Logos Bible Software Sermon Prep Part One: Choosing a Topic to Preach
How do you use Logos Bible Software to find a good topic to preach or teach? In this first of two parts, we’ll look at how to find a passage or topic to preach and we’ll use Logos Bible Software to make that happen. This is the first step in preparing a sermon or Bible study using Logos Bible Software. Over next few weeks we’ll cover the major steps to preparing and preaching using Logos.
Now, Logos Bible Software has a bunch of built-in tools that will help you use a topic to find a passage or multiple passages to then preach or teach. In this tutorial we’ll use the topic of redemption and use things like the Bible Word Study tool, the Sermon Starter Guide, and other tools to get inspiration for your sermon.
We’ve got a couple of ways you can learn this first step. You can read the article below. You can watch this video, or better, do both. Either way, Logos Bible Software gives a number of launch boards for the sermon preparation process.
Before we jump in, let’s look at the three primary approaches to preaching.
Topical Preaching – If you’re a topical preacher, then you often start by looking saying, “I want top reach on redemption.” Usually it’s more narrow than such a broad topic. Logos can help you in a few ways to get inspired to preach on a topic and in this first part we’ll show users how to start finding inspiration for a sermon a topic.
Textual Topical Preaching – Textual Topical preachers often begin with the topic in mind, but then use that to search for a specific passage of scripture to preach and then approach the sermon preparation in a textual way letting the text drive the content.
Expository Preaching – Expository preachers start with the text, often working their way through portions of scriptures, like a book of the Bible or a passage like the Sermon on the Mount or the Psalms of Ascents. We’ll approach that in part two.
Here’s what’s great about using Logos to find your sermon’s topic.
How to Use Logos Bible Software to Find a Topic or Passage to Preach or Teach
Logos Bible Software lets preachers jump into their search from many starting places. The easiest sits on top of the Logos Home page. Click the Home button in the upper left corner, if it’s not already showing. Then use the Command box that sits about a third of the way to the right from the Home button. Type the topic you’re interested in here and it will run a Bible Word Study on that word. We’ll use the topic, “Redemption“. That link opens the Bible Word Study Guide in Logos on a computer.
Bible Word Study Guide
You can also run the Bible Word Study by clicking on the Guides button on the toolbar. Then choose Bible Word Study from the left hand column in the box the pops up.
The Bible Word Study Guide will offer a few categories of searches. First, we see the title section explained above. shows your word and lets you enter a Title and some notes about the guide. Each guide in Logos has a title section. Give our search a title to save it. You might want to come back to this search, especially if you use the Notes feature under each section of the guide to save some of your discoveries or inspiration.
Now, we get the Topic section next. It shows links to the topic you searched in various dictionaries, like the Lexham Theological Workbook (link opens Logos if you’re on your computer).
If you have enough dictionaries, you’ll see a “more” link below the list. Click it to see the rest of the books with the topic included. Hover over the links to see a preview pop-up of that entry. Click it to open the book.
Below the list of books you’ll see a link to open the Topic Guide and the Sermon Starter Guide. If you click either of these links, Logos will perform a search using that guide. More on that below.
Don’t just quit after the “Topic” section. There are two sections focused on Hebrew and then Greek word studies. These will help us find the Hebrew and Greek words translated redemption or redeem or something similar. Each section has a graph showing the various words for our topic in Hebrew or Greek. Click on the graph to see the verses or over each section. You can then see a preview pop-up of that verse when you over the verse.
If you preach topically or use the textual topical approach, then you might choose to include one of these verses in the sermon. If so, you’ve already gleaned what you need. However, the rest of the Bible Word Study Guide might still inspire you to preach on that topic. Scroll down to see the last three sections included in the guide.
Phrases – shows the topic if it’s part of a phrase, like “grace of God” if you’re searching for grace.
Lemma in Passage – shows the lemma of a word in commentaries. There’s a drop-down list labelled “Settings” that will let you narrow this search to certain collections or books.
Textual Searches – find the topic in your top Bibles. The list comes from the Bibles prioritized in the Logos library. Logos shows you how to do that.
If you search using a Greek or Hebrew word you’ll see a lot of other sections, but for our purpose, we’re focusing on finding a topic to preach. Most people will do that by searching in English, so we’ll skip Greek or Hebrew words.
Sermon Starter Guide
Another guide will help with topic discovery. The Sermon Starter Guide works like the Bible Word Study Guide, but looks in different parts of your library. It focuses on sermon-related resources. It’s probably a better place to start than the Bible Word Study Guide.
Run the Sermon Starter Guide from the Guides menu. Type the word in the search box and it returns a list of links. Here’s what you’ll find in the guide. Again we’ll run one for “redemption” which you can open in Logos on your computer by clicking this link. Again we have the title section as explained above.
Theme – The Theme section that shows a brief definition of the topic and links to open the Logos Factbook and a Topic Guide search. Make sure to open the Factbook and learn more about your topic there. This is a great tool for using the topical approach to sermon or Bible study preparation.
Passages – we get a sampling of “Key Passages” which cover the topic that you searched for. There are also “Pericopes” listed. Below that you can add these passages to a Passage List or open every one of the passages found.
Sermons – If your library includes books of sermons, they’ll show up here. Read some sermons to get inspired. I personally would avoid this section at this point. Do your own study first before reading what other preachers preached about your topic.
Preaching Resources – You’ll mostly find sermon illustrations in this list or sermons. You’ll also find some outlines and hymns.
Sermon Outlines – If your library includes some sermon outline books, then they’ll show up here.
Thematic Outlines – For topical preachers, this section might offer the most help. More on it below.
Journals – Find Journal articles on your topic, which can be helpful in learning more about it, often from. scholarly level.
Collections – Searches your Collections, which include books that you put together, like Romans Commentaries. Find out more about them from the Logos training pages. This section’s not as helpful for our purpose.
Interactives – Interactive tools like the Psalms Explorer.
Media Resources & Media Collections – Find images related to the topic.
Soundfaith, Faithlife Music, Bookstore and Lightstock – all sections that take you to resources you can buy related to the topic.
Take a close look at the Thematic Outlines section of the Sermon Starter Guide. If you’re preparing a topical outline for a sermon, then this section might do a lot of the work for you. You’ll still need to study the passages included in these outlines, but this section alone could give you your outlines.
Take our topic redemption. The Thematic Outlines section offers a few subtopics. We get a list of passages about “God as Redeemer” with a synopsis of the topic first. Then a few more subtopics about that subtopic like “God as the sole redeemer of Israel” and “God redeems his people from difficult personal circumstances” to name two. Each has some passages of scripture. Hover over each passage to view a pop up in your top Bible or click to open the top Bible.
The Topic Guide (click here to run one on Redemption) is another great place to start looking for inspiration to preach a particular topic. Open it from the Guides menu and enter your search in the box. Here’s what Logos includes in the Topic Guide. At the top you get the title section where you can save this Guide for future use. Put an explanation of the guide and each section has a Notes section to keep notes.
Topic – This section lists links to the topic in dictionaries. Click “more” to see the entire list. You also see a link to the Facebook, Sermon Starter Guide, Bible Sense Lexicon and links to search the library for words related tot your topic.
Related Verses – Finds verses about the topic.
Sermons, Illustrations, Illustrations, Interactives, Media Collections Sections – like the Sermon Starter Guide finds things in each of those kinds of resources related to our topic.
Atlas – finds things in atlas for our topic.
Biblical People, Places, Things and Events Sections – These tools are like a search for each of these kinds of information with visuals and books that tell us about them.
Soundfaith – online sermon database of audio.
Topics.Logos.com – opens links to the online Logos resource related to our topic.
Bookstore and Lightstock – links to buy content related to our topic.
Like the Sermon Starter Guide, the Topic Guide might offer the best options for our purpose. However, since we’ve covered most of these sections above, we won’t rehash them here.
Create Your Own Personal Guide
These guides offer a lot for a user, but you know what you want to search for. So, create your own personal guide for searching Logos for a topic. To do this, click on the Guides menu (#1 below) and choose “Make a new guide template” at the bottom of the list and then click the drop down list on the right (see #2 below). The four options will change the list of sections to include that we see along the left side of the screen (see #3 below). It begins with the list of sections already in the pre-defined guides give to us by Logos. So, if you’re searching for a topic, you’ll probably want to select Preaching Theme or Topic. The Preaching Theme template has more sections, so click that to get started.
Here’s what I’d include in my own personal topic search guide.
Don’t forget to give your guide a title in the upper left corner. Click the box with the tiny pencil icon (see above). Now it will show up in the Guides menu.
Logos Bible Software Tools for Topical Preaching
By now you probably have a lot to get started with. However, a few other tools will also help. You’ll find these in the Logos Bible Software Tools Menu.
Bible Browser – a few of the tools found in the Bible Browser will help.
People, Places, Things and Events – great for finding passages about a person in the Bible if you want to preach on Disciples doing character studies or some other person-focused study or sermon. You could also do a study of a place or objects as jumping off points for a series on something like the Temple.
Miracles or Parables – a great source for a series on either.
Preaching Themes – we found this in the Sermon Starter Guide and I put it in my Personal Topic Guide.
Topics – of course perfect if we’re looking for topics to preach.
Sacrifices – study on the various sacrifices in the Old Testament.
Factbook – we found this mentioned above.
Interactives – Logos includes a bunch of interactive tools and click this link with Logos on the computer and it will open to them.
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.