Manuscript Madness: Introduction to Manuscript Writing

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If you’ve ever preached a sermon, chances are you’ve created a manuscript. A manuscript refers to your sermon in written form. Some people love the practice. Others hate it. Some people swear by it. Others couldn’t care less. In this new blog series, Manuscript Madness, we’ll take a close look at the practice of manuscript writing.

To start off, let’s look at some initial thoughts on writing manuscripts:

(1) There are two sides to the equation.

When it comes to manuscript writing, there are two opposing camps on the issue: those who write full manuscripts and those who don’t. When I started out as a preacher, I wrote manuscripts for almost two years. For the past four years, however, I’ve gone without one. Most recently, I’ve begun experimenting again with manuscript writing to better observe its advantages. So you could say that I’m sympathetic to both sides of the equation.

(2) It’s a must for new preachers.

For preachers who are just starting out, I highly recommend writing full manuscripts. There are so many things that this practice can teach you and I guarantee that you’ll be missing out if you decide to skip it. I’ll showcase some of these advantages in the next article.

(3) You can take it with you.

Manuscript writing isn’t just for beginners. It’s an excellent practice even for those who’ve been preaching for years. I’ve met pastors who’ve been preaching for decades and still write full manuscripts for every single sermon. This is a practice that you can take with you even as you progress in your preaching abilities.

(4) It will take time and effort.

It’s called a discipline for a reason. You will need to spend hours coming up with a good sermon manuscript. But that shouldn’t trouble you at all. You already know that sermon preparation as a whole does take a lot of time and effort from you. So don’t disillusion yourself into thinking that manuscript writing will be a quick walk in the park. Also note that even if you choose to forego writing full manuscripts, you’ll still be spending countless hours on an alternative.

In the next article, we’ll look at some of the advantages of writing manuscripts.

Join the discussion: How has your experience been regarding manuscript writing? Are you comfortable with the practice?

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Next Article: Manuscript Madness: Advantages of Manuscript Writing | Series: Manuscript Madness

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2 thoughts on “Manuscript Madness: Introduction to Manuscript Writing

  1. I have always written full manuscripts. I’ve only been preaching for going on 7 years, so maybe I won’t at some point, but I still appreciate the discipline. It gives me the opportunity to formulate the flow of what I’m planning to say, helps me identify where I’m more likely to get off on rabbit trails so I can avoid them, and has just made me an all-around better communicator. It also have the manuscript with me at the pulpit….I don’t stay glued to it, but I do keep it with me. I am considering writing full manuscripts, but having just an outline to go from at the pulpit this year. I know…probably long overdue…..but I was raised in a church where sermons were never “prepared” and it was always shoot from the hip. I try to avoid that scenario at all costs…to an extreme, I guess….because it made the gospel presentation unclear and obscured. We had to follow the preacher down a million rabbit trails!

    • There are definitely plenty of advantages, Tim, for writing manuscripts and you’ve highlighted some of them here. I rarely like chasing down a million rabbit trails. It’s great for a movie but not for a sermon. Anything that helps you become a better communicator will ultimately benefit your audience. If you plan on not bringing your manuscript to the pulpit, I suggest you take it a step at a time. You might begin by bringing your manuscript to the pulpit but cut out the illustrations. This will allow you to slowly adjust to being manuscript-less. Then eliminate more parts of the manuscript as you get more comfortable.

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