Every week when I was a pastor, I did what I called walking my sermons. Although this depends on the Biblical foundations I wrote about last week, I believe it is the most valuable advice I can give preachers.
The sermon is an oral event. It is what Marshall McLuhan called a hot medium of communication. I would argue that you should not write out a sermon, and then try to memorize it, trying to translate from writing, a cool medium, to the heat.
After I had read my text aloud many times, some before a mirror, and worded my points, I was ready to compose my sermon. I would literally go outside and walk, rain, snow, or shine. As I walked I would preach over everything that came to mind about each point. Several times over the years I had deacons or leadership kid me about this practice. But they admitted they liked the results. As far as I know, others in the church didn't know about it. In fact, I think people thought my sermons just came to me out of the blue, and they were made uncomfortable, when I talked about the process.
Although I was doing this long before I had heard about Prayer-Walking, what I did was similar. One big difference came when I saw people. In Prayer-Walking I would walk toward people praying for them as I drew near. In walking my sermons I usually prayed briefly for people I saw. But I would walk the other direction. God has called some of you to large enough cities that avoiding people is impossible. But there, they will ignore you, if you are not too loud or acrobatic.
As I walked, I would preach everything that came into my mind on each point. I would sometimes preach up to an hour on a point, although it usually didn't take so long to preach a single point. You might think that would make my sermons too long. But it had the opposite effect. I would automatically know what fit the sermon, and what did not. I held the conviction that if I could say the same thing in less time, I had said it better. Brevity is force.
Preaching everything that came to mind also seemed to add a depth to what I preached. It settled a broader understanding in my mind.
After I had preached the entire sermon over, I would usually know how to frame my introduction in a way that would grip the attention of my people, and lead into the rest of the sermon. My introduction usually came from something I knew connected with the entire sermon. And at least for my Sunday morning sermon, I would preach the shortened version over at least one more time.
But what about notes? First, notes are a cooling factor in your sermon. Worse, if you stumble, it is often over your notes. I would mark scriptures in my Bible that I would rather read than quote. And on rare occasions I would take quotations into the pulpit. With this method you only need to go into the pulpit with your introduction and points in mind. Your illustrations and applications will simply come as ways of making each point.
Some of you, possibly very few of you these days, may know that I regularly published sermon material in PROCLAIM and other magazines over the years. But I did not write out sermons, or even illustrations, until I had preached them to my people. In this way I hoped to keep the fire of the sermon as I translated into print.
So, will this method work for you? I am convinced that it will. But you will not know if you can do this until you have tried. If you have difficulty, you can contact me, email@example.com. I will check this account at least once a week. If you wish to talk to me, I will give you contact information.
However you do it, Preach The Word!