Earlier this year I started posting photos of some of my "sermon sketches" on twitter. These are a more graphic breakdown of my sermon notes that help cement my outline in my head. This has led to a number of people asking about my method of preparation and if I preach from those sketches. Concerning my notes - I do not preach from the sermon sketch. What I take up with me when I preach is a small sheet of paper, just smaller than half a sheet of printer paper, tucked into my Bible. On that sheet is an outline including sections, main points, subpoints and Scripture references.
While I do a lot of research on my computer, most of my sermon preparation winds up in Moleskine journals. I like using just one sheet and an outline when preaching for three simple reasons.
1. Organization Using one sheet and an outline keeps me on point, and helps me remember important things I might forget or lose track of in the midst of preaching. This actually happened yesterday and my notes got me back on track.
2. Freedom Using one sheet and an outline frees me from both the page and the pulpit. I know where I'm going, and how I'm getting there, but I'm not tied down to a manuscript or a multipage document. It also frees me from needing a pulpit or podium. I can't remember the last time I used one at our worship gatherings.
3. It works This is the most important thing. I do it this way because it works. I've been preaching since 1994, and have used different approaches over the years. Right now, this is what works best for me.
Below is a shot of my sermon notes from this past Sunday. It's two columns of notes, and I use different highlighters to make main points, key statements and Scripture references easy to find. How does that piece of paper stay in my Bible? I use some kind of removable tape our ministry assistant buys for me. I have no idea what brand.
By the way, back in 2008 Josh Harris did a very interesting series of posts covering the preaching notes of well known preachers/pastors. He covers Mark Dever, Mike Bullmore, C.J. Mahaney, Ray Ortlund, Jr., Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, and himself. The formatting seems to be broken on some of those pages, but the PDFs all work.
Feel free to share your method in the comments.