- What is happening this week for which you need to be prepared?
- What is happening in the next month for which you need to be prepared?
- Who do you need to contact this week?
Pastors, ask yourself or have an assistant ask you these questions as you start the week. I have found them helpful to be better prepared and less forgetful.
What keeps you organized and prepared?
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By Ryan Strother — 2 months ago
Higher-impact vocabulary and illustrations.
When you take time to write everything out, you can more carefully craft your words for greater impact than if you get up there with some main ideas from bullet points.
RG Lee, long-time pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, was known as a master orator and wordsmith. For example, his famous “Payday Someday” sermon included the line, “I introduce to you Ahab, the vile human toad who squatted upon the throne of his nation.”
The same goes for illustrations–manuscripting forces you to take time to think through every part of the sermon, even the illustrations. I know some preachers who are skilled at giving illustrations off the cuff, but I tend to think through mine beforehand if they are actually going to help people connect the doctrinal truth to the illustration.
People might better remember those well-crafted lines and thoughtful illustrations, which hopefully leads to better memory of the meaning of the passage being preached.
Reduces the likelihood of Speaking Tics.
I used to create a bulleted outline with main points and then sub-bullets. But when time comes to actually preach, if you haven’t thought through all of your words, then you’re more likely to let out those tics. Mine were uh and right?. Listening to my sermon recordings and manuscripting helped fix that (I’m not perfect but its better!).
Creates smoother transitions between points.
Similar to higher-impact vocabulary, manuscripting makes transitions between main points smoother and easier for the listener to distinguish. I remember listening to sermons growing up and then wondering what did he just preach? Some of that is the listener’s fault, but sometimes it is the preacher’s fault for not giving clear navigation throughout the sermon. Manuscripting forces you to think through the introduction and conclusion to make them effective.
When I was using bulleted lists, I didn’t focus well on the intro or conclusion. I would just sometimes start by saying, we’re looking at Matthew 12:1-6 today so turn there and let’s go. Yikes! Thankfully, far better ways of introducing a sermon exist.
Allows the message to marinate longer to increase effective delivery.
In a normal week, I’ve got the manuscript for Sunday finished by Thursday, which allows for plenty of time to be thinking on it. I don’t memorize manuscripts and just read them, but manuscripting allows it to be pretty well ingrained in my brain by Sunday.
One Sunday morning, I placed my iPad (I use to display my manuscript) down and another church leader placed his stuff on mine. He had a similar looking device and accidentally took my iPad. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have it until I got up to preach and it was too late to get it. But the sermon content had marinated enough by then that I knew where I was going and I trusted the Holy Spirit to do his work.
Ease of Reference for Future Study.
I am able to look back quickly on how I handled a certain verse or when I used that illustration. I nearly treat it like writing a paper in that I usually put citations in my manuscripts so I can see where I got a definition or a quote. It is also nice to be able to pull up a manuscript in short notice to preach if needed. Maybe you’re filling in for somewhere who got sick at the last minute or you’re on a mission trip and the unexpected opportunity comes. You can quickly pull up a manuscript from a previous sermon, review it, and preach away!
How have you found manuscripting beneficial?Post Views: 226
By Ryan Strother — 1 year ago
The only tool like Sermonary that I’m aware of is the Logos Sermon Editor in Logos 7. Sermonary’s Kickstarter campaign was funded so quickly, proving there is a need for something better than Word for preachers to type out sermons.
I backed Sermonary and have been able to play with it for several weeks, and I have been using the Logos Sermon Editor tool for a while now. So, I took notes as I used them side by side and am sharing them here to help other preachers determine what could be helpful for them. Keep in mind that I’m just a simple preacher and do not understand all the technical details of a software platform.
I’ve organized this review into 3 categories: Accessibility, Writing, and Additional Resources.
- PRO: Can edit and access everything from any device.
- CON: Being web-based only has limitations. When they are in maintenance mode on the website, I can’t access my content. And that was VERY inconvenient, especially for a pastor who has a tight schedule with specific times carved out for specific tasks.
- PRO: Not web-based, so you can access it on your computer even without internet connection. Still, everything syncs across devices.
- CON: Cannot edit on every device. Editing is only possible on the computer. You can view your sermon on every device, but not edit.
Both programs store files on their servers, not taking up space on your computer.
- PRO: The templates, called Block Editor (already existing templates and you can create your own), are excellent for helping write well. You will be sure to include transitions and other important elements that are easy to overlook on a Word document. If the block editor is restrictive for you or you just don’t like it, you can choose to use the Standard Editor, which is just like a Word document. You can still include headers, and you have all the same formatting options.
- CON: If you change the editor from Block to Standard on the same sermon after you have content typed in, the content does not transfer. The content seems to only stay in the editor mode where you originally typed.
- PRO: The sermon ideas section is a nice feature. Sure, you could set up an Evernote notebook for this purpose, or possibly even a note within Logos, but it is nice to have everything in one place.
- PRO: You can indent bullets and regular paragraphs at different levels. Sermonary does not offer this feature. You can use bullets but only at one level.
- PRO: Speaker Notes. I use these every week. I like to give illustrations a blue background color, and notes to self (“Read the passage here…”) a red background color. There are many options here for what you need. However, Sermonary naturally separates all of these elements out and even lets you choose to hide certain elements during podium mode. Sermonary does not, however, include as many options as Logos for this task of speaker notes. Sermonary just added the feature to highlight and change text color, but it does not offer saved formats with background colors or other options.
- CON: The spell check feature just does not seem to work right. I’ve never been impressed with it. Whereas, Sermonary uses Grammarly or other spell checking programs in your browser.
- CON: Cannot use voice dictation. I’ve had to use my phone’s Notes app, which syncs with the laptop immediately, then copy and paste to Logos. It’s almost not worth it.
Both use different header styles and your basic word processing tools (bold, italic, etc.).
Logos Sermon Editor is connected to your Logos library, which can be massive. Another nice feature in Logos is that your sermons will appear in your searches. You might have forgotten that you preached on a certain topic, but your search will show it and will help you remember how you handled a certain text in the past.
Sermonary probably isn’t designed to be like Logos in this regard, but its resources are very useful for making writing easier and better. Being able to include illustrations and commentary is valuable. Some illustrations can be added to your library for free, and you can purchase resources from Sermonary (I don’t believe any are included in the subscription).
One major limitation of Sermonary in this category is being able to quickly insert Bible verses. Logos has the copy Bible verses tool with many options for exporting a verse or passage. Hopefully, preachers are inserting Scripture into their sermons!
If you don’t own Logos 7 with the sermon editor tool, then Sermonary is definitely worth subscribing to. Nothing else like it exists. You’ll be better organized in writing your sermons, have access to some resources if you choose, and have a great “live preaching” tool with your device (although if you can’t rely on internet service while preaching, I’m not sure I would risk Sermonary since it is web-based).
If you already have Logos 7, then stick with it. While Sermonary has nice features, there is nothing there outside of podium mode that warrants a complete switch over.
Whatever you use to write sermons, preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2)!
What do you use for sermon writing? Share your tips below.Post Views: 1,150
By Ryan Strother — 12 months ago
Pastor, you should be interacting with church members, attenders, and guests frequently since you are their shepherd. Shepherding comes in many forms: hospital visits, “checking in” phone calls, home visits, meetings in the office, texts and Facebook messages, lunches, coffee meetings, and others.
My question: do you record those interactions?
My encouragement: do it!
Why Record Shepherding Interactions?
- You will learn details about someone or their situation that will help you minister in the future to that person. It’s easy to forget unless you record it somewhere.
- In a more negative sense, you have a record in case you are ever challenged. Someone complains that you never visited with them–what do you do? Unless you have a record, it is your word against theirs and probably will not build much unity as you flesh it out. If you have a record, you can either say, actually, I did, or you can honestly say, you’re right, I didn’t. And then minister to that person accordingly.
How To Record Shepherding Interactions
I have found AirTable to be very helpful for this task and many others (maybe I’ll write about those later). If you have never used it, it is a web-based spreadsheet tool that is pretty simple to use, has accompanying apps, and is sharable with a team if needed.
I set up an AirTable with these headings: NAME, STAFF, DATE, INTERACTION TYPE, LOCATION, TIME, NOTES, ATTACHMENTS.
After an interaction, I record that information. Most of the headings are self-explanatory, but let me explain some:
- STAFF. If you have multiple staff members, elders, deacons, etc., who might have access to this table, then you can put each person’s name and select one or more who had the interaction. Bonus: AirTable has nice sorting options and you can save different “views.” So, you could save a view that makes it easy to see what interactions each staff member has had.
- INTERACTION TYPE. Phone call, contact from member, encouragement card, visit, meeting, text message, etc. All can be set up as options to choose from.
- NOTES: I record a simple summary of what was discussed or any important follow-up items so that I don’t forget…
- ATTACHMENTS. There might have been a picture or document pertaining to that interaction that you’ll want to remember.
Why do you record shepherding interactions and how do you do it?Post Views: 899