Over the last 10 years of speaking on a regular basis, my preaching has evolved and changed as I’ve grown and the people I speak to changes. When I started out, I would write an entire manuscript, put passages into the manuscript, go up front and speak it word for word. It was sometimes over 20 pages long. Looking back, it was quite painful. In fact, somewhere in my parents basement is a video of me preaching as a sophomore in college (this will never see the light of day).
Lybrand starts the book with the importance of preaching and why it matters:
I think the heart of the issue for vibrancy or shallowness in Christianity is the pulpit. It has been a special characteristic of Christianity, and historically consistent, that strong pulpits lead to strong churches, weak pulpits to weak churches.
While it is obvious from the title what this book is about, one of the things I appreciated was the emphasis on preparation and being prepared when you preach. Too many books or articles about preaching without notes makes it sound like, you just need to get up front and hope that God speaks to you. This is irresponsible and problematic. It is also lazy, which God does not honor.
The preparation aspect to preaching on your feet is incredibly important so that you are so prepared, “saturated” is the word Lybrand uses, so that when you get up to preach, it just flows out. You are bubbling over and you have to preach what is on your heart.
I think too often, I get up and have too much to say. While I have my main point, I can often say too much to make my point. Preaching on your feet allows you to be more in the moment, more in tune with what God is doing in the room and how your church is responding. It allows you to be more present and be able to stop when you feel like you need to stop. Some weeks will be longer than others, depending on what God has in mind.
Preaching on your feet, as described by Lybrand puts more emphasis on the spiritual walk of the preacher, which is often lost on books about preaching. Most books focus on techniques, the ins and outs (which are important), but equally, if not more important, is the spiritual walk, the connection a preacher has with God and how that overflows and connects to what God is doing in that moment in the church.
One of the things I appreciated was the historical aspects of preaching and how it has been done throughout church history. To look at how God has moved through preachers in history is a great way to understand better how God likes to work within a culture and time.
Definitely worth reading, regardless of how you preach. It will push you to get better and think through why you preach and prepare the way that you do, which is always helpful.