How do your notes shape your talk? (Comparing the notes of Bryson Smith, Steve Cree, Mike O’Connor, Mark Driscoll, Craig Tucker and Al Stewart)

This blog article by Josh Harris  got me thinking about the notes I preach from, and the way the style of the notes we preach from shape the style of our preaching. So I collated the manuscripts of some of the preachers I like listening to to see what they use. (Thanks to those preachers who provided me with a copy of their notes to share!)


Firstly here’s Craig Tucker’s manuscript.

Full text, word for word. He’s put  what look like important parts in a box, and in blue,  but most of the talk is in black.




Secondly, the talk below is from Bryson Smith.

Again, it’s full text.


These guys are two of the most precise and consistent preachers I know.  I think their manuscripts reflect this.


The next one is from Mike O’Connor. Again – full text. This is one of the clearest talk texts I’ve seen and it’s what I base my notes on. Words are bolded for emphasis. Bible verses in reverse print. Mike is one of the clearest preachers I know in terms of delivery – his emphasis of words and the tone of his voice all work together – his talk manuscript reflects this.




Now to the other extreme – Mark Driscoll – minimal notes!


(sourced from here)

Driscoll’s preaching style is also reflected in his manuscript. He’s more free in his preaching, his talks come alive with his stories and jokes, sometimes it feels like he’s taken you off on a tangent – he probably has, it  feels spontaneous.


Steve Cree’s preaching is similar.

His notes show a little more structure. There’s a color coding of some kind.

I would say  Mark Driscoll and  Steve Cree are more captivating to listen to in terms of delivery. They are great story tellers. But, both Steve and Mark can have their ‘bad days’, where the talk doesn’t work as well as it could, or moments where it rambles for a bit long on a point. So there’s an advantage (freedom of delivery) and disadvantage (possibly not as consistent) in not being word for word.


Finally Al Stewart’s notes are below.

I would have placed Al’s preaching more of the style of Bryson and Craig, yet his notes are more of an outline. Perhaps this is a function of the itinerant nature of his preaching and that he knows his talks better after giving them a few times?



The bottom line – it’s worth thinking about how your manuscript looks. It will dictate to some extent the style of your preaching.

I use full text – I find the full it helps me get a feel for the length and pace of the talk. I was pretty much just doing my sermons in one font, one size, one colour but it helped me when I  started laying out my sermons like Mike – I especially like the big black squares of bible text that help see see how closely I’m following the passage and make it easy to look up at the congregation without losing my place.

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