The Importance of Logging, Filing, and Keeping Good RecordsJune 24, 2013
If I could offer any practical advice to young preachers starting out in the ministry it would be in the area of good record-keeping. I cannot stress how important it is to have a good filing system when it comes to notes, outlines, illustrations, and quotes.
The first few years of serving as pastor I outlined my messages with pen and paper and pretty much stuffed the notes in a folder on Sunday evenings. Half of the messages did not get in the folder, and half of the folders got thrown out. There was no organization, no categories, and no structure. It didn’t really bother me back then, but now looking back I wish I could remember some of those sermons, or at least some of the illustrations that I used to coincide with particular points.
Nowadays I catalogue everything. Everything I hear, see, and discern has potential of being logged.
As students of God’s Word, we are always reading, studying, and searching for nuggets of truth. I have found it beneficial to arrange and organize those “nuggets” so they can be easily accessed later on.
For example, I normally read 2-3 books at a time. Whenever I find something sound, solid, spiritual, and Scriptural I highlight that particular sentence or statement. After I finish reading the entire book, I go back through and “log” those quotes into a Quotes Database on my computer. I organize the quotes in alphabetical order according to their subject. For example, here is a quote from the book The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges…
“Contentment lies not in being first, but in being faithful to fulfill the function God has called us to in the body of Christ.”
I “catalogue” that statement under the subjects “Contentment” and “Faithfulness.” I literally have hundreds of quotes just underneath those two particular words. Whenever I prepare for a message on “Contentment” or “Faithfulness” I just might use one of the quotes in my sermon. With this method in place I log close to one hundred quotes per week.
Most preachers have some sort of system when it comes to their messages, but I submit to have various systems for quotes, illustrations, and stories as well.
Be a resourceful preacher, utilize and maximize your system to the benefit of your ministry, and share what you find with others.
With so much technology at our disposal, there is really no reason why we can’t maintain good records. You may not appreciate the system when you log it, but you certainly will when you go to look for it.