Bible Study

5 Reasons Why Taking Sermon Notes is Important

woman taking notes - overlay 5 reasons for taking sermon notes

I don’t remember if anyone told me that I had to take notes of the sermon when I first started going to church; but I do remember having a notebook and pencil next to my bible very early in my Christian walk. A few years ago when I returned to Puerto Rico I found some of those notebooks and looking through them, I could literally remember details of that service. That’s how strong the connection is in our memory while we take notes. 

We know that taking notes is important and beneficial for everyone in our different learning experiences and even when carrying out simple activities, including the shopping list when we go out to the supermarket. In the same way, taking notes of the sermon is valuable and will help us better process the message we are hearing. Let’s see more in detail how these notes benefit us. 

Benefits of Taking Sermon Notes

1. Helps to Stay Focused

Staying focused on the Word and worshiping the Lord shouldn’t be a problem. However, the reality is that we can be sitting on Sunday Service and our mind is flying out to think about everything we have to do. Taking notes during the exposition of the message helps us to concentrate. This activity helps us to listen carefully and process what we are hearing, it also helps us to remember it as we will see later. 

Sometimes my daughter asks me what we are going to eat for lunch, and I am surprised when I have to remind her that we already had lunch. I wonder how it is possible that she doesn’t remember what she ate recently; the answer is simple, she was not concentrating on the food, she was thinking about what she was going to play next or watch on TV. We cannot allow that to happen to us, after being fed the Word of God a few hours later not been able to remember what we were fed. 

2. Participate Actively in the Sermon

We can assume that since we are not speaking from the pulpit, our participation in the sermon must be a passive or of simple consumption. The reality is that we must actively participate in the sermon even before we arrive at the temple, for example, praying for our pastors and preachers as they prepare and for the church that is about to listen. By taking notes during the message, we are actively participating by actively listening. 

Active listening is used a lot in relation to communication between two people, but we can apply these principles when listening and taking sermon notes. It requires an effort, on our part, to focus on what we are hearing. It leads us to think less about ourselves and more about the information that is being presented to us; for the purpose of understanding and learning better. 

We’ve all had the experience of having the radio or TV on and not even knowing what we’re listening to. That’s a classic example of passive listening to the information presented. Let this not happen to us during the sermon!

3. Better Understanding and Retention

While we take notes of the sermon, we will be able to better understand what we are hearing at the moment. As we will see later, it helps to meditate and better understand the preached passage and others. As I mentioned at the beginning, it will also help us remember what we are hearing and learning. Initially, you may only remember hearing a sermon on that passage before, but as you grow in this practice, you will begin to remember the notes you have taken as well. 

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4. Meditation during the week

By having notes of the sermon at home, you will be able to meditate on them and on the passage during the week. If you are a new believer, and you are still growing in the study of the bible; your notes will be a very good guide for you to dig a little deeper into the passage. If you already have more confidence in studying the Bible, it is still of great benefit that we take time during the week to process what we have learned. 

In school and college, you didn’t walk into your classes, take notes and forget them, did you? Of course not, you had to review your notes, because at some point during the class you had to answer questions or complete an exam where you could not consult your notes. Likewise, we do not want to take notes by simply filling out notebooks with information, we want to review them to prepare ourselves for the tests of life. It’s rare that someone asks you for a verse to tell them by heart just because, but we have to remember what we learn for the next benefit. 

5. Reference for Teaching and Evangelism

As we mentioned before, by reviewing the notes of the sermons we have heard, we will learn not only the facts of the Bible stories, but also how to apply the teachings of the Bible. As we review our notes, we will grow in our faith and confidence in teaching others the Bible, as well as being more prepared to share the Gospel with others. 

Prepare to Take Notes

We have seen that we must have an active participation during the sermon and how by doing so we will begin to see benefits in our daily lives. Now, how do we prepare to take notes? This should be pretty obvious, but I want to share a few details with you that have helped me restart my practice of taking sermon notes. 

Have your note-taking materials handy

Again, this would seem like a no-brainer, though you can even take your notes on a napkin. If we want to meditate on our notes during the week, use them as a reference, etc. We need to make decisions as simple as:

  • What notebook am I going to use? 
  • Pencil or pen?
  • Colors or not?
  • Paper or digital?

As you make these decisions, keep in mind what will motivate you to take the notes. A nice cover, the size of the notebook, the fact that you can place the notebook in your bag or the cover of the bible, etc. Similarly, the instrument with which you are going to write, that you feel comfortable with it, etc. These decisions are related to developing the habit and motivation of taking notes. If you have to take notes on a napkin, do so and then transfer them to your notebook.

I’ve created sermon notebooks with sections to help us stay focused and actively listening; We also have one of the versions in digital; the listing is in Spanish, but you’ll also get the English Version.

Eliminate distractions

We’ve mentioned that we want to take notes to stay focused, so be intentional and eliminate distractions. Everyone’s situations are different, but this may include: turning off the phone or putting it away; get a good night’s rest, eat if this affects your concentration. 

If you are not used to taking notes of the message; The first time you do it, if it doesn’t go very well, identify why and make the necessary adjustments. 

This also includes, having working writing utensils and only what is necessary, you don’t need to have all your colors falling off your chair every time you move. Don’t worry about perfect handwriting or super-organized notes, either. May our greatest focus be listening. 

My biggest distraction is my children: what do I do?

According to the ages and needs of your children, this will vary, but I share some basic principles that I hope will help you manage the distractions that children generate.

  • Take care of the distractions that they may generate beforehand, such as taking them to the bathroom before starting, giving them a snack, etc.
  • If they are young, allow them to have quiet activities on hand for them to occupy themselves with. At church, we try to have coloring books available for the children. 
  • As they grow older, teach them to take notes on the message, later in the week they can meditate with you.  
  • Talk to your children about the importance of listening and taking notes during the sermon, and how they can help you listen and that they can do the same. 
  • Set realistic expectations of what we can and cannot do during the message. 

I mention that I’m restarting taking sermon notes again; having a special needs child who couldn’t tolerate sitting down during the sermon and a baby I gave up trying. But now that they have other needs I’m starting again following the tips mentioned before. 

If you are in a similar season, what I was doing was to take notes after the service when we were already at home. If you have access to the audio or video of the message, listen to it again and take your notes. 

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What should I Include in My Sermon Notes?

Notes not transcription

I mean that you do not have to write everything that is said during the message, write small portions that make sense and that help you to meditate, understand and deepen the exposed passage. 

Reference Passages

This is my favorite part of taking notes, jotting down the reference passages and then reviewing them and seeing in more detail the connections that the pastor or preacher presented. 

Questions

You will not be able to interrupt the sermon to ask your questions, but it is good that you write them down so that you can later ask or study them. Receiving answers to our questions will help to enrich the learning process, and you will be able to remember the answer better when you are faced with the topic or question again. 

Main Points

Write down the main points about the passage, the themes, and the connections the preacher makes with them. I recommend that you underline or write these down in a separate section, so you can get a clear and brief idea of ??the message while you review your notes. 

How It Confronts You 

Part of active listening is listening to the message and being honest about how the Word is confronting our sin, weaknesses, and attitudes. It is easier to listen to the sermon and see how it applies to our husband or relatives; but our goal should be to know more about God and how that knowledge confronts our lives so that we continue to grow to the measure of Christ. These notes will help us pray and take action to work on the different areas we have identified. 

Conclusion

I hope that reading about the benefits of taking sermon notes encourages you to start, as soon as possible, to do this practice. Tell us in the comments if you have a habit of taking notes and how it has helped you. If you haven’t started yet, give it a try and let us know how it goes. 

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