The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method
Watch Overview

The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method

This guide has everything you need to know about The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method for churches.

This strategy will increase congregation attention during your pastor’s message.

And it will also boost retention of what’s being taught.

Bottom line:

If you want the people in your church to get the most out of your weekly sermon, you’ll love this guide.

The average attention span when listening to a sermon is just 5-10 minutes.

Here’s the deal:

Attention spans are pretty small.

How small? When it comes to listening to speeches – or in the case of our churches, listening to sermons – the average attention span is estimated to be around 5-10 minutes.1

Meanwhile, the average sermon length is about 30-45 minutes.

Why does this matter?

It matters because the goal of our sermons is for our congregation to hear them, not to simply sit through them.

I want my church to absorb what is being said and then actively live it out.

But this cannot happen if we can’t first overcome the short attention span of the human brain.

What can we do about this?

Simply stated, my preferred approach is to invite listeners into the learning and listening process while speaking.

I want my church’s pews to be full of active participants – rather than passive spectators.

Here’s how we can accomplish this…

Nucleus sermon notes example

The Magic Of Note-Taking

One way to sidestep a short attention span is with note-taking.

Note-taking is especially helpful because it leads to active listening – and it also leads to better retention of the material being discussed.

Researchers found that people who adopted a note-taking strategy demonstrated higher levels of listening comprehension.

Research has shown that retention of information decreases over time. In one study, participants on average were able to recall 50% of an important lecture after one day, 35% after a week, and just 20% after two weeks.2

However, researchers found that people who adopted a note-taking strategy demonstrated higher levels of listening comprehension.

How can you actually use this?

Allow me to introduce you to The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method.

This strategy is designed to boost attention amongst your congregation while increasing retention of the information being taught.

The True Cost Of Bulletins

The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method begins with a simple sermon outline or series of notes for your message.

Perhaps your church is already doing something like this.

For years, churches have been printing bulletins with sermon outlines on them with spaces to add notes.

But here’s the thing:

Printing bulletins can be surprisingly expensive.

In a survey we conducted of more than one hundred churches, the average cost of a printed bulletin added up to more than fifteen cents each.

Some of the churches included in the survey were paying print shops to create bulletins for them, while others had their own printers and had to estimate costs based on toner, paper supplies, and printer maintenance.

But using that rough number as a baseline – consider this:

If you’re a church of just 100 people and you print 100 bulletins each week at a cost of fifteen cents each…that works out to a full $65 each month.

That doesn’t even consider the assembly, folding, and distribution time of bulletins. Not to mention that sinking feeling you experience upon seeing another bulletin abandoned or left in the trash unused.

The Cost Of Printing Bulletins For A Church Of 100

100 bulletins x $0.15 per bulletin x 4.3 weeks = $65 per month

Bottom line:

Factoring in the cost, I’m not a fan of distributing sermon notes via the bulletin.

Why?

Simply put, I believe there’s a more useful and cost-effective option that also doesn’t result in as much waste.

Keep reading…

The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method

The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method consists of three parts:

  • Part #1: A sermon outline delivered digitally online
  • Part #2: The ability for listeners of the sermon to add their own notes while listening to the message
  • Part #3: The ability for listeners of the sermon to export their notes to save for later
Sermon Notes – Part #1

The first part of The “Fill-In” Sermon Notes Method is creating a weekly sermon outline and distributing it digitally online.

Looking for an example of this strategy in action? Look no further than Church on the Move.

Church on the Move distributes their weekly message notes using their website: cotm.info

Visit cotm.info and you’ll find a tab titled ‘Latest Message.’ Expand this tab and you’ll see a full sermon outline for Church on the Move’s most recent weekend message – along with the ability to add your own notes and export your notes via email.

Church on the Move sermon notes example

SIDE NOTE: Take note that this strategy does not use a downloadable mobile app to distribute message notes - but instead, a simple website URL. 

Here's why...

I don't want anything standing in the way of your church taking notes during the message. And while it may not seem like it, downloading an app is a pretty big barrier.

Consider this: according to comScore's most recent report on mobile devices, the majority of smartphone users download ZERO new apps per month.

Moreover, what about new visitors to your church?

I don't want a new visitor to be sitting in your service, scouring the app store trying to find the right app, then waiting for the app to download in the middle of service, taking up a ton of space on their phone, then by the time they're finally ready to go the sermon has already begun, they've fallen behind, and they just give up.

Rather than ask your church to jump through unnecessary hoops to access your weekly sermon notes, simply give them a single URL that anyone can access from any device [Example: cotm.info].
Sermon Notes – Part #2

It only gets better from here…

Because now that our congregation has access to our weekly sermon notes, it’s time to also give them the power to add their own notes along the way.

To show you how this works, let’s look at another example. This example is from hopechurch.xyz.

Here, you’ll find the sermon outline broken into sections. And within each section is a link that reads, “Add Notes.”

Sermon notes feature

Click on the “Add Notes” link and a text box will open. From here, a user can type in their own thoughts and takeaways.

I personally like to include an “Add Notes” link with each major section of the message notes – that way a user can follow along and record their own thoughts and notes as the message progresses and moves forward.

Sermon notes "add note" feature

But you’re probably wondering:

“How can I create a page likes this?”

To make a point, the hopechurch.xyz message notes page was built using a tool called Nucleus.

Nucleus is a new kind of church website builder that we created and one of the features included with Nucleus is message notes – the ability to create a sermon outline for your church with fillable message notes.

To make this as easy as possible for you, we even have a single-click template inside Nucleus specifically for sermon notes. All you need to do is click a button and you’ll have an entire sermon notes page created instantly.

Sermon notes single-click template

30 DAY FREE TRIAL: Ready to give Nucleus a try? We offer a 30 day free trial with no credit card required. Click here to get started with Nucleus for free!

Part #3

That’s not all though…because the third and final part needed to complete The ‘Fill-In’ Sermon Notes Method is the ability for your church to export their notes to save for later.

Here’s how this works…

At the bottom of our ‘Latest Message’ page at hopechurch.xyz, you’ll see a section with the title ‘Email My Notes.’

Here you have the choice to export only the notes you have taken yourself or both your notes plus the original message notes also [shown below].

Email my sermon notes

The process itself is very simple.

Simply enter your email address, click ‘Send’, and you’ll receive an email instantly with your message notes inside.

No More Forgotten Sermons

Imagine lovingly prepping a sermon each and every week only to have it soon forgotten by the people listening.

This doesn’t need to happen! 

The ‘Fill-In’ Sermon Notes Method in three simple parts.

  • Part #1: A sermon outline delivered digitally online
  • Part #2: The ability for listeners of the sermon to add their own notes while listening to the message
  • Part #3: The ability for listeners of the sermon to export their notes to save for later

This strategy can turn passive spectators into active participants.

And here’s the kicker:

Creating a page like this doesn’t need to be difficult. By using the Nucleus church website builder, you can create an entire sermon notes page with just the click of a button using the single-click template.

Try Nucleus for free (no credit card required) by clicking the link below!

30 DAY FREE TRIAL: Ready to give Nucleus a try? We offer a 30 day free trial with no credit card required. Click here to get started with Nucleus for free!