Sermon Prep for Busy Pastors with Short Attention Spans

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Chip Northup | Forum Activity | Posted: Thu, Aug 28 2014 6:07 AM

I have been doing this for a year now and it make my life easier for sermon prep and research.

  1. Using an Extra Monitor. I use a laptop at home and work.  I have an external monitor at both spots and plug it into my laptop.  (Use the window key + 'P" and use the extended screen setting; drag the word document or the logos off to the side and you will see it extend on your other screen).  Working with 2 monitors is so much easier to multitask). 
  2. Use Clip Board for MS Word: Figure out how to use "clipboard" on your word doc.  When you research your passage, copy all the resources you want.  The clipboard collects up to 24 items.  When you are ready paste  them all at once instead of going back and forth.  
  3. Use right arrow on keyboard to move through commentaries: Put your text in the search and it wil list a sundry of commentaries.  Logos lists your commentaries of choice first (there's a way to do that).  I hit my fiirst commentary; copy what I want (clip board saves it); right arrow to the next one; copy ; right arrow; copy; and paste them all I want. Saves a lot in going back and forth.
  4. Use 'Ctl + shift + F9 key' to remove hyperlinks: Logos is good about not having soo many hyperlinks but some Bible software and stuff from the web has hyperlinks when you cut & paste.  Scroll what you want on your word doc (select all for the whole doc); 'Ctl + shift + F9 key'; and any annoying hyperlinks will be removed.
  5. Use an audio reader; highlight; clipboard; delete; paste:This will help only the busy guys with short attention spans.  After I collect my commentary notes I paste into a document reader (a voice reads your text on word/some are free on the internet).  While it reads I have my word doc highlighter  ready and yellow anything I definitely want to keep.  Once finished I use word clipboard and copy all my highlighted text and re-paste them all at once (google "how to use 'clip-board' in MS word).  I un-highlight the texts I copied and go through again. I use different highlights for different things. For instance if a supporting text jumps out I highlight that in green.  Using the audio reader helps guys like me get through the task of reading.  And after I'm finished chipping away highlighted texts I may have gotten a few pages of collected notes down to a few paragraphs -- really helps later in the week. 
  6. Use Templates:  Learning to use templates in MS Word was the best thing I ever did.  The tasks you do over and over don't have to be recreated every time.  Google how to use templates.  My sermon prep notes and my pulpit outline are pretty routine.  I set up my doc the way I want so all I have to do is plug in my stuff.  You have to save the initial doc as a "template". When you open a new MS word doc come up a new doc but will have your major points; sub point; places for illustrations; applications; conclusion; supporting texts; transition; benediction and whatever all ready to go.  You save you document like you would any other document with the sermon title as you normally would. Each time you start a new sermon doc you have to go to that template.  My templates have evolved over 15 years so I always put a purpose and date in the template name. I always diagram my text so I will call it DiagTxt8-28-14.  I'm using "auto-text" more now and that's a BIG time-saver.
  7. Ctrl + Enter: I always start a new main point on a new page.  I just like to look down at the page and see a fresh point.  As you get your pulpit outline ready, hit ctl + enter after your transition and it will start a fresh page. Ez.
  8. Paintbrush in Word:  I like to have my main points big, bold, and roman numerated. I like my subpoints with a certain bullet; I like my illustrations boxed in and dark gold; I like my applications dark green (I even insert a finger point); I like my biblical texts in a blue font; my transitions are like main points but italicized.  It seems like a lot but works for me and my desire to keep eye-contact with the listener.  When I want to see that illustration I automatically know it's gold boxed-in with a heading that says "Fresh Basil VS. Dollar Store Basil" and I already know what I was going to say.  Figure out how to use your paintbrush in word.  If you have 3 sub-points in word you can do your first; put your pointer next to it; hit paintbrush; then change all your lines to that same font, size, color, bold/italics, and bullet type.  If you want to do multiple texts throughout the page you hit paintbrush icon twice and you can go through the whole page and do multiple items.  Big time-savor.
  9. Saving Docs. Over the years you may want to refer back to a message.  Saving docs is so important.  Years ago you were more limited to how you could save a doc; they had to be small and no special symbols so my style reflects back then.  I have done a bunch of interim pastorates so I have many sermons; bible studies; devotions; funerals; youth groups etc from different churches.  I like to save by PassageTitleDateChurch.  for instance I put the firts 2 letters of the book; a pithy title; date preached; and church. Example: Mt3.37-17Jesus—FirstOneIn8-31-14FBCCM. Books like Phillipians and Philemon will need different letter but by looking at this 5 years from now I know it was Matthew 3:37-17; titled "Jesus -- First one In!" (a message about Baptism); preached August 31st' at First Baptist church -- EZ.  You can create a master file called Old Sermons > Sub folder NT  > Sub Folder > Gospels > Sub Matthew.  Works for me. After 15 years I'm glad I started it and wished I did in the beginning.  I always start my doc with that above label. I copy it and paste it into where I save it. 

If you have any helpful time-savors, let me know. 
Chip

Posts 298
Lonnie Spencer | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 7:36 AM

Thanks for your  great tips. The use of two screens at once has been a life changer for my study time and a much more productive use for my TV.Wink

-Lonnie

Posts 3938
abondservant | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 8:33 AM

I second that!

Microsoft had a paper that was circulating a number of years ago that said for the average person greater screen real-estate = greater productivity.

I guffawed. But now that I have multiple displays I wouldn't go back. I recently (2010) added my TV to my setup as well giving me 3 24" displays and a 32".



L2 lvl4, L3 Scholars, L4 Scholars, L5 Platinum,  L6 Collectors. L7 Baptist Portfolio. L8 Baptist Platinum.

Posts 1129
Keith Larson | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 8:44 AM

abondservant:

I second that!

Microsoft had a paper that was circulating a number of years ago that said for the average person greater screen real-estate = greater productivity.

I guffawed. But now that I have multiple displays I wouldn't go back. I recently (2010) added my TV to my setup as well giving me 3 24" displays and a 32".

I saw a similar study, pay back in added employee productivity is less than three months! The study compared faster CPUs, more memory, faster HDD and added monitors. Adding one additional monitor gave the most bang for buck, adding the third monitor came in second. The other hardware upgrades only gave marginal improvements to productivity.

Posts 8
Chip Northup | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 9:51 AM

Thanks guys!  I got giddy when I invented the external monitor trick.  Sounds like it was invented years before my light-bulb flashed! 

I was thinking too about a rhythm for sermon prep.  Midpoint in ministry I created a schedule for sermon prep.  It really helped my discipline so I didn't end-up later in the week scurrying to catch up. I'm the kind of guy who would rather work with people than paper any day. You have to adjust if you are busy, but these were my goals.  Now that I work with sermon series it's so much easier to plan ahead for this stuff. 

Here were my sermon-prep goals from week to week; these have become a pattern:

Sunday: Passage picked; broken apart (generally diagrammed); exegesis page is set-up; fuzzy general punch figured-out (example: Mat. 3:37-17 "We don't understand the significance of Jesus' baptism") .

Monday/Tuesday: Read, read, read. Commentaries. Research reflection. What is the application of this text? 
What was the author saying to the intended audience and how does that principle apply today?

Wednesday: Application and homiletic skeleton.
Now that I found the application, how do I best communicate that to my listeners?

Thursday: Plug in illustrations; applications; supporting texts; conclusion/call.

Friday/Saturday/Sun AM: refine, refine, refine.

For new pastors having a good schedule system is important, especially for extroverted pastors like me.  Even though I tend to be a night-person, I find working on the sermon 1st thing AM in the office is best.  Even though I am groggy, I'm more alert than later at night. 

If this helps any seminarian just pay it forward by dumping ice-water over your head and donating to my logos book-fund. Cool
Chip

Posts 1699
JoshInRI | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 1:47 PM

Serious and funny.  I love it.

thanks for paying it backward and forward for us coming up behind you in the great cloud of witnesses,

joshinri

Posts 406
Paul C | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 2:42 PM

Keith Larson:
I saw a similar study, pay back in added employee productivity is less than three months! The study compared faster CPUs, more memory, faster HDD and added monitors. Adding one additional monitor gave the most bang for buck, adding the third monitor came in second. The other hardware upgrades only gave marginal improvements to productivity.
For those of you who have a PC and a laptop, It is possible to operate both machines with a single keyboard and mouse... thereby mimicking an additional monitor. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=35460 Actually, If you want to get really techno-geeky, you can run multiple machines with a single keyboard/mouse. I have had four connected at once, just for grins. It is a treat remembering where each one is. Smile

Edit: This is accomplished wirelessly through your router/network.

Posts 887
Brother Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 2:51 PM

Chip, If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend J.R. Miller's excellent post on "5 days to better sermon prep".  An excellent complement to your methodology.

"I read dead people..."

Posts 8
Chip Northup | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Aug 28 2014 7:49 PM

Thanx Brother Bother. Big Smile

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