Sermon Note-taking 101: Four Tips to Help You Get Started

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sermon notes

Sometimes in life, you have to re-learn how to do something after being away from it for a while, especially if it involves a big transition from old to new.

This is definitely one of those times for me! I’ve recently made the switch from PC to Mac, and now that I’m finally through with the arduous two-week process of transitioning everything over to the new tech, I can get back to work. (Hello, big 27-inch monitor that’s 10″ bigger than my PC monitor was!)

It feels weird, but good too. I just have to get back into the swing of things, after not writing any blogs for at several weeks.

And here we are!

Have you ever been to church, heard a wonderful message, and then three days later you can’t remember what that message was about? Or worse, you show up and plant yourself in the seat, and after it’s over, you realize that you missed half the sermon because you were thinking about all the groceries you have to get after church? Been there, done that!

That’s why, a few years ago, I started taking sermon notes. I was at our monthly young adult service, and the girl sitting next to me was taking beautiful, elaborate notes.

It led me to think: I come to church every week excited about what great message will I hear, but I can’t even recall what was spoken two weeks ago. Which is a problem, since the pastors at my church love to do multi-part series, where it’s helpful to remember what was said in Part One last week.

So I went out and bought a notebook, and the rest is history! I’ve been taking sermon notes for over a year now, and I think the biggest benefit is increased focus and comprehension. Writing things down helps me pay attention, and gives me the opportunity to refer back to that key point or Bible verse later.

If you’ve never taken notes in church, you should really give it a try! Even if you don’t think it will help, just try it for a few weeks and see.

Get the most out of the message!

Start with paper and pen (or pencil). Figure out what works for you, be it a binder of loose-leaf notebook paper, or a spiral notebook. You could keep the notes for a specified time window (say, throw away any notes older than three months), or keep your notes indefinitely. Also, be sure and have a really great pen to write with; one that’s good and reliable, writes smoothly, and so forth. And it doesn’t hurt to have an extra on hand for backup, in case your first pen runs out of ink.

Bring your Bible! Or use an app on your smart device, whichever you prefer. Even though I have the YouVersion Bible app on my phone, I like to take a compact Bible with me to church. It’s just nicer to have the verses open in front of me, and be able to flip pages quickly, instead of scrolling on my phone or waiting for the next chapter to load.

Find a handy tote to carry your things in. For a long time, I just carried my notebook and Bible in my hands. But I longed for a more convenient solution: a bag to carry them in, and a place to keep them during the week so they would be ready to grab and go Sunday morning. So, I bought a cute tote bag that says ‘teach me your way Lord’ (from Psalm 86:11), and now everything is always together in the bag and ready for easy transport.

One last thing! When you sit down in church, and put your pen to paper, say a prayer asking God what He would like you to learn through that sermon. And then keep your mind and heart open to what He reveals!

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