For the longest time, my sermon notes did nothing more than collect dust after they were written. There wasn’t any reason to do anything with them. At the time, my church didn’t have small groups, so they were never referenced again for church purposes. I was usually off doing my own studies during the week, so there wasn’t much incentive to look back at them. After a while, with no reason to take notes, I stopped altogether. It wasn’t until I gave my sermon notes a purpose that I started to take them again & found them useful.
In a previous Bible study tip, we looked at the benefits of taking sermon notes. The advantages of such a discipline are plentiful on Sunday morning. But, what do you do with your sermon notes once the service is over? Do you ever go back and look at them? Or, do they remain tucked away never to see the light of day?
If you’re a note taker, like me, I want to help you get the most out of your sermon notes. So today I’m going to show how to use your sermon notes throughout the week. I bet you’ll be surprised how much benefit you can get from them.
Fuel Your Bible Study
There are lots of things you can do with your sermon notes, but the first thing I suggest is using them as Bible study material during the week. While you should have a plan for your Bible study, your sermon notes can provide a wealth of material for digging into God’s Word. If you don’t have a plan you’re going through, this is the first place I recommend turning each week. Even if you have a plan, you should still review your sermon notes at least once during the week.Your sermon notes can provide a wealth of material for digging into God’s Word Click To Tweet
Here are a few ways you can study using your sermon notes.
1. Look Up Cross-References
Remember all those Bible passages your pastor rattled off during his sermon? If you wrote them down, this is the perfect time to look them up. Read each reference and make notes on how they fit with the sermon. Depending on how many passages are referenced, it’s possible to have enough references to fill a day or two of devotional time.
2. Study the Passage Yourself
Next, read the sermon’s main passage and use your Bible study tools to investigate the passage on your own. Study the passage as if you were preparing a Bible study lesson, digging in much like your pastor did. When you’re finished, compare your notes to your sermon notes. Did you reach the same conclusions as your pastor? What about any cross-references or sub-points?
This practice is a great way to learn how to study, as you have an outline to check your work against.
3. Study Related Passages
More often than not, your study of the cross-references will lead you to further related cross-references that your pastor didn’t have time to mention. Take time to study these passages as well. How deep down the rabbit hole can you go?
This is a fun practice and often one your pastor spends lots of time doing. His preliminary notes are likely full of Bible references that he would love to mention, but pares it down for the final sermon. In your own studies you don’t have to worry about that.
4. Listen to Other Sermons
One more thing you can do is find sermons from other pastors who have preached on the same passage. Go to a website like SermonAudio.com to search for them. Do these other preachers come to similar conclusions? Did you understand the passage better by listening to an additional sermon?
If you do all the above you’ll have more than enough material to get through an entire week of Bible study. And you’ll never be bored because it’ll be something new every week.
Prepare for Small Group
If your church has small groups, you likely have an opportunity to discuss the Sunday sermon in a group setting. If so, use your sermon notes as an opportunity to refresh yourself before the meeting. This is helpful if your group meets later in the week. If you’re like most people, by time you walk out the church doors on Sunday, you’ve already forgotten what the sermon is about. This makes your sermon notes invaluable.
Don’t be the person who comes to group unprepared. Study your notes the day of the meeting and bring them with you.
Listen Again, Follow Along
Provided your church make its sermons available online, you could give the sermon another listen. On this second listen, follow along with your notes. Do your notes make sense and match the sermon? Are they in context?
This is also an excellent opportunity to download the pastor’s sermon notes or manuscript if it is made available. If so, you can print them and write your own notes in the margins.
Personally, this process has proven helpful many times. When I listen again, I inevitably hear something I missed the first time. A second listen not only edifies, but it helps you take better notes on Sunday mornings as you learn your pastor’s cues.
A sermon is pointless if it doesn’t impact your life and how you serve God. Therefore, look for ways to practically apply the sermon to your life. Examine your life and see how the sermon’s points move you to change. Seek God in prayer and ask him to reveal ways you can live out the truths of the passage, whether that be in how you live or worship God. Did your pastor provide points of application? How do they fit in your life?
If you don’t do anything else, this should be the one thing you do every week, whether you take notes or not.A sermon is pointless if it doesn’t impact your life. Look for ways to practically apply the sermon to your life. Click To Tweet
Prepare for Next Week’s Sermon
My pastor likes to preach expository sermons, which is a fancy way of saying he preaches through books of the Bible. Not only does this make it easier for the pastor to know what he’s preaching week-to-week, but it helps you as well. When you leave church you know exactly where he’s going to pick up the following Sunday. As a note taker, you can use your pastor’s expository preaching to your advantage.
In addition to the above, you can use the week to prepare yourself for the next week’s sermon. After you’ve looked over your notes and are confident of your understanding of the passage & have made application, why not look ahead to the next verses? Take preliminary notes of your own. Make note of the main point and any other items that stand out. Jot down key cross-references you find.
When Sunday comes, take notes like normal. Then, at the beginning of the week compare your sermon notes to the ones you took before the sermon. How well do your notes align? Did your pastor reference the same passages you’d written down?
This is a great exercise in learning to prepare lessons, while digging deeper in your own studies.
Make a Plan, Work the Plan
What do you currently do with your sermon notes? This week I challenge you to apply the principles above, even if it’s only one or two of them. Let your pastor’s sermon marinate all week.
If you found these tips helpful don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me an email. Or, if you have questions, I’d love to answer those as well.
Weekly Study Prompts
This week, meditate and journal on the following passages:
- Monday – Leviticus 23
- Tuesday – Leviticus 26
- Wednesday – Numbers 11-12
- Thursday – Numbers 13-14
- Friday – Numbers 16-17
- Memory Verses: Leviticus 26:13; Deuteronomy 31:7-8