The Manuscript Maze (part two)February 9, 2007
Last Friday we began a new short series entitled “The Manuscript Maze.” For today’s Work Ethics, we’re going to ponder the pros and cons of using full notes. Obviously, this approach involves writing out the sermon word for word, followed by extensive reading of the manuscript or using it as a prop. Let me be up front and say that this is the method I currently use.
So what are some of the pros and cons of the full manuscript approach?
1. It often brings greater clarity of thought to the preacher. Though some preachers can think clearly and concretely without writing, for many this discipline converts their general ideas into a more definite form. You might say that ‘the writing becomes a way of thinking.’
2. It can help ensure careful expression. This is especially useful when something has to be phrased with precision. In this regard, it can prevent sloppy word choice or using certain words repititiously. We may not even notice that we use the same stock of words regularly, but seeing them on the page can flag up this problem .
3. It guarentees that no important aspects of content are missed out. This, of course, may happen if we are relying on a bare bones outline or just our memory. ‘Why didn’t I say that?!’
1. If used poorly, it can limit eye contact severely. (Although its a myth that every preacher with full notes necessarily reads their script).
2. It can lead to ‘speaking as we write.’ Those who take this approach must find a way to ‘write as they speak.’ Otherwise, using a full manuscript can create a wooden and unnatural feel to our preaching.
3. It usually takes more preparation time than putting together a bare bones outline and thus has an impact on time given to other pastoral matters.
4. It may, if used unswervingly, lead to a lack of spontaneity. In an extreme case, we may not able to react to a situation of the moment which should alter our approach to some degree.
Well these are some of the positives and negatives I thought of. Perhaps you can think of some more. Or, you might want to quibble with part of what I’ve said. What do you think of the full manuscript approach?