Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sermon Notes

In keeping with starting with the basics. I thought I'd share about some simple sermon note taking.

For a long time, I was not a note taker during sermons. I preferred to lean forward and try to absorb what was said through concentration. However, many times I encountered sermons that were so full of scripture and so full of developed thought that I felt compelled to begin taking notes. This is still something of a challenge for me because, truth be told, I honestly would prefer to sit still and just watch the Pastor, but I cannot express how much note taking has helped me learn scripture as well as learn about God. It is often easy to miss a small, but valuable biblical point or let a mentioned scripture slide past your attention. Though taking notes can be hard work, and sometimes makes me feel disconnected from the Pastor, since I can't make as much eye contact, I cannot express how much it has helped me learn.

During my first semester at college, I had to take a rather irritating class called Freshman Seminar. Despite the many hoops that needed to be jumped through, I did learn some valuable things about note taking. Your brain actually retains and learns information better if you spread your notes across the page, include spaces and margins, and draw lines and boxes. Grouping and separating information visually, helps the brain classify and encode your notes. Using bullet points, numbers, indentations etc. helps make visually appealing, but more effective notes. I like to draw boxes around the scripture addresses so that I can find them easily and look them up. I've gone through my notes a number of times and retaught myself the sermon by looking at the bullet points and going through the scripture on my own.

The notebook I currently use is a large (7.5 x 10 in) Piccadilly Notebook with plain pages. I like the Piccadilly notebooks for their excellent paper and the fact that they're hardback and include a ribbon and a pocket in the back for storing other notes and miscellaneous items. I also tend to greatly prefer unlined paper for whatever I happen to be writing. The Piccadilly Notebooks may not be as durable as Moleskines (the elastic tends to be weak), but I think they are superior in many other ways (they're cheaper). I'm hoping to keep my sermon notes in these for a long time to come.

As you can see on the right, the size works perfectly when matched with a Cambridge Wide Margin (which I'll post about sometime) as well as a Study Bible.

I've been blessed to be able to reread sermons that have convicted me and touched my heart. I'll leave you with my sermon notes from a sermon that shocked me and that I've reread multiple times since I heard it. "You're Dead" preached by Pastor Jim Gay.


  1. I just wanted to encourage you to continue this blog. I am a grandmother and have been a Christian for over 30 years. Your ideas are important - and not overwhelming as I am looking for new ideas for my Bible time

  2. Thank you for the encouragement. Though the future is uncertain, I hope to continue as long as I am able.

  3. Jonathan, you have seriously gladdened my heart! I am a pastor, and I thank God for your earnestness in understanding the Word. Your approach is why we spend hours upon hours preparing sermons and teaching. Your dedication encourages me!

  4. Jonathan, what a nice blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts here. Don't know how I found your blog but I'm glad I did. This particular entry has inspired me to start taking sermon notes...again. I can take notes on just about anything but when it comes to sermon notes, at church, forget it, I'm just not in to it. Don't know why. Again, thank you.