christians share a common assumption that the Holy Spirit is somehow more active in extemporaneous speech than He is in planned speech.
This view pre–supposes that people who preach without notes or a manuscript are better able to sense the moving of the Holy Spirit. This is a puzzling assumption coming from people who also believe that the Scriptures, words that were committed to manuscript so long ago, are the chief means that the Holy Spirit uses to speak to us is.
For me, the use of a manuscript enables me to concentrate as much on the language of the sermon as its ideas. There are drawbacks, of course. My movement is restricted to some degree, as is my eye contact with the audience. The pulpit stands between me and my listeners. But I am willing to take the risk. I will continue to preach in this way without apology. I do not think the church is helped when the style in which the sermon is delivered becomes more important than what is said.