Nathan W. Bingham
Connecting in a Hyper-Connected World

Extemporaneous Preaching

I’ve previously mentioned an article R.C. Sproul contributed in The Preacher and Preaching: Reviving the Art in the Twentieth Century. What I didn’t mention was that in the same article he discussed the subject of extemporaneous preaching. It was around that same time that I listened to a lecture by Dr. John Carrick entitled The Extemporaneous Mode of Preaching. All of this, coupled with being challenged by my own pastor and my preaching lecturer, left me with some decisions to make in this regard. With a lot of prayer and a deep breath, I decided to move away from the safety of the fourteen-page manuscript I would normally take into the pulpit and instead I took only four.

As regular readers will know, extemporaneous preaching is just one of a number of areas related to preaching that has been on my mind over the past months.

Well, with that as a little bit of background, extemporaneous preaching has come up again. This time David Murray has re-posted an article originally written by his friend Jerrold Lewis, Pastor of Lacombe Free Reformed Church. You can read the article in its entirety here; however, here’s a short snippet:

I have found out recently that whenever you mention extemporaneous preaching to others, especially to others in the ministry, you are often met with some serious cautions such as, “Extemporaneous preaching lacks direction. It is less doctrinal. You will find yourself falling into the same rut, saying the same thing over and over”, etc. But what I have come to discover is many people confuse extemporaneous preaching with impromptu preaching. There is a big difference. Impromptu preaching is preaching on the spot, off the top of your head with no preparation, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide you. I am opposed to this practice as a model based on 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”. I think this is mysticism plain and simple. However extemporaneous preaching is not of this species, not at all.

So preacher, what has been your experience with full manuscript vs. full notes vs. less notes vs. nothing, in the pulpit? Is there a one size fits all, or must we each examine our own giftings and preach by the enabling of the Spirit as best we can?

Read all of Without Notes.