Is it weird that I started footnoting my sermons?

I recently changed the way I’m writing sermons. For one, I’ve started writing a manuscript. After preaching with little more than an outline for over a decade, it’s been an interesting shift… but that’s the subject of another post. The shift I’m talking about here goes even further than that.

Right now, I’m a student at Reformed Baptist Seminary. I love it – I’m growing, learning, and being stretched. But one of the things that’s required is writing papers. Lots of them. And after almost a decade between college and seminary, I’m realizing how much I stink at academic writing. I’ve blogged, prepared sermons, written a few articles, etc. over the years – but this is different. Thoughtful, logical, extended writing. It’s a very different style that I’m trying to learn.

And the other day it hit me… manuscripting a sermon is a lot like writing a paper. And so I’ve started to writing my sermon manuscripts with Turabian formatting. Seriously. There’s a cover page, a table of contents (which actually serves as a bare bones outline), and a works cited section. Each main point gets a first level heading, each sub-point gets a second level heading. When I quote someone, reference the original language, or borrow a thought from a book – it gets a footnote now.

Now, I won’t preach from that. I format it down using a template I’ve put together – sized perfectly for the iPad, .25″ margins, 18 point font, each sentence beginning a new line.

But for having a record and more formal copy of the manuscript, I am now a Turabian sermon writer. This is either really awesome or makes me the biggest nerd in the world - I haven’t decided which yet. Maybe both?


  1. I’m a fan… nerd.

    What app are you using for your iPad template?

    Say more about your experience with the manuscript. I can’t picture myself doing that but am curious.

  2. Matthew – I’ll write more about manuscript preaching soon. It’s been a stretching, challenging experience for me – but overall very good.

    I put together the notes I take to the pulpit with me in Word (custom size document: 5.75″ x 7.75″ with .25″ margins, 18 point font). Then I save it as a PDF, open it in Dropbox on the iPad, and then put it in iBooks (because I like the ability to tap/flick pages rather than scroll up and down.)

  3. I am currently an on-line seminary student at Liberty University. I think this is a practice that I need to adopt. Mainly, because I have always written papers in AMA style and am having a very difficult time adapting to Turabian. Using it with sermon manuscripts is a great way to practice outside of the normal seminary work.

    Also, I think this brings credibility to you as a pastor. Pastor’s are known for “gleaning” from other pastors and authors. It is high time that all pastors be called into accountability for this practice. Thank you for leading the charge in formally documenting your sources in your sermons!

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