Reading and Notes

Today is a principal study day in my week. It is a day where I do a good deal of reading about the text I am preaching from on Sunday. I tend to do more personal reading/observation of the text on Tuesdays and intensify that for Wednesday, combining it with checking commentaries and other references.

I have a substantial collection of electronic books (Logos/Libronix), but I don't want to confine myself to electronic sources - especially while preaching from Romans. To do so would mean to miss the outstanding commentaries by Douglas Moo (NIC) and Thomas Schreiner (ECNT). These two commentaries vie for the top spot in my list of favorites.

I find myself taking notes of ideas/concepts, linking them to page numbers in the respective commentaries. Occasionally I will pull a few sentences out as a quotation, but I'm finding that doing this involves a good deal of writing. Not that there is anything wrong with that - writing is a way of learning.

But it got me thinking about how other pastors handle the results of their reading. How do you take notes? Do you mark your books or write notes on separate paper? Do you file them?

6 comments:

Milton Stanley said...

I do some of all that. For hardcopy books, I make a lot of vertical lines in the margins. Sometimes I'll copy pages from a commentary and mark them up pretty heavily. For electronic sources I'll do a lot of cutting and pasting to make a sort of master list of quotes and ideas, usually 3-4 single-spaced pages. When composing the sermon, I'll sometimes draw on this information. I also use internal citations in my sermon outline, although I don't always give sources when preaching. Still, I was an English teacher long enough that when using someone else's ideas (especially quotes) I will at least say "As someone said..." while preaching.

Bumble said...

Hi Peter, I work entirely with logos and the internet (and have been growing my logos set a lot). And since I don preach often enough, I had developed a rigid process for quality control. I start with a 10-steps template and take notes on it. By step 7, I write the manuscript; step 8 for PowerPoint and Outline, etc.

I uploaded my notes and stuff for a sermon here http://tinyurl.com/c9rx7 in case you want to see the details...

Peter Bogert said...

Thanks to both of you! Bumble, your files look pretty good! I hope other people are able to take a look at them!

Bumble said...

Thanks Peter for you kind comments. I am sure that you overlook my glaring ESL problems (grin)

Those files and mechanics came from my frustrations and wrestlings to have some sort of consistency in the quality of my preaching. Unlike you, I preach once a while, like a benched athlete, and therefore I won't be able to have the routine down all the time...

The advantage of keeping these files is that I will be able to search my past files with Google Desktop to find an idea that I've work with before...

Larry said...

While not a preacher it's interesting to note the various methods used to prepare for the Sunday sermon.

I know a preacher who follows a five-year sermon plan and always knows exactly what he is going to talk about on any given Sunday. This overly planned process just doesn't work in my opinion; without the flexibility to adapt a sermon to a congregations immediate needs may cause many problems to lie dormant until they fester and explode.

I also know a preacher who quotes commentary after commentary, but seldom finds the need to reference the Bible as a source text.

I was wondering if you used any software programs (on-line or desktop) to organize your notes, such as Net Snippets, or other tree-type information systems?

Bumble said...

Larry, you are not alone in your observations. One of the reasons I got into seminary to learn to preach is my frustration with the lack of nurtrious preaching to the souls.

But to answer your question, I've experimented with mind-mapping software, ECCOpro, and Zoot but then settle for just a Word processor.

Tree-type software may be great at certain task (like map out the whole series), but just for one sermon, we don't need to go that complicated. I found that the hearers will have problem going past the 2nd level of an outline.

Besides, I really want to have a simple sermon to address a few things that God wants us to focus on, rather than a comprehensive lecture with complete coverage.