Monday, August 17, 2009

Sermon tracking?

So, I gave up lectionary preaching except for high holy seasons nearly a year ago. I found that I could guide people with greater intentionality through scriptures, doctrines, and teachings if I chose a series that made sense rather than the lectionary, which sadly does not always make the best sense. It has been fairly effective and give people a handle on what we will be looking at for a month or two at a time.

My trouble now, which isn't just since I gave up the lectionary, it was a problem before, is that I don't always remember which scriptures I have preached in which setting, or which illustrations I have used when. I have preached weekly for the last 3 years and have also preached at summer camp, youth and young adult retreats, and women's events. Three years of preaching is a lot, though it is nothing compared to the (potentially) 44 years of preaching I have left before mandatory retirement. So, the question is, how do I track which scriptures/themes I have used when, and which (personal) illustrations I have used in which setting. I don't want to be repeating, but I also want to be able to use the illustrations that mean the most when they are relevant.

Anyone have a good methodology?


Diane said...

I don't have a good way to organize sermon illustrations/ideas that I have already used, but I do like organizing potential sermon ideas on ( I tag them with the scripture verse (example: Genesis1) as well as descriptive titles (e.g., creation wonder joy goodness NewYorkTimes). Then I don't lose track of that great sermon illustration that I am not preaching on right now but might in the future...

I'm eager to see what other people suggest for their organizing systems!

Diane said...

And one other thing:

Several older pastors have suggested to me something along these lines:

1) Organize all sermons (and sermon prep materials and bulletins) by date

2) a) Create an index card for each sermon: Date + Location + Scripture used/sermon title/lectionary week/theme of sermon (and other relevant info as you determine ---> the goal is so that as you look at the card, you can recall the service and decide whether you want to pull out the whole file)
b) Put these cards into an index card file box, sorted by date

3) a) Create a separate index card with the SCRIPTURE as the heading and the date/other info as extra info on the card. Create as many cards as you used Scriptures (so, if you use OT/NT/Ps/Gospel, then you would create four cards and file them separately)
b) Organize in a separate index card file box according to Scripture, so that when it comes to write a new sermon on that same Scripture, you can check to see what you've already said and where

I haven't actually tried this system yet [I should!], but like I said, several pastors I know swear by it.