That Sunday Morning My Sermon Notes Disappeared

While my notes were lost, he was not. In my weakness God is strong.

“Just a word to other guys who use their iPad. Check to make sure you have your notes before you leave your house or at least before the service starts. This point goes back to the assumptions and false security of technology. If we’re using technology then anticipate something going wrong and rejoice when it doesn’t.”


Well, it finally happened.

On a recent Sunday morning a confluence of seemingly random and unpredictable events brought about a valuable lesson. As I sat in the pew about to go up to preach I opened my iPad mini, and my sermon notes were gone. With the feeling that can only be compared to a perfectly executed uppercut to the breadbasket I sat (breathlessly) in shock. My wife looked at me curiously. I referenced my iPad and said, “My notes.” With the sanctified sympathy of a pastor’s wife she calmly asked, “You ready?” Taking a deep breath, I said, “Yeah . . . I think.”

The ten-foot walk from my seat to the pulpit seemed like a quarter mile. I began trying to run through the points, sub-points, and illustrations in my mind. As I got behind the sacred desk I had that overwhelmed and overmatched feeling that I get when I am searching the grocery store to find organic quick oats for my wife.

Taking another deep breath, I prayed, opened the Bible, and preached.

Since then I’ve had the opportunity to evaluate a few things. If you are a preacher who relies heavily on technology for your notes this may be of some help. If you are a printed notes guy or a no notes guy, then you can enjoy the conclusions and how they tend to affirm your practice.

1. I can become too dependent on technology.

Over the years I’ve fluctuated between hand-written notes, bullet points, manuscripts, and even no notes sermons. In this particular sermon I had a lot of things crafted a certain way. It was a hard passage and required careful nuancing. However, I think my reliance upon the good gift of technology may have prevented more detailed preparation. Let me put it another way. I wish that when I noticed the notes were gone that I would have just brushed it off like nothing. That feeling that I got seemed to betray an over-dependence upon my notes.

2. I can do more than I think.

When I got home that afternoon I went to my laptop and reviewed my notes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that while I certainly did not get every word, I did cover most of what was in my notes. My application, implications, and overall sermon followed the notes. This made me realize that I can probably do more than I think. My (detailed) notes are nice to have but not absolutely essential.

3. Weakness reminds me of strength.

When I closed my iPad in the pulpit I was reminded that the Holy Spirit was there. While my notes were lost, he was not. In my weakness God is strong. And, lest I forget, every single sermon I am weak (notes or not). And every single sermon he is strong (notes or not).

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