When Journaling Helps Your Preaching

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I have found that one of the best developments in the area of sermon preparation for me is journaling. In fact, I have begun to use a Moleskine journal in order to write out my sermon notes before I even touch a computer. Here’s how one looks:

My Large Ruled Moleskine Notebook
My Large Ruled Moleskine Notebook
My sermon notes on Psalm 23
My sermon notes on Psalm 23
Notes in my moleskine for a recent Deacon\'s Meeting
Notes in my moleskine for a recent Deacon

Since March 28 (when I began using this type of journal), I have written just over 130 pages in my 240-page Moleskine. How has this helped my walk with Christ in general and my sermon preparation specifically?

  1. I begin reading the text from which I shall preach devotionally. Journaling helps me to read the passage personally so the Word can soak into the fabric of my being. If I expect my people to come before God in his house and soak in the Word being preached, I must put myself before God beforehand so his Word will soak into me. This practice of journaling has really transformed this. I am not merely reading the Bible so I can get ‘stuff’ for my sermon. I’m seeing what Howard Hendricks notes in his book Living By the Book that Bible study is for life-change. With this, I am fully engaged in the “so-what factor” — I always leave room in my entries to seek God in apply His Word, i.e., application, i.e., the ‘so-what factor.’ “This is what the Bible says? Great! So what?” I am able to prayerfully brainstorm some implications.
  2. I think better with pen and paper than I do in front of a computer. In a post at another blog I run, I noted: “Speaking of Moleskine: I am hooked, and I have Joe Thorn to blame for it. I was a Mead Composition Notebook guy, but found that the paper, the wide ruled nature of the layout, and the ease with which it falls apart made me begin to look for other options. So, I tried a Moleskine, and now I love it and am hooked on journaling, especially when it comes to sermon preparation. I find that if I write out my research in this journal rather than type it out on a computer, I absorb the content a bit more and the sermon becomes more personal to me as well.”
  3. It’s portable. I do laptops, but dude are they a burden to carry, especially around an airport. But, if I need to travel and do some sermon preparation, I take my ESV Personal Size Bible, my Large Ruled Moleskine Notebook, my Large 18-Month Moleskine Planner, my Zebra F-301 0.7 mm fine point pen, photocopies of sections of commentaries from which I will be preaching, stick them in a manila envelope, and I am set. Then, when I get to a computer, I can just start typing.
  4. It actually helps my penmanship. Computers not only hinder my thinking, but also kill my penmanship. I am just stunned at how sloppy my writing became.
  5. It leaves a legacy. For more on this, I would recommend reading through Don Whitney’s Simplify Your Spiritual Life. He notes that in 100 years, your relatives may not know about you at all — except if you journal.

Do any of you journal as part of your sermon preparation? If so, what are some methods you use? We can always learn from each other.

Breaking in a new moleskine!
Breaking in a new moleskine!
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7 thoughts on “When Journaling Helps Your Preaching

    When Journaling Helps Your Preaching said:
    July 4, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    [...] Go to the author’s original blog: When Journaling Helps Your Preaching [...]

    Charles said:
    July 5, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I don’t currently journal, but you make a good case for at least considering it. Thanks.

    I have linked to this post at my blog at http://www.bibleexposition.net

    [...] 10 Ways Not To Measure Success Doctrinal Books For Children How To Begin a Commentary Collection Journelling and Preaching Thinking of Doing a PhD? Fruitfulness and [...]

    [...] Tuesday, 22 July 2008 Bible Study , preaching Matthew Perry has a good article entitled When Journaling Helps Your Preaching (4 July 2008). I don’t use a Moleskine myself, but I have found handwriting study notes and [...]

    Jef Peeples said:
    July 25, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I too use Moleskines. I have one that I use for Bible and church notes much as you do, and one that I use for mapping out the creative writing I do. I have one that I journal in. I also use it to record ideas I have that are not directly connected to my Bible reading or sermon listening. I’m like you. My laptop is nice, but I can’t keep a battery charge on it long enough to use it. I much rather take my moleskine around with me.

    trapperhoney said:
    June 8, 2010 at 11:59 am

    amen!! i can’t agree more.

    [...] I have challenged all of you who are participating in this Read. Pray. Fast. 21 Days to journal your journey.  If you do, you’ll be glad you did.  I began journaling during my sermon preparation two years ago, and I’m sold on how helpful it is (you can read about it here).  [...]

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