3 Tips for Cataloging Your Sermons

pastor at his desk with laptop preparing a Christmas sermon

If you’re anything like me, you might need help cataloging your sermons.

Why you should consider cataloging your sermons

I recently guest-taught a four-part series. Given a short turnaround time and other commitments, I needed to draw from past sermons. 

The problem? My sermons were everywhere. 

Some were hiding in the deep recesses of my external hard drive. Others were lodged in my Sent folder. One never even made it there—I found it as a half-finished draft that I must’ve printed and finished on paper. 

One thing was certain: I needed a better system for organizing my sermons.

With the many demands of ministry, sermon archiving may seem unimportant. But it’s essential. It rescues your work from the dust and extends the life of your sermons—so you can continue to bless God’s people with them.

Here are three ways to organize your sermon archives—and how Faithlife Sermons can help you do it. 

1. Keep your sermons in one place.

This is the bare minimum of sermon organization. Learn from my mistakes: If you keep your sermons in three different places, you triple your time spent searching. You also risk losing track of sermons. 

Why not carve out 15 minutes a week to start cataloging your sermons all in one place? Who knows, you might be able to do it in just 10 minutes. 

Faithlife Sermons has a batch upload feature that makes this task simple. With a few clicks, you can gather your sermon transcripts and audio into one place, and then access them online anytime. 

2. Tag your sermons consistently.

It’s one thing to store a sermon. It’s another thing to make it easy to find. 

When I was searching for my sermons the other week, I had to rack my brain to remember very specific terms I used, as my general searches weren’t helping. I remember a graveyard illustration, so let me search “graveyard …” 

But because I was searching my whole computer and email archives, I had to sift through dozens of documents that weren’t even sermons. It was time-consuming. 

With Faithlife Sermons, I don’t have to rummage for anything. It’s a highly searchable database of just sermons. With separate fields for Bible passages, topics, tags (e.g., “graveyard,” “men’s retreat”), and sermon summaries, I can catalog my work to the finest detail. So I can find my Ephesians 2 sermon from the men’s retreat in seconds—not hours. 

3. Track your illustrations.

Organizing sermon illustrations may be even more difficult than organizing sermons. For one, you never know when one will come your way. Second, you’re not sure when you’ll end up using it. You just know it has potential. 

The key is to “catch” the illustration, mark its themes, and store it somewhere accessible. 

With Faithlife Sermons, you can tag an illustration in all the same ways you tag a sermon. And you can upload them in any form—image, audio, link, or plain text. And all the illustrations stay in one database. 

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The power of cataloging your sermons

The fruit of this organization is more efficient sermon prep—or even the rough draft of a book. 

For example, let’s say you’ve preached through several books of the Bible, and in doing so have amassed several sermons on prayer. You’ve also kept track of some good sermon illustrations on prayer over the years. With a simple search, you can find all the sermons you’ve preached on the topic, plus matching illustrations. You’re well on your way to a topical series on prayer, and you didn’t have to start from scratch. 

That’s just one example of the power of organizing your sermon archive. Get organized today. Start a free one-month trial at Faithlife Sermons

Written by
Matthew Boffey

Matthew Boffey (MDiv, Trinity International University) is the pastor of worship at Christ Church Bellingham. He is also editor-in-chief of Ministry Team magazine, has edited several books, and has written for several blogs and publications, including Relevant online, the Logos blog, and the Faithlife blog.

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Written by Matthew Boffey
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