Do you take notes?

Do you take notes when someone is teaching you the scriptures? If you do, chances are you retain more than those who do not. In fact, I believe 90% of people who do not take notes on Sunday morning forget everything they have heard by Wednesday morning. If my calculations are correct, Sunday morning was mostly a waste of time for those who did not bother to write something down.

Jesus told us this would happen in Luke 8 when he described the four types of soil that represent the common conditions of the human heart.  The path, the rock, the thorns and the good soil are all mentioned. The seeds that fell on the good soil are the only ones that produced a lasting harvest. Notice what is said in verse 15.

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a good crop.”

Luke did not underline the two words above, but they certainly jumped off the page at me recently. The Message Bible says “who seize the word and hold on no matter what.” I have heard some amazing insight that I have not written down and I am certain I have forgotten most of it. Good seed had been sown, but I did not seize it and hold on no matter what.  What can we all do to make sure the seeds that are being sown fall on the good soil of our hearts and produce a crop?

1. Write down two or three big ideas from every teaching you hear and have a conversation with someone about them within 48 hours.

2. If you use your iphone to take notes, like I sometimes do, don’t check your email or text someone during the talk. Take notes only and do not play paper toss. 🙂

3. If you are speaking and the big ideas are not evident, then use simpler language and better illustrations to make them clear to everyone.

4. If you have access to decent AV equipment, put the big ideas on the screen long enough for everyone to write them down.

5. Hand out notes to people before the talk and have pens or pencils available. Even if you hand out blank sheets of paper, you are encouraging people to take notes.

The word disciple means “learner” and learners take notes. Even if we do not agree with what is said, at least the talk will spark some interesting conversation that might lead us to deeper truth. Let’s not sit in the crowd with our arms folded assuming that we will remember everything that is being said. Let’s hear the word, retain the word and by persevering produce a good crop.

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  1. Taking notes is something I’ve done for years during sermons. What I have found recently is that going back to those notes weeks or even months later and studying them during my quiet time helps me to not only retain it, but to also take better notes. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I grew up in an independent fundlemental baptist church. My pastor stood behind the pulpit and never moved! I struggled with not falling asleep during the sermon. I started note taking so I could stay awake. That was the best thing I did as a young teen. I have kept up with note taking ever since. Also, I seem to remember everything I need to get done in the middle of church. Having that notepad allows me to jot a quick note so I can them return my focus to the message. I do the same thing during quite time.

  3. Taking notes distracts me from hearing, understanding, assessing and applying what the speaker is saying to my life. For me, note taking shifts the focus from receiving the word to trying to write it all down. I don’t doubt that note taking helps some people, but for me it is a distraction.

  4. I really appreciate that you call the kettle black. Ouch. Guess I’ll go buy a notebook…
    Dean almost always takes notes. And he remembers everything. Point noted.


  6. Good point! I learned note taking from my last Pastor who would pepper the sermon with suggestions of taking notes. After service he would say hi to us in the hall and ask what we got out of the sermon or what our favorite point of the sermon was. Alot of people stood there dumbfounded because they could not remember what was taught or caught. Pastor Brady, your sermons are very interesting and the keynotes are ‘key’. I’ve learned my own short hand to make note taking easier. If I missed something I get the CD and relisten, adding to my notes. Those who are hungry for the Word and wisdom take good notes.

  7. Pastor Brady,

    Just a thought about note taking. In your New Life Next classes, give all the participants a notebook the size of the notetakers available on Sunday morning. (I realize you already provide a notebook, but it is a 8×11.5 size notebook. Too big for Sunday morning). Have someone punch holes in the notetakers for Sunday morning so we can keep your notes. Then encourage all new members in your New Life Next class to get in the habit of taking notes.

    Thanks for all you do for us. You are a blessing.

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