Every single day presents new opportunities for you to add to your illustration, story, joke, and fact library. Every single day you encounter something that will preach. But when you find these gems, what do you do?
Many pastors, I’m sure, still use a physical filing system for all of their sermon prep resources. If they find something that will preach, they write it down on a notecard and file it away. I have a lot of respect for you if you do this. I believe I have found a better way, though. A way that is much more efficient and allows for much better organization.
Below are 3 sermon prep tools that you can use to have a more efficient and organized system to your sermon resources. By the way, earlier this week Joe wrote a great article on the most underrated sermon prep tool.
Many people have called Evernote their digital brain. I can totally relate to what they mean. Evernote is essentially a note taking and filing system that has a lot of features. The best way to utilize Evernote for sermon preparation is to add Notebooks for your different sermon elements and then add Notes to each of these elements. For example: set up a notebook titled, “Illustrations.” Whenever you come by something that would be a great illustration in a sermon, add it to your Evernote.
Evernote is great because it allows you to add Tags to each Note so that it can be even more specifically categorized. Maybe you came across an illustration on forgiveness. You add the illustration to your “Illustrations” Notebook by adding a Note. You can then add “forgiveness” as a tag on that Note. So the next time you are looking for an illustration on forgiveness, you simply look that Tag up and you will see everything you have related to that Tag.
2. Kindle E-Reader
I have a confession. For a long time, I rebelled against the idea of owning an e-reader. Since then, I have come around and am finding that I like having my Kindle a ton because of a simple feature that Amazon has incorporated with it. Any highlights I take on my e-books go to a web page where I can access them all.
You can go to the site, grab the quotes from a certain book and then add them to your Evernote account under the title, “Quotes.” Again, you can utilize relevant Tags. This is a phenomenal tool! Imagine being able to have a library of quotes and facts from books you have read organized by topic. That is exactly what this does!
Even if you have an e-reader, like a Kindle, it is still nice to have a physical book in your hands. You can utilize Evernote with regular books just like with Kindle books. It just takes some extra work. As you read, highlight things that pop out to you and then, after each chapter, add them to your Evernote account.
More Efficient and Organized
If you decide to migrate your sermon prep system to Evernote, I promise you will not be disappointed. You will find that you are more efficient and organized in your research. It is common to get stuck in your preparation while scouring around the internet trying to find the perfect story, but you know it can take a long time to find that perfect story, illustration, or video. In the midst of trying to find a story for topic “X,” we tend to find great stories for other topics. You don’t have to ignore them anymore, you can add them to your Evernote and consider using them later.
Do you have a sermon preparation system for organizing research? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.