Let’s be clear.
The best method to preach is without notes. Everyone knows that. But if you must use notes, I believe there are some ways which are better than others. Let me say something else here at the beginning. Is this really the best method out there? The best method is the one that works really well for you.
To begin with, let’s review some of the more popular ways that people preach with notes:
1. A full manuscript
With this method, the preacher fully writes out everything he/she will say. The manuscript might be in a binder or a loose stack of paper. I’ve found that it’s extremely hard to preach well with a manuscript in front of you. The biggest temptations for preachers I’ve coached is to read from the manuscript instead of occasionally taking a peek to see what’s coming next.
I will say that Pastor Dwight Nelson, my senior pastor, uses a manuscript extremely well. Out of anyone I’ve seen that uses a manuscript, he’s the best. He uses a lot of quotations in each message, so this is an effective method for him. He’s not attached to the manuscript and internalizes the message really well. But I would discourage this method for 99% of speakers out there. The vast majority just cannot do it well because they’re tempted to stay behind the pulpit or to read the manuscript.