Some of the very best sermons are written word for word, carefully crafted for the ear, thoroughly memorized, and artfully delivered. On the other hand, if you want to drive people away with awful preaching, write in a literary style, memorize hastily, and deliver the result in the halting monotone that results from trying to remember something your hearers will have forgotten before they shake your hand.
So here are two important questions. Do you have the skill to write effectively for the ear? Do you have the 20 to 30 hours a week it takes to prepare and memorize a sermon for artful delivery?
So, if I try to prepare my sermons like the man who has both the skill and the time, the results are mind-numbing. If you have the skill but lack the time, read your sermons using a method similar to the one I describe here
. If you're like me, you should consider changing the way you prepare and deliver to a more extemporaneous style of speaking.
I'm not the first one to make this observation. Alcidamas, a fourth century rhetorician, wrote this in On the Sophists
"The truth is that speeches which have been laboriously worked out with elaborate diction (compositions more akin to poetry than prose) are deficient in spontaneity and truth, and, since they give the impression of a mechanical artificiality and labored insincerity, they inspire an audience with distrust and ill-will.
" (Emphasis mine).
This is hardly the result a Lutheran pastor is seeking.
You see the problem is that we fall in love with our words, but can't quite remember them. We end up sacrificing our audience to our desire for precision or quotability.
So here's another question. Can you speak from 30 seconds to a minute without heresy popping out of your mouth?
If so, planning what you will say, instead of how you will say it, will generally give better results.