Today at the Mullins lecture series luncheon, Dr. Patterson defended his view on preaching without notes.
I didn’t take notes, so I might have forgotten something; but his main arguments were:
1. It aids your ability to think on your feet.
2. It causes you to have to be in God’s presence, and truly internalize the message until it is like fire in your bones.
3. It gives you more freedom to leave the pulpit, etc.
4. It gives your sermon a sense of authority that does not come from reading a manuscript.
5. Another thing he said was that a preacher ought to be so saturated in the Scriptures, that he ought to be able to preach on any passage of Scripture at any time .
Now, I would guess that Dr. Patterson did not persuade many who were there, but I think we should not dismiss it out of hand. He has a point.
Consider Spurgeon’s words:
The most arduous and commendable plan [for preaching] is to store your mind with matter upon the subject of discourse, and then to deliver yourself with appropriate words which suggest themselves at the time. This is not extemporaneous preaching; the words are extemporal, as I think they always should be, but the thoughts are the result of research and study.
Now, this is not necessarily a “without notes” type of method for Spurgeon. However, the nugget is very similar to Patterson’s point(s).
I think that Patterson’s point might well help to counter-balance a stiff and lifeless preaching that has no sense of the Spirit of power. I myself will probably preach (as I have in the past) with notes still, but I also think we must take the issue of saturating ourselves in the text seriously.