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Discussion in 'Meditating on the Preached Word' started by Abeard, Jan 12, 2015.
Do you think taking notes during the sermon is a help or a distraction?
Although, I don't often refer to them, I take notes during the sermon because it helps keep me focused on what is being said.
A preacher wants to see the faces of his congregation not the crowns of their heads!
That is part of the rapport between the two, to my mind. If the word is coming red hot off the anvil,
then there is no time to weild the biro, the mind being fully engaged with the power of the truth. But
it depends on what kind of preacher is delivering. If the preacher delivers in a monotone then note taking
is necessary to concentrate on the content. There are sermons I can remember from fifty years ago because
delivered in the power of the Spirit. Indeed there was an occasion when a godly, godly Minister stopped in his
sermon and exhorted us young people to pocket our pencils,for he said, I want to see your faces if you have
understood this truth.
There is a saying that we have concerning preachers, "Buwch a llais, Buwch a llaeth." That is, a cow with a
voice, or a cow with milk. When the cow has milk you can drink it straight from the teat!
Taking notes is good for a lecture. The best sermons, however, rise above the level of a lecture and inspire hearers to put down their pens and just listen, except perhaps for the occasional note if the preacher says something you want to reference later.
This is not completely germane to the OP but I have my 6 and 8 year-old daughters take notes primarily for the purpose of teaching them how to listen to a sermon (and to make sure they pay attention).
I wouldn't take notes as such but would always take a pen to jot down say a memorable quote or a specific point.
I'll make a quick note in my Bible, especially if some difficulty in translation is mentioned or a particularly clarifying cross-reference that I don't already have. What I find extremely helpful is to go back and listen later to make careful notes -- our pastor is an excellent exegete.
Im hopeless at multi tasking and would miss what is being said as I was writing something down and concentrating on what I was writing for sure. I take it in better listening.
Some can do both, I take my hat off to those who can.
I typically provide a basic outline of the major points of the sermon, with 2 drafts available (ie, an option): one is simply the points made in sentence format. The other has the identical sentences, but with blanks which may be filled in by the listener.
In our church it's about 50/50 as to which ones are chosen...and about half of our people don't use them at all... Maybe it's my classroom background, but I want to give people the option to listen in whatever way is most natural/helpful for them. I don't push them on people, but on the weeks that I haven't provided them I have lots of questions to answer!
Pretty sure a hard rule cannot be made for or against it. It's very much a matter of preference and opinion. I take notes during the sermon. Helps me focus, pray through the material during the week. I refer back to it. When I have opportunities to preach, I actually appreciate it when I see people taking notes as it shows engagement.
I take notes. Well not of the whole sermon just the important parts. References. or if something is new to me. Then im like the noble Bereans.
I go home and study what was said to make sure its right and to memorize that Truth. Get commentary on it etc.
(Acts 17:11 (King James Bible These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and
searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.)
Some topics are like maths to me. I need to listen more and write less. (Im not very good in maths.) ;-)
I take notes, especially about translation differences, cross-references, connections between OT/NT, etc. Because I take them within the text (either in a wide-margin Bible or the ESV app), the notes are a good reference the next time I read the passage.
I have no problem with someone taking notes. It at least lets me know that I said something they want to chew on.
I take notes in outline form and refer to them Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. I will call the Pastor with any questions. I have been doing this for years.
I provide both an outline, and the complete text of the sermon. I don't encourage people to read the sermon while I preach, though, as that can sometimes encourage less attentive listening. I prefer when people take notes on the outline provided, and then take home the sermon to refresh their minds on it during Sunday afternoon. I very much agree that there is no one size fits all on this topic. For some people, it will help them follow the train of thought. For some preachers, however, there is no train of thought, or it got derailed somewhere during rabbit trail number 15 (usually much sooner with that many rabbit trails).
It never ceases to amaze me how dogmatic some people are about this sort of thing. It is a bit like people complaining about ministers who just read their sermons and don't look up that often. Perhaps I am missing something, but what is the big deal? When I go to a service, I want to hear a sermon, but I do not need to be constantly making eye-contact with the speaker. If a man's ability of deliver a good sermon is imperilled by always having to look-up from his notes, then why look up? As for taking notes, if you find it useful then do it. If not, then don't do it.
My thoughts exactly, Daniel.
Seeing as our church meets on a dairy farm I like your "Buwch a llais, Buwch a llaeth" quote.
I take notes during the sermon. There are no handouts, and the message/point is often difficult to follow. I appreciate that some ministers may like to see the faces of the congregation, but I haven't found that my sitting there with a bewildered expression on my face does any good.
This is probably anecdotal, but the most memorable sermons I have heard did not include taking notes.
I don't often do it, but Prof Jung in her, Godly Conversation: rediscovering the Puritan practice of conference, documents from original sources that the Puritans regularly and widely practiced taking notes and both used them for personal edification as well as "in conference" with others, whether family, neighbors, or fellow church members, so as to delve deeper into the Scriptures and the sermon message. These folks had spiritual lives, and spiritual communities, that make many of ours look pale. Her book on these things is a real gem, both historically and devotionally, and we would do well to seek to emulate some of the practices of the Puritans.
I am experimenting with the note-taking to see if it is a help. I have rarely done it in the past, save when exceptional things are said, or Scriptures that I want to follow up on later. It sort of distracts me from being fully attentive to the sermon.
Whichever helps you remember the sermon and apply it to yourself is what you should do.