A friend recently asked the question of whether or not it would be beneficial to share sermon notes in advance of the sermon or if doing that would be distracting. The only times I have ever given out notes to a sermon in advance is to our lady who does sign language. I talk pretty fast at times and it helps her see where I am going or catch up if she gets behind. So I am not sure how well it would work in a sermon unless it was an outline of the main points.
I do think there is benefit in giving out Bible class and small group lessons to people a few days in advance of the class. Recently I have been providing the small group lessons to the congregation in advance during our current series. I also gave out the Bible class notes to our 20s & 30s class in advance for the last three classes. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea at first but there were a few things that I thought might be beneficial.
- When you prepare a lesson you take at least a few hours to put it together, formulate your questions, pull together scriptures, come to your conclusions and then figure out how to communicate it. Then you hit people with some BIG questions that took you hours to wrestle with and expect them to get it and have a sufficient answer within seconds. This is especially true in class and groups. I find myself asking a question that I have thought about for a long time and then only allow them a few seconds to answer it. How can I expect them to come up with an answer faster than it took me to get it?
- When you give lessons out in advance people can come prepared. Too often we hit people with random topics and they aren’t ready to hear it, wrestle with it, etc. What results is people know they have to answer with something so they through out an opinion that may not be very well thought out or informed which leads others to throw their opinion in the ring. Now, this is not all bad and much good can come from it. Wouldn’t it be better if people had already thought about all this before they came?
- This makes people equals around the table rather, as those who have studied the same material and are ready to learn and grow.
- This disconnects the idea that a professional minister does all the work for you, presents it to you, you absorb it and go home. This involves and engages them in the study and makes them active participants.
I don’t really have an idea of how much benefit has come from this but I plan on doing it from time to time in the future, especially if the topic is a more difficult one.