A Cheater’s Guide to Preaching Without Notes

Preaching without notes

As a preacher, one of the most valuable tools that I find in preaching, is preaching without notes.  The idea of preaching without notes is one that I’ve loved whenever I’ve seen it done.  But the idea of doing it is quite frightening.  It is extremely nerve-wrecking to consider standing in front of a congregation without your trusty notes to guide you through.

As I’ve begun preaching regularly for our entire congregation, I’ve tried to make it a regular practice do preach without notes.


If I can’t remember what I’m talking about, how will the congregation be able to remember what I said?  Years ago, I listened to a preacher talking about communication and he suggested that giving a sermon should be like talking about your own family.  What he was suggesting is that a sermon should be something that is so deep within you that it doesn’t feel like your reading from a script or a page of notes.

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Reclaiming the Word Evangelical


The word “evangelical” gets a bad rap.  It’s used to describe political agendas, a style of worship, or perhaps even a backhanded way to call someone a fundamentalist, a legalist, or out-of-touch with our current world.  It’s ironic that a word which is derived from “Gospel” or “Good News” can so easily send people running.  If an “evangelical” is really one who clings to the message of Christ’s death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins, then evangelicals should be a group of people you’d like to be around.

But there’s a reason why Rob Bell when pressed about his identification with the word evangelical once  responded, “If An evangelical is somebody who, when they leave the room, you feel better because you heard the good news [from them], then yes.”  Because this is not what people typically think of when they think of the word evangelical.  And while I certainly don’t agree with Rob on a lot of issues, he accurately perceives that most people don’t think Good News and Evangelicals belong in the same sentence.

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How to Speak the Language of the Culture

Speaking the language

We are missionaries in our world.  We have been sent with the promise of the Gospel to our broken world and are called to go into our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces with the message of the Gospel.  When a missionary enters into a foreign country, he must become a student of that foreign culture.  The missionary must study the culture before he ever enters the country, he must learn their customs, their language, their dress, the people of influence, and even their social behaviors.

In missions what often happens for missionaries is that there is a level of excitement when entering the new culture that they have studied.  But then not long after the initial excitement about the new mission work, reality sets in.

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What are the best leadership books?


Leaders are learners.  And learning means listening to teachers, reading books and articles, and practicing new learnings.  As a ministry leader, one of the topics that I love to read about is the subject of leadership.  Because I love to read these types of books and think that other leaders should also be reading, here is a list of my favorite leadership books.  They are in no particular order, just 20 leadership books that came to mind.

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The Day I Became a Grunewald

officially a grunewald

In third grade I wrote a paper entitled, “Officially a Grunewald.”  And in the way that only a third grader could write, it recorded the events of a very important day in my life:

Last year on October 17, 1995, I missed a half day of school because I went to court.  When we were at home, my mom gave me a chain with a cross on it.  My brother, Corey, got a chain with a cross in the middle of a heart, and my sister, Molly, got a necklace that had a G in the middle of the heart because we became Grunewalds.

The judge asked my mom and dad a lot of questions.  While we were getting our picture taken, I banged the hammer the judge uses.  I got my picture taken with Corey, Molly and the judge.  Second, we got a picture taken with my mom, my dad, Corey, Molly, the judge and I.  The judge got to hold Molly every single time.

I officially became a Grunewald.  When we left we ate at the Clock. I had scrambled eggs.  Corey had Mickey Mouse pancakes, and Molly had French toast.

My mom brought me back to school after everyone finished eating.  Everyone asked me where I was.  I said, “At court.” The kids in my class asked, “Do you have to go to jail?”  I was proud the day my stepdad adopted me and I officially became a Grunewald.

On October 17, 1995, in a courthouse, not because of anything I had done and not because of anything my brother or sister had done, but solely because of the love of my dad, I was declared a Grunewald.  It had nothing to do with my decisions or behavior, but simply because my dad said before the judge, “I will love these children as my very own children,” everything changed.

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Preaching Law & Gospel: An Interview with Tullian Tchividjian


I recently got the chance to talk to one of my preaching heroes, Pastor Tullian Tchividjian.  Tullian is the Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida, the author of several books, runs a conference and ministry resource known as Liberate, and is the grandson of the famous Billy Graham.

Tullian is one of my preaching heroes because of the way he chooses to communicate the truth of scriptures.  And he does this in both his writing and his preaching.  Pastor Tullian Tchividjian basically always preaches the same message.  Week in and week out he faithfully proclaims the law, which kills, and the Gospel, which gives life.  Tullian doesn’t shy away from important, rich theological distinctions when preaching and writing, yet he does it in a way that is engaging.

Subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or directly download the mp3.

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The Vocations in a Family


Everybody has a vocation.  Vocation is a really just a fancy way of saying a “calling.”  Our vocations are the way that God works in the world serving the world through us as we fulfill our vocations.  And we all have these callings.  God serves our schools as teachers teach, principals lead, and as students obey.  God serves in our families as husbands love their wives, as wives love their husbands, and so on.  Our callings extend into our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our churches, and into our homes.

One of the fascinating things about family, however, is that it is the first place that we all experience calling.  Because we are all born into the vocation of a son or daughter.  Families are full of different callings – each of which have different unique characteristics, responsibilities, and value.

Note: This list is really simplified and meant to scratch the surface. We could spend a lot of time on each of these individual vocations, so if you feel like one doesn’t say all that it should… it probably doesn’t.  [Read more...]

How Not to Say Something Stupid


“Doesn’t she look great?”

Every now and then I hear something like this at a funeral and I can’t help but think to myself, “Umm…not really, she’s dead.”  And then immediately I scold myself for being so mean in my head and remind myself that the person was well-meaning.

Whenever somebody I care about is in a season of suffering, I find myself worried about what I am going to say.  I find myself second-guessing every statement in order to avoid saying something stupid in this moment of pain.  When I go into these situations, there are a couple of things that I need to constantly remind myself of, so I don’t overthink how I care for my friends and family in these moments.

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Prodigals, Pharisees, and Sons


Most of us don’t need to be convinced that we should pray.  Even the people who don’t believe in God, when faced with the worst of situations, often finds themselves in prayer to a god they don’t believe in.  The way we approach God matters  There are postures that we can take when we approach God that are appropriate in our relationship with Him.  And there are other postures that seek to make God more like a divine Genie or pair of designer jeans than a loving father.

When you pray, do you pray as a prodigal, a pharisee, or do you pray as a son or daughter?  [Read more...]

Sermon Series Ideas: 001

Sermon series

If you are in ministry and you teach regularly, chances are you are also consistently looking for sermon inspiration or freebies. As a ministry, we are regularly producing great content for our sermon series.  The creative process to developing these is one of the areas that I am most passionate.  I love working with our team as we brainstorm ideas and then helping move ideas forward into a finished product.

Feel free to use these ideas to inspire your own ideas.  The only thing we ask is that you don’t sell our original content as your own.  Also please note, that occasionally some of our series images heavily rely on stock images; in those cases I will let you know since you must purchase the original source image in order to have legal permission to use the image.  [Read more...]