The Sermon Starter Guide sits atop my list of favorite new features in Logos 5. Think of it as the Passage Guide but for preachers. The Sermon Starter Guide helps preachers combine middle steps study and sermon prep into one easy report. I say middle steps because preachers should never use this guide early in the study process. More on that later.
For people who haven’t used Logos before, think of the guides as a digital research assistant. I tell the guide to go look in my library for content related to a passage or a topic. For example, I preached this past week on 2 Timothy 1:8. I did a search on the passage and on the topics of fear, witness, evangelism and power.
Using the Sermon Starter Guide
Find the Sermon Starter Guide under the Guides menu.
Now uses the Sermon Starter Guide to do one of two kinds of supported searches – passage and topic searches. While entering a passage might help if the preacher doesn’t understand his passage yet, I think the best start comes from entering the passage’s primary topic. Preachers should wait to do this until after they’ve studied the passage using the word study tools and the Exegetical Guide in Logos. Once that’s done, then do a topic or passage search using the Sermon Starter Guide.
For example, I ran a report on 2 Tim. 1:8 below.
The list of included data in a default Sermon Starter Guide shows the following:
- Theme – shows themes from the chosen passage
- Thematic Outline – an outline of topics related to the above themes with example texts, great for surveying what the Bible says about the topics in a chosen passage
- Collections – searches the passage or topic in a predefined collection of works
- Media Resources – visual resources related to the passage or topic
- Commentaries – commentary entries about the passage
- Outlines – outlines from books related to the passage like commentary outlines or Bible handbooks
- Parallel Passages – cross references of the passage or topic
- Topics – topcis related to the passage with references
- Illustrations – sermon illustrations from illustration books
- GraceMedia.com – media from the site useful only to those who subscribe
- SermonAudio.com – audio sermons about this passage
- Sermons.Logos.com – same as previous but text-based from Logos’ sermons database
- SermonCentral.com – same as previous but from this site
Customizing Sermon Starter Guide
This guide works great, but not all of these entries work for everyone. That’s why I love that I can create a different set of default data sets using the Add button to include more along with the default. Also an X button shows up at the end of the list items to delete that particular guide data set. Click on the Sermon Guide menu in the upper left corner of the guide window and choose to Edit the content to make your own guide for future use.
From now on, run this edited version instead of the default version to get a sermon guide that helps you.
Good Exegesis by Doing Sermon Starter Guide Last
Before leaving this topic, let me suggest that you not jump on this Sermon Starter Guide at the beginning of your sermon prep. Do the basic exegesis of a passage by studying the words using an Inductive approach and then do word studies. The Exegetical Guide helps in this second step. Then stop and think about the ideas included in the passage and run your sermon guides on those topics first and then on the passage last. This workflow will help you become more biblical and not as tied to third-party tools.
To summarize, here’s how I’d use Logos in my sermon prep in order of steps from first to last.
- Find a passage using search tools – search topics first or just enter passage if you already know the reference of a passage you want to preach
- Delineate the passage by reading it repeatedly using the Passage Analysis Tool and the Pericope Set to show the first and last verse in passage sections according to editors of the various Bible translations
- Use the Text Comparison Tool to read the text over and over in different versions and consult the Passage Analysis Tool again to compare translations
- Do language study – some will translate from Greek or Hebrew while others will run Bible Word Studies on important words in the passage and/or using the Exegetical Guide and looking up words in dictionaries using the Power Lookup Tool
- Keep notes along the way using a note attached to a reference, not a translation
- Using the Sentence Diagram tool under Documents, create a structural diagram of the passage.
- Determine the topic or theme of the passage (I’m a Big Idea preacher from the Haddon Robinson school so I like to come up withe the Big Idea at this point)
- Search for these topics or themes using the Sermon Starter Guide reaching as much as needed in the various resources returned
- Collect media resources for presentation
- Come up with the outline of the text and translate that into an interesting contemporary preaching outline
- Use info from the Sermon Starter Guide where it fits by doing the four kinds of sermon development (explain ideas, illustrate them, prove them and apply them)
- Put it all together and then look over it to determine if the sermon points to the glory of God or instead pushes us to “do better” and fix it if it fits in the latter
I hope this helps you see where the Sermon Starter Guide fits in the sermon prep process.