Notetaking During the Sermon
As you settle back into a routine from the summer, it might be a good time to consider how you take notes during the sermon. We like notetaking, and our style of preaching invites it (thinking here about the main points, which often require more than one pass to digest). But notetaking has its pitfalls:
- While recording some information that is intriguing, one can easily miss another point spoken right after, that was actually the preacher's more important point.
- It can actually get in the way of the primary purpose of preaching. Preaching is not primarily about the transmission of information, that is then downloaded, recorded, and then reviewed later. Those are valuable and right parts of preaching, but they are not THE thing. In Life Training Classes, this IS the thing. I will share what THE thing is in preaching in a moment.
- Depending upon what medium you record your notes, the medium itself can get in the way. I'm not just looking at you iPad people here. Any medium can get in the way - a fountain pen can leak. You can run out of paper, or space on your paper, or drop your paper, or never settle in to one particular rhythm, and your notes are all over the place. Now, for sure, computers and digital media can be an even bigger distraction - to yourself and others. Our minds think differently when we are writing versus typing (and depending on how hard you type, your keyfalls might be an odd sound among the listeners around you).
So - aping Paul here - while I don't have a word from the Lord on this, when it comes to your notetaking media, I think the best policy is "keep it simple".
This goes for what we record. The point of preaching is not the transmission of information, but our transformation by information - the gospel - right there in our seats. The recording of notes can actually inhibit that "process". One can, by taking notes, be less "present" in the preaching moment, because one is actually stuffing away information for digesting later. But the point of the preaching is that we would digest truth in our seats, in the moment.
Perhaps the best policy for notetaking is "less is more". One helpful method could be a) record the main points for later reflection, b) be free to be in the moment and simply listen, c) record passages, thoughts and prayers that the Spirit brings to you. Let the Spirit take it from there.