We've released a new version of SermonCentral! Read the release notes here.
Preaching Articles

John Nunes recommends "reading" your sermon manuscript the way a great pianist "reads" music.

Rev. Nunes is the President and CEO of Lutheran World Relief and a Research fellow at the Acton Institute. He is also an assistant professor of theology at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. Pastor Nunes earned a Master of Theology from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He received a Master of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario and an honorary doctorate from Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is a pastor for Bethany Lutheran Church in Chicago. Pastor Nunes writes on private charity.

Browse All

Related Preaching Articles

Talk about it...

David Buffaloe

commented on Jul 30, 2012

Excellent presentation, and just as I try to do. God Bless!

Daniel Czaplewski

commented on Jul 30, 2012

I work from an outline because that is how my brain works. If I write it out, I don't feel the freedom to ad lib and I tend to get lost in the manuscript.

Spencer Miller

commented on Jul 30, 2012

I agree 100 with Rev. Nunes, if you preach with a manuscript it has to as if there is no manuscript involved. I try to memorize has much as possible in order to not become tied down to the manuscript. If anything I will at least memorize my introduction and pray that the Holy Spirit will lead all the way through remainder of my sermon.

Anthony Luckett

commented on Jul 30, 2012

I agree with Rev. Nunes. The preacher should know the manuscript well enough in order for the preaching to flow naturally. It should be more of a guide as opposed to it sounding like you are reading verbatim, one word at a time. Eye contact is important as well. If you study the manuscript you can go back and forth with eye contact. And always leave room for the Holy Spirit in case HE wants to take you away from the manuscript to bring forth an idea or important point that is not in the sermon.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Jul 30, 2012

Pass the Dramamine! Why are you rocking back and forth and jiggling all over the frame? Very distracting. Anyway, preaching is not a performance. I would have hoped that would go without saying.

Zachary Bartels

commented on Jul 30, 2012

Pass the Dramamine! Why are you rocking back and forth and jiggling all over the frame? Very distracting. Anyway, preaching is not a performance. I would have hoped that would go without saying.

Ginette Marie Dun-Robin C

commented on Jul 30, 2012

"For An Over-seerer must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict," (Titus 1:7-9) New King James Version (NKJV).

Edson Siwella

commented on Jul 30, 2012

". . . Perfomance!?" I have not even watched the video but the thought that come immidiately is "Aah Brother Americano. . .too much Hollywood mindset now! No preaching is NOT perfomance: it is presenting the Lord JESUS CHRIST!

Edson Siwella

commented on Jul 30, 2012

Now that I have watched the video . . . OK you did not get stuck to a manuscript. . . but you looked like a pianist proper. . .kind of watching the same spot in front of you. The preacher should be mobile multi-directional. . . moving his eyes from person to person in the congregation . . showing interest in them as was with the Lord. . . at times even taking one member of the audience (a child) in His hand to illustrate a point.

Jb Bryant

commented on Jul 30, 2012

@Edson Siwella - I have to admit that I'm put off by the word "performance," too. It feels wrong because the word is loaded with meaning that isn't part of its denotation - we especially load it with nuances of things like "fake," or "insincere," and maybe even "salesmanship." But we do perform in the most basic of meanings. We do something. And we spend many hours in prep so that we can perform the task God has put before us effectively - meaning in a way that minimizes the messenger, exalts God, and inspires positive growth in the hearers. If we didn't perform at some level, we wouldn't need preparation. Nor would we need the things you mentioned in your post. You wrote: "The preacher should be mobile multi-directional...moving his eyes from person to person in the congregation...showing interest in them as was with the Lord...at times even taking one member of the audience (a child) in His hand to illustrate a point." That is the sort of performance related advice one might get in any speech class. It is good advice, but it also shows that we do prepare to perform the way the church pianist prepares to perform on Sunday.

Eloy Gonzalez

commented on Jul 30, 2012

Great job, John... I've heard you preach and you certainly know how to bring the power of Law and Gospel to bear through your preaching dynamic. Thanks and richest blessings...

Kobus Storm

commented on Jul 30, 2012

So, Doctor, where did this use of performance "rhetoric" come from? Surely a small house church or an authentic loving Christian family were not in need of it? Does family even talk to each other like that? Or are we not a family anymore? This sounds very man made and not organic at all. Yes, there was preaching in the first church but it was for the use of evangelism not teaching. Teaching was done by family and never a one way conversation ever. 1 Cor.14:26. Even Jesus teachings was interrupted by questions and thus not a one way performance enhanced as to get people to listen or understand.

Norman Lorenzo

commented on Jul 30, 2012

i agree with rev. nunes... preaching is an art, indeed a performance. love and sincerity should be the ingredients of your performance... memorize your introduction and conclusion. then have a freedom to discuss sermon points.... for me this is the effective way to communicate in congregation

Derrick Tuper

commented on Jul 31, 2012

Good stuff. I am a manuscript preacher and it's true-we should be willing to deviate from the text. We also have to be careful to preach rather than just read. There has to be the passion there. We should do our best to familiarize ourselves with the text so we don't have to rely on every word from the paper. I used to worry about making sure I preached it word for word as I had written it but there are dangers of coming across too much like a lecturer rather than a preacher, along with losing your place when looking up and looking back down. That's another problem. We need to engage our audience but if we rely too much on the written text we are always looking down and reading. That's not good.

John E Miller

commented on Aug 1, 2012

This video was so convolluted and artificial that it left me cold. The reasoning was doubtful from the beginning. "Words do matter, God created the world with the word." This statement appears to equate our preaching with God's creatorial power. If the word was intended to begin with a capital, then it would refer to Jesus Christ as God the creator. If it refers to a statement in scripture such as Hebrews 11:3 or Psalm 33:9 it once again alludes to the infinite power of God's creatorial power expressed in a command that brought matter into existence and formed it into the created universe. In either case it bears no relation with the service of a humble servant of God seeking to lift up Jesus and simply be a tool used by God to draw the listeners to Christ. My fear is that many have a grossly exagerated view of their own importance. Scripture does not call us to put on a performance. It tells us that He must increase and we must decrease, in the words of John the Baptist.

Eloy Gonzalez

commented on Aug 1, 2012

@ John E. Miller: With all due respect, I believe that you are being neither fair nor directing yourself to what Rev. Nunes has said in this video. The point he is making with the statement that "words matter" is to indicate that that, "words matter"! In saying this, he did not equate - one to one - what the preacher does to God's creative power in the word, nor with the living Word, Christ Jesus. He said that "words matter" in order to support the notion that preparing a manuscript in advance is important. He indicated that he writes out every word thoughtfully and in advance, because, "words matter"! The point is not that the preacher is the most important element in the proclamation, but that "words matter" because God the Holy Spirit works through the proclamation of words, that is, the Law, to bring people to repentance. And "words matter" because God the Holy Spirit works through words, that is, through the Gospel, to bring people to salvation. So Rev. Nunes, the preacher * prepares * writes out his sermons in a manuscript * because, "words matter"! He tracks the manuscript as he preaches because the preparation of the words matters! He wants to communicate the points that God led him to in the sermon preparation, because - "words matter"!

Join the discussion