How To Take Sermon Notes on Sundays

How do you take sermon notes on Sundays?

Every Sunday, my husband and I worship in the pew beside my mother and father.  I take sermon notes on the back of my bulletin, while my mother writes in her spiral bound Steno notepad – a practice she has been doing since I was BORN! That’s 34 years. Don’t bother to try to read her writing (lol! No one in our family can read her writing!) – she writes very quickly in shorthand (shorthand is an abbreviated symbolic writing method that increases speed or brevity of writing as compared to a normal method of writing a language)

From time to time, she will reference past sermons – she remembers details I do not remember Lol!  She’ll get out her notepad and quote the pastor. I have sat in her Bible studies where she includes the pastor’s words as a part of her teaching. She not only worships on Sundays but she is focused and hungry to soak up God’s word and listens intently to the preachers words.

I asked my mom to write briefly about her notebooks and here’s what she said:

Prior to 1975, I wrote my sermon notes on the church bulletins using the front and back and often running out of space (as you can see below – she has saved her old bulletin notes). I realized that I needed a better note taking method. Beginning in 1975, I decided to use a steno pad for my notes. I had previously been a secretary and was familiar with shorthand so this was the perfect size notebook for me. It was also the same size as my Bible, making it easy to carry to church on Sundays.

I fill about one steno pad a year. The steno pads are dated by year, and sermon topics are written inside the cover. For example: April 4 – May 16, 2010, Pastor Butch Pursley spoke on the topic of “Heaven.” (that is noted on the cover) Because steno pads are slim, I can easily store all of them upright from 1975 to the present on one shelf in a cupboard. They actually take up very little space.

Some ask why I take notes. I like to take notes as the pastor is speaking because it helps me to focus my thoughts and keeps my mind from wandering. Also, I remember more of what is said if I write it down. I not only HEAR the message, but also SEE it written in my own hand. Whenever God uses a particular message to speak to my heart, I will often re-read through my notes, reflect on the passage, pray and make necessary applications to my life.

Because God has given me the privilege of leading women’s Bible studies, I refer back to my notes when preparing a lesson to refresh my memory of what I have learned in the past about a particular book or Biblical topic. Today we are blessed to have so many study tools available to us and many godly men and women who teach and equip the saints. This is just one of the methods I have found useful in helping me understand what the Bible says, what it means, and then apply or act on the truth that God has taught me through His Word

Thanks mom – you always inspire me…maybe it’s time I go buy a steno pad!!
Walk with the King!


  1. That's great!I loved seeing the notebooks by decade. Wow.

    Kory uses a notebook on Sunday mornings. We joke with him that it's like he's in college again, but really, it's something I totally admire about him..his eagerness to learn and apply God's word!!

    Thanks Bev for sharing!

  2. I loved reading your mom's wisdom this morning. She's a smart cookie!

    I've been keeping journals for 20 years. I use them for sermon notes, Bible study and prayer time so my struggles and growth are together in one place. And like your mom said, it definitely increases my attention span and retention levels. I need to start using your mom's idea for 'cataloguing' the journals – added major events and topics in the front cover of the journal.

    THANKS for sharing!

  3. Wow, is that woman organized! That's amazing! I too take notes in church. I have to. It really helps me concentrate on what's being said. Our pastor reserves a full page of the bulletin, blank, for us to take notes…but it's never enough. I'll often take a notebook too.

  4. I just have to write and tell you how much of a blessing your blog is to me! Each post is spiritually inspiring and filled with practical examples on developing a closer walk with the King! Thank you! Keep up the great work! 🙂 (Really appreciate your mom sharing, too! Amazing!)

  5. I take notes as well. Our senior minister usually has a fill-in-the-blanks outline and our associate minister usually has a blank page for notes. I also highlight verses in my bible and write the date and initials of who preached on certain verses. I love the steno pad idea. I may need to do that. I usually keep all our bulletins and put it in a large manilla envelope.

  6. I love this! THANK YOU! I write my service notes in a spiral notebook and save them, dated and detailed, like your mom. I reference them from time to time. I've always hoped that someday my children and grandchildren would cherish them as you do your mom's. Sweet!

  7. Wow! Love this! I take notes every Sunday, too, but I am not anywhere near this organized! I love the idea of writing down the topic of the sermon by date on the inside cover. I reference mine frequently. If I don't write it down, I feel like I lose a lot of what is said.

  8. I wish I could write shorthand lol
    Instead on some words, I use the txt words instead. I take notes every time my pastor preaches because I write a summary of the paragraph of his sermons on podcasts. So I always joke that I get my toes stepped on twice maybe even 3xs LOL

  9. That is an awesome heritage that she is leaving her family! Wow! All the way back to the 70's! God is so awesome! You are truly blessed to have a mom that is completely sold out to Jesus!
    Btw, I am a bulletin note taker but have been thinking I need to get a note book. This confirms it! Sunday I will have a notebook!

  10. I agree – I have to have a notebook to "keep track" of what the pastor says. I alos like to go back and review. I like to use the cute notebooks from Hobby Lobby – they are the wame size as my bible too – but add a little cuteness to my day♥

    Love your blog ♥

  11. So maybe I'm going against the grain here, but I have a hard time with taking notes during church. I find that it actually detracts from the worship and praise aspect of the service and makes it hard for me to absorb what is being said. I learned in college that I'm capable of writing down an entire lecture verbatim and not remembering any of it! So for me, it works better to absorb it through hearing it, then journal on it when I get home.

  12. I have used journals (I like spiral-bound the best) and steno pads to take sermon notes. Now I have a wide-margin Bible, and that's where I take lots of notes these days. I've begun carrying a journal to church again, though, because I like my Bible notes to be neat, and I found that I write all over the place in the margins. Maybe I should learn shorthand so I can write faster. My biggest problem is keeping up!

  13. What a cool posting! I have been taking sermon notes for probably around 5 years now but I'm not nearly as organized as your mom is! I have journals that I'll start writing in but maybe one day I'm in a hurry and can't find it so I'll grab a new one then I'll use it for awhile and find my old one and start using it. My poor family will have so many journals/notebooks to deal with after I die. I also take notes on every christian book I read so there are journals for those! LOL Like your mom, it helps me to stay focused and I remember things a lot better. Before I took notes I'd hear a great sermon but as soon as I walked out to my car I'd have forgotten all the key points!

  14. What a great post!

    I use the small-sized legal pad notebooks for my sermons notes. I also used to take notes on the bulletin (sometimes still do), but I like everything to be stuck together in a notebook so I don't lose it. Bulletins may be small in and of themselves, but when you get a bunch–they get rowdy! 🙂

  15. I feel like a kindred spirit with your mom. I'm a former secretary. I still find myself doing shorthand in the air. (Ask your mom she'll get it). And I LOVE steno pads too! God bless her and now I know I'm not crazy for using steno pads for sermon notes!

  16. Susan, I do the same thing with my Bible – I bought a very large Scofield Bible with the wide margins so I could take notes. When I first started my note taking years ago, I found that it didn't take long for me to accumulate a wealth of knowledge in all those papers and notebooks, but I NEVER went back and looked at them! So the wide margin was the answer for me. I have lots of room, and it's always nice to have those notes right there when you come across something.

  17. This story of your mom reminds me of the verse "He who is faithful over a few things I will make him ruler over much" . I also believe that as we write things down they become lodged in our memory (deeper). Taking notes reminds me of what God said to Joshua…This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
    I love this because it's almost as if He is saying "that you may observe with the intention of DOING. Taking notes with the right heart is a way for it to become a meditation for you later. So that you may observe with the intention of doing.

  18. Had to pop back by this post today… I was in CVS and so close to buying a spiral notebook 🙂 Mot of them had the spiral to the left side rather than the top though, and I'm a lefty, so that won't work.

    I think I'll peruse another store or two in search of the right one, and please let your sweet mama know that I love her idea!

  19. I remember learning shorthand in high school…it was actually a class offered! I always take notes and them write them in my journal at home. I love looking back at notes now and then:)

  20. Gray wisdom! I use to go to the Chapel when Knute LArson was the Pastor. What a wonderful ministry The Chapel has to Akronites! Thank you for reaching out through your blog.

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