A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sermon Notes-The Finale!

With all this talk of sermon notes, I thought that maybe it would be a good thing to practically discuss how to take notes.

There are several ways to take notes.  One is that you get a voice recorder and record the sermon.  Then transfer them to paper later for storage or further study.  Some folks bring their computers or blackberries for notes.   For most of us, we just take notes the old fashioned way, with paper and pen. 

Each year I buy a notebook that will hold a whole year's worth of teaching and sermons.  My favorites are made by a company called Piccadilly.  They are wire-bound, 8.5 X 11, and have a hard cover that withstands all the trips to and from church in my bag.  I'm so excited!  Barnes and Noble has them dirt cheap right now!  I'm going to stock up!

Some folks just outline the sermon.  Others take more detailed notes.  I'm a detail note taker.  I try to get everything down in the very vernacular in which it's said.  This can be very interesting when the speaker is a converted red neck hick from the mountains of PA who spent 5 years developing his vocabulary in graduate school and has a habit of creating his own dictionary.  Are you feeling my pain?  But I must say, it adds much color to his sermons!

For each sermon, I start a new page being careful to include the date, title, and name of the speaker. 
In order to get down everything I want to, I have developed my own form of shorthand.  This is especially good when the speaker talks quickly or has a lot of good things to say.  Mine is a combination of short hand and symbols, but it works well for me.  I find that I can get almost everything down that I want to.  For small or very common words, I just use the first letter of the word.

For instance:
B4 u g 2 heaven, u m 1st recv X.  (Before you go to heaven, you must 1st receive Christ.)
s/t m b up. (something must be up-although for up I use an up arrow.)
repentance-confession--salvation (the dashs are actually arrows.  It's how I show progression.  It saves a lot of words!)
If possible, I draw a diagram.  I think in diagrams so this works well for me.. 

On Monday or Tuesday, or sometimes Sunday afternoon, I'll read through my notes, filling in any words that I fear may not make sense later.  For things that I find really important or profound and for things that I really want to remember and apply, I highlight with a highlighter.  I also look up all the scripture references again and read them prayerfully.  Then I review the whole sermon asking God to speak to me and apply it to my life. 

Sometimes in my reading and studying and praying through the notes, God will give me additional thoughts or scriptures that enhance or build on the sermon, so I'll write them on the page in a different color ink so that I'll be able to keep everything straight when I review it at a later date.  These also come in handy when I have to teach or share something at a meeting or in a service.  I have a plethora of resources to use in my study since my library is limited to what I can fit on my nightstand unless I drive to church and invade the Pastor's library.  I could spend eons in there!  It's a virtual treasure trove!

Someday, I'll arrange all my notes by subject or at least make a list of subjects and exactly where I can find notes on that subject, but even now it's not hard to find something I want to review.  For instance, our Pastor often does sermon series.  If he did a sermon series in that year's worth of notes, I'll list the title on the first page so that I can just flip open to the first page of every year's notes to see if it's located in that notebook. 

I have to admit that there are some Sundays when I just am not the best note taker in the world.  As you can see below, I didn't take the best notes, but I did get the main point of the day.

And then there are those days that I just stayed up too late the night before and I can't concentrate very well.  Which brings me to another important point.

Just as we prepare for other things, we should prepare for Sundays more than any other day of the week.  Really, what one thing do you do that is more important than going to God's house, being with God's people, hearing God's Word to you for your life, and taking the very best that you have to offer to give to God on His day?  Should we not prepare for this?  Should this not be the pinnacle event of our week?  If it's not, I suggest you get your priorities in order. 

So I do the following:
-I get my outfit and my kid's clothing ready to wear on Saturday.   That way we're not running around looking for shoes, socks, and belts on Sunday morning.  I also prepare my offering envelope.  Offering time is part of the worship service and should be an act of worship to God.  When I arrive at church, I've already prayed about my giving and have put what God required in an envelope.

-On Sunday morning, I rise early and spend time in the Word and worship myself.  I feel that Sundays are a day where I am to give, both to God out of the abundance of my heart that He has filled all week long, and to the body of Christ where God has placed me and gifted me with something that is needful for the whole body.  By the time I get to church, my mind is focused, the weeks problems and concerns are put away, and my heart is ready to worship God wholly. 

This means that I go to bed at a decent time on Saturday night.  (To be truthful, I have to admit that I start my bedtime on the couch on Saturday nights because my hubby goes to bed way early to pray, meditate and ruminate in his sermon for the next morning.  So I sleep on the couch until I wake up at some ungodly hour and then I quietly move into my bed making sure that hubby is sleeping quite soundly.  And I have to admit that it is a real challenge for me this time of year because I absolutely love Christmas movies and there are so many good ones on right now.  Fortunately for me, they are on at least 20 times before Christmas so it's not hard for me to delay my viewing to a later date.) 

So many people sit in church with a glazed or bored look over their faces because they didn't get enough sleep the night before.  So they arrive tired and unable to focus, thus unable to glean from the service what God has prepared for them.  This leaves them unequipped for the week.  Some people just sit and sleep, which I find very irreverent and rude.  I've even been services where grown men snore loudly or fall so far over in the pew that half their body is hanging out into the aisle.  Personally I feared that he was dead because I couldn't imagine that anyone could actually sleep in that position.  And then there's the boggle heads.  Their heads drop down and jerk up, drop down and jerk up.  Just let me interject my own personal opinion here.   If you can't stay awake in church, then stay home and sleep.  You aren't getting anything out of the service, and frankly, you are a distraction to others that are trying to listen. 

Sunday morning is the favorite part of my week.  I love to worship and to hear the Word  preached and to experience the moving of the Spirit in the service and in my heart.  That is why I write down as much as I can so that I can remember everything God wants me to get. 


  1. Thanks for posting this series! I'll be taking notes today!

  2. Thanks for reading this series Kristy. Praise God it was a blessing to you.

  3. I kind of mentioned this series on my blog last week. I hope you don't mind.