Sermonary Review: A Revolutionary New Sermon Writing Tool

sermonary review: the new sermon writing, presenting, and storage tool

84% of pastors use a standard word processing application for sermon writing.

Sermonary is working to change that.

Sermonary is a new online tool launching today that promises to help pastors build their sermon more efficiently by writing, presenting, and storing their sermons on a single platform

After launching on kickstarter a few months ago, Sermonary was fully funded in two hours.

Intrigued by the sudden success, I was fortunate to get access early.

Here are my takeaways after playing with it for the last month.

Video Review:

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Cost:

$9 per month. But you can test drive it with a free trial today.

Positives:

+ Podium Mode

I have wanted a dedicated application built for sermon notes for a long time. Podium mode allows to turn your manuscript or outline into a distraction-free, non-editable view that you can use present on your tablet, phone, or other devices.

If you use sermon notes, this is very helpful.

+ Countdown Timer

When you go into podium mode, a clock sticks to the top of your notes. So as you scroll down your notes, the clock stays at the top of the screen.

Even better, you can set the clock to a countdown timer. Simply add your allotted preaching time, and it will count down until you need to wrap up the message.

This is something I have been wanting for years! I hate having to rely on my watch, a tech volunteer to hold up fingers to signal how many minutes I have left (or am already over time), or a timer app on my phone.

If you don’t use a timer for your preaching, your people will love it if you make the switch. It keeps you honest, and your sermons from droning on and on.

I only wish it would keep counting after the timer hits zero, and turn red to indicate how over your time you are speaking.

+ Simple to Organize Your Sermons

Organizing your sermons is easy. You can group them together in a series or create individual, stand-alone messages.

In the sermon editor, the block format makes it simple to click and drag to reorganize entire sections of your message.

This comes in handy for those times when you have a great illustration, but can’t decide if it fits best in the middle or the end of the message.

+ Sermon Templates

You can use their selections or create your own.

I love being able to customize my own template. It’s a huge time-saver. I write about this in my book.

I could see this being used for your general sermon template. You could also use it for creating templates for things like announcements, giving, or communion talks.

+ Illustration Library

Sermonary includes a growing sermon illustration library for free.

Free resources like this are always a plus.

+ Autosave

If you are working on your message and your computer battery dies or the internet goes down, your work is saved.

It’s an often overlooked, but life-saving feature.

Negatives:

– It Has Growing Pains

Sermonary is still a baby. There are a few bugs that I am certain that it will improve with more polish.

For example, I had a problem with being able to edit my series titles, but I told them about it, and it was fixed soon after.

I also encountered some bugs when adding sermon blocks. It occasionally froze and I had to refresh my window to go back instead of being able to close the options box. But as in the previous case, I’m confident that this will be fixed soon.

But as in the previous case, I’m confident that this will be fixed soon.

– Doesn’t Imported Bible Verses for You.

I know I’m being a little picky here, but you still have to copy and paste the text from a Bible verse like you probably already do in a word document.

It would be nice if Sermonary was able to automatically import the text for you from your favorite translation if you provide the address (like Logos does). It’s a huge time-saver.

To be fair, I talked to co-founder, Justin Trapp, and he said this is something they are looking into for the future.

So again, more good stuff will come in time.

– Only Web-Based

This could be a problem. If you don’t have internet access, or the internet goes down, you are dead in the water.

At the moment, Sermonary is only web-based. I wish there was an app for my tablet/phone that saved the files offline in case you don’t have internet access.

When I worked in a portable church, we met in a high school and didn’t have internet access. We tried some cell-phone hotspots, but even with that, the internet was spotty and unreliable. So the presentation mode would not work in that situation.

The only other option is to print a backup copy (which I always recommend anyway).

Again, one of the founders told me that they will consider an app in the future.

– Resources Are Still Being Added and Cost Extra

I’m interested to see what this will continue to look like. As of right now, Sermonary is creating their own resources.

At this point, if I use Sermonary for writing the message, saving my work, and holding my sermon notes, I would still use Logos for studying the text.

OVERALL:

The podium mode, countdown timer, and a dedicated place to store all of my sermons is what makes Sermonary most promising for me.

The concept is brilliant, and based on my experience and the proof from their kickstarter, there is a need for an application like Sermonary.

That being said, I don’t know if it’s ready for me to make it my primary sermon writer and notes application just yet. But as the bugs are inevitably fixed and features are added, I will definitely be keeping my eye on this one.

It’s so close to what I hope it can become, and I think it will be there soon.

If you are interested, you can start your free trial today at Sermonary.co.

What do you think? Have you tried it yet?


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By | 2017-09-12T20:50:39+00:00 September 12th, 2017|

5 Comments

  1. Frank 10/01/2017 at

    Well, the growing pains cost me a long night filled with having to re-write my sermon. I completed my sermon on Monday using Sermonary. Wonderful right?

    On Saturday evening, I go back in to Sermonary to make a few edits, spend about an hour doing so, clicked save and none of the edits took. Hmmm… I thought well that’s frustrating. Took another hour to re-do the edits, this time it updated my sermon, Great! Well, it was a disaster after that… since this was my first time using Sermonary… I wanted to make sure I felt comfortable with the different modes. I went to countdown mode then went back to regular mode without the countdown. Decided that I should make this a PDF and save it to my hard drive just in case. Didn’t really like the way it looked in PDF and the alignment was off, cutting off some of the words on the right side of the page. I then go back to try and re-print the Word format and to my SHOCK, my complete sermon had been deleted! I then spent the next 4 hours re-typing, cutting and pasting, and re-formatting my sermon in a Word document like I always do. Didn’t get to bed until 2am. Good bye, Sermonary this costs me more time and stress than I needed on a Saturday night. Plus I agree with everyone else, I loved the idea but until there is an offline option, this is now a deal breaker for me.

    By the way, I rarely ever write reviews on any product but this experience was painful for this very busy Pastor. I hope everyone else have a better experience.

  2. JL 09/14/2017 at

    I’m interested in this as well but it not being usable offline is a deal breaker for me too. I contacted sermonary thinking the more feedback they got the more likely they are to make changes. They told me that your sermon could be downloaded as a PDF and used offline. Have you tried this and if so how does it look?

    • Brandon Hilgemann 09/14/2017 at

      Yeah, from within Podium Mode, there is a Print button on the top right. You can click to print and save as a PDF file instead of printing. It looks just like the Podium mode.

  3. Mike English 09/13/2017 at

    I liked most of what you shared about this…that is until you said it was strictly web based. We have wifi and 90% of the time is is awesome. But now and then the announcements or something else gets messed up due to it losing connection. (We use apple TV to mirror the church iPad for announcements etc.) If and when there is an app for offline preaching mode I will invest in this, but not until then! Thanks for the review and I look forward to following Serminary in its growth.

    • Brandon Hilgemann 09/13/2017 at

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mike. I think that could be a deal breaker for a lot of pastors. I’ve worked in churches with good wifi, churches with none, and churches where it was unreliable.

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