I recently tried out Sermonary for a few weeks. I love technology. There are so many ways that our lives can be easier if we could learn how to effectively implement tech into our lives. Proper sermon prep typically takes a lot of time. It’s also easy to loose your organization in the process.
Tablets and smart phones weren’t around when I began learning to preach. Paper was your best tool. Even a laptop seemed cumbersome to a traditional yellow pad. My typical sermon prep would begin in the library. I would drive to the local Christian University with my yellow pad and pen. Then I would go through their catalog and find everything that I felt might be relevant. Next I would find an empty table for me and the stack of books. Finally my work would begin. I would make copies (10 cents a piece) of anything I thought might be relevant and I would leave with my research. The rest of the week would be spent crafting the information into a digestible format for my audience to understand.
Later down the road I was introduced to some amazing resources on the computer. All kids of great software was being introduced (for a hefty price). Later many websites began giving us some amazing tools for cheap or free. These days it seems like I can find almost anything I need from the comfort of my desk. However, I still enjoy a good day at the library.
Keeping the research, prep, planning, sermons, and their format organized can still be a challenge. Then you have to convert all of that into a printable format or a format you can easily read from your tablet. The good news is that there are several options to help with all of that. One of those options is Sermonary.
I came across this in an online Wesleyan message board. I had a church camp that I was preparing for and decided it was the perfect time to try this new tool out.
Here are some good things about Sermonary. First, it keeps things separate. If you’re like me, you have several notes in your Google Docs and Evernote files. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to look at. Other times it can get distracting. I may go in looking for a note on a sermon and then I’ll see a note about my volunteers. Then I think, “I can take care of that real quick.” an hour later, I forget why I went in the labyrinth to begin with. Sermonary allows you to keep everything sermon related in one place and keep it free from all other distractions.
Another good feature is the structure of the site. Because it’s geared specifically for sermon prep it allows you to view sermons individually, by series, or you can simply look at the ideas that haven’t been finished yet. There are also side tabs for resources like commentaries and illustrations.
The layout for presenting your sermons is also really good. I’ve seen pastors get lost on their black and white, 12 point font, basic outlines or transcripts. Sermonary uses different labels, sizes, and colors to help your eyes easily follow the flow of the sermon when you’re presenting. There’s also a timer that you can put at the top. If you’re preaching from the tablet, it could be helpful.
The Not So Good
While there are many benefits, it’s not a perfect solution. I found that the outlines and illustrations seemed a little lacking. Many of the good resources, you have to purchase. This isn’t terrible, but you are already paying to use Sermonary.
Sermonary doesn’t really offer anything that you can’t get with any other note taking software. I like use Google Keep for simple notes and Evernote for more professional and detailed notes. I actually found myself reverting to some of these tools even in prepping with Sermonary. It just didn’t offer more.
I believe the biggest benefit to me was keeping everything separate. Having a separate system for my sermons was actually a really nice benefit. It just seemed less cluttered to me. At least in my mind. Having a good system that keeps everything seperate might actually be worth paying for.
The biggest problem for me is the price. For me, I could see paying around $20 for a year for something like this. Sermonary costs $20 per month. The convenience of keeping my sermons seperate isn’t worth that much money to me. You may feel differently.
It is a good product. They offer a 14 day trial for you to start. You may be able to find more use out of it than I was. It’s a solid system, simply not worth the price when compared to alternatives.