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Preparing to preach is not writing a speech.

Preaching without notes is currently getting lots of attention. But it's not a new topic. Most issues that seem revolutionary in a given historical moment most likely surfaced in previous ages as well. Recent books written or reprinted on the issue include Preaching Without Notes by Clarence Macartney (Wipf & Stock, 2008); Without a Net: Preaching in the Paperless Pulpit by William Shepherd (CSS, 2004); Preaching on Your Feet by Fred Lybrand (Baker, 2008); and How to Preach Without Notes by Charles Koller (Baker, 2007).

It has been the subject of papers at the annual meetings of the Evangelical Homiletics Society. Since I presented one of those papers, and since I've virtually abandoned using notes in my own weekly preaching, it would seem safe to assume that I favor the practice. But as I thought about it, preaching without notes isn't really the point.

First, some background. In 1855 Cardinal Newman weighed in on the issue. He called it preaching "with book" or ...

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