Writing, Transcribing and Archiving Your Sermons

This is part 3 of the Increase Your Sermon’s Lifespan series. In the last post for this series I discussed how to record your sermon.

Recording your sermon is the most important thing you can do to extend its life. However, if recording your sermon (video and audio) is the most important thing, having digital text is a very close second.

German old type model for painters

Photo Credit: Sylvain Mazas cc

Although audio and video are on the rise, text is still the most popular form of learning, transmitting, and storing information.

Having you message written digitally will resource every idea coming up in this series that does not deal with video or audio.

3 ways to write down your sermon:

1) Manuscript

When you are preparing your sermon, write it out in a word for word manuscript. Having a full manuscript of your message saved will allow you to do so much more with it. You will be able to either use the entire message or copy and paste portions of it for whatever you wish.

2) Outline

If you preach from an outline, you can use this too. Even if you write a manuscript and then create an outline for your notes or for the congregation to fill in, hang on to it. It could prove very useful.

I don’t recommend only keeping an outline. But if you don’t write a full manuscript, don’t worry. There is always the third option.

3) Transcript

A transcript is a written recording of everything you said from stage. Honestly, nobody actually says everything they prepared to say no more or no less, unless they read their manuscript word for word.

In fact, sometimes the best moments of a sermon are the things that pop into your head to say on the spot. You didn’t plan to say it, but the Holy Spirit had other plans. So a transcript of what was actually said can be incredibly helpful to capture these moments.

4 ways to transcribe a message:

  1. Do it yourself. Although you could probably do a great job, I don’t recommend this. You have enough on your plate to do. This is your worst option.
  2. Recruit a volunteer. Ask them to listen to your sermon and type it out word for word. Make sure to give them some guidelines on how you like them to format it. Otherwise, you will be stuck reformatting it.
  3. Assign a staff member. Maybe ask the church secretary or an administrative assistant to do it. As mentioned above, make sure to give them formatting guidelines up front to save time.
  4. Outsource it. Save time and pay a transcription company like speechpad.com to do the work for around $1 per minute. Another option would be to look at a website like fivver.com, where people are willing to do all sorts of different things for only $5. Just know that the quality of work and time to finish the task will vary based on the individual. Find somebody who does good work and stick with them.


Once you have the sermon written, how you choose to archive your sermons is critical. You can use file folders on your computer if you want, but you better back it up. If your computer crashes, you don’t want lost years of  writing. If you choose to go this route, back everything up with a free cloud storage service like Dropbox.

In addition, you need to make sure you have a system so you can easily dig through your old message files and find exactly what you are looking for. This can be hard to do with file folders.

That is why I highly recommend storing every message in Evernote. Evernote is a cloud note storage system that you can access anywhere online, on your computer, table or smartphone.

You can add tags to messages for different topics (marriage, giving, faith, etc.), or sort by the date preached. You can also search all of your messages for any specific phrase you are looking for. This is a huge time saver.You won’t have to read through each individual document anymore to find what you are looking for.

Also, you don’t have to worry about backing up your database. It is all stored on the Evernote servers. So if you computer crashes and your smartphone dies, no worries. It is all safe in the cloud.

I personally have a folder in Evernote containing every sermon that I have ever preached, dating all the way back to my freshmen year in Bible college. (Read more about how I use Evernote here.)

Being able to pull up the content I have already written in a quick search has been invaluable for me. You will see why in the next posts in this series.

These first few posts have dealt with digitally capturing sermons. The rest of the series will now show you what you can do with it.

Other posts in the Increase Your Sermon’s Lifespan series:


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By | 2017-01-04T00:15:47+00:00 March 25th, 2013|