I had been looking at the Logos Bible study software website when it happened. I stumbled across the Logos endorsements page and I saw something that made me laugh.
So this is what I tweeted:
— Markus Watson (@MarkusWatson) May 7, 2020
Next thing I knew, Beth Moore herself had commented on the tweet, saying:
“Wait wait wait wait wait. Where’s my phone??? I’m bouta take me a picture and make it my wallpaper.”
And, suddenly, everyone was liking, commenting, and retweeting! For the first time in my life, my tweet went viral!
I couldn’t keep up with all the notifications on my phone! Is this how it is for those big-time influencers?! Crazy!
After twenty-four hours, as you might expect, no one was talking about my tweet anymore. I’d had my 24 hours of Twitter fame.
The next day, someone asked me, “So, Markus, what do you really think of Logos Bible study software?”
The truth is… I love Logos.
And, so…. I thought I’d share with you a little bit about why I started using Logos and why I keep using it when I prepare my sermons today.
But first I need to say this…
Your Sermons Are Not That Important
Ok, ok. I’m not saying your sermons aren’t at all important. It’s just that they actually aren’t the most important aspect of your ministry.
You know what the most important component in your ministry is? YOU are!
Yes, the most important thing in your ministry is you!
- Your sermons matter, but your presence matters more.
- Your teaching is important, but your compassion is more important.
- Your exegesis is valuable, but your Spirit-led leadership is more valuable.
Here’s why I’m telling you this:
You should be spending as little time doing sermon prep as possible.
You ask, “But, Markus, are you saying I should start slacking off in my sermon prep?”
Not at all!
What I’m saying is, we all need a tool that will help us preach better sermons with less preparation time SO THAT we can do all the other things we need to do as pastors and spiritual leaders in order to restore God’s wholeness in the world.
For me, Logos has been one of the tools that has helped me do that.
Logos Bible study software helps me preach better sermons with less prep time so I can be the pastor my congregation and community needs.
Why I Started Using Logos
2007 was the year I started preaching every week when I became the pastor of a Presbyterian church in San Diego. At that time, my best resource for sermon preparation was the library at Bethel Seminary. Every Monday, I’d drive twenty minutes to Bethel Seminary and spend the whole day there working on my sermon.
It worked, but it wasn’t ideal.
Even though, over time, I discovered some favorite commentaries and Bible dictionaries, it took a lot of time to dig them up each week, find the right article or section, and then put it back on the shelf. If a question emerged that the commentaries I’d pulled didn’t answer, I’d have to go looking for other resources. And if I ran out of time, I was out of luck. I couldn’t say, “I’ll look it up tomorrow.”
Eventually, I heard about Logos Bible study software and decided to check it out. I liked what I saw and I bought the Silver level of Logos. This was way back in 2009.
Once I stared using Logos, it felt like everything changed.
I had a huge library of commentaries and books and other resources literally right at my fingertips. All I had to do was type in the passage I’d be preaching on and Logos immediately gave me everything I needed to study that passage.
Let me share with you three of my favorite features.
My Favorite Features in Logos
Early on, I discovered that I could create a custom layout in Logos. This allows me to get right to work when I prepare my sermons. I have two custom layouts that I use.
The first custom layout is my Scripture layout.
In this layout, as soon as I type in the passage I’m studying, Logos opens to that passage in nine different translations. I’ll usually read the passage through in all nine translations, noting the similarities and differences, and allowing questions to emerge.
I should say that before I read the text in these nine translations, I’ll usually have spent some time meditating on the passage in a lectio divina sort of way—letting my spirit soak in the scripture.
After I’ve read the passage through in these nine translations and written down my observations and questions, I switch over to my second custom layout.
The second custom layout I use is my Research layout.
It’s an essential layout that Logos offers for study, which I’ve customized with my preferred tools. Here’s a picture:
I type in the text and Logos pulls up all of the commentaries that I’ve designated as favorites for this layout. Then I start reading through several of the commentaries and take notes on what I learn.
I love this layout because it not only provides all the commentaries I could ever want (and if I’m missing one that I want, I can simply buy it from Logos and immediately download it), but it also provides all kinds of other information. In my sermon on Acts 13:13-52, I used these maps to understand where Paul and Barnabas were traveling. (Did you know Pisidian Antioch is only 200 miles from Paul’s hometown or Tarsus?)
Factbook is a really cool tool. I like to use it when I’m, for instance, studying a person or a place. My previous sermon on Acts 13:1-12 introduced two characters on the island of Cyprus: Sergius Paulus and Bar-Jesus. Who the heck is this Bar-Jesus? Type it into Factbook and you’ll have all the info you need to understand who this person is.
Logos makes doing word studies super easy. For instance, Acts 13:45 says that the Jews were “filled with jealousy” at Paul and Barnabas. But N.T. Wright suggests that “zeal” is a better translation for the Greek.
Well, some translations (e.g., the NIV and ESV) include the original languages below the English. So, I click on “jealousy” and look at the Greek at the bottom of the screen. Sure enough, in Greek, the word is zelos, which can be translated as jealousy or zeal. If I click on the Strong’s notation, I can get all kinds of in-depth information about zelos.
Logos does almost everything for you…but not absolutely everything
I’m telling you, I love Logos. It definitely helps me prepare better sermons in less time.
While Logos Bible study software can give you all the information you could ever want in your sermon preparation, it won’t actually prepare the sermon for you. That’s still up to you.
So, let me share one more tip that will help with the actual structuring and writing of your sermon.
There are four questions you need to ask yourself every time your write a sermon (or teach a lesson or give a talk). These four questions will help you get clear on exactly what your sermon needs to focus on. They will help you know which information you’ve gleaned from Logos should be included in your sermon, and which should be left for another time.
Here are the four questions:
- What do they need to know? This will help you focus on the one point your sermon needs to make. It is the destination. It is where you will land the sermon. It’s the one thing you need to your people to leave with.
- Why do they need to know it? This will help you structure the introduction of your sermon. It will help you create some tension and curiosity as to how the thing they need to know will answer a question they may not even know they have.
- What do they need to do? This will help you conclude your sermon. There should always be something you invite your congregation to do in response to the one thing they have learned.
- Why do they need to do it? This will also help you in your conclusion.
Answering these four questions were a game changer for me. I use them all the time. I even used them for this blog post!
Called to be Shalom-bringers
Let me add just one last thing about why I love using Logos.
Using Logos has allowed me to get out of the library and into the neighborhood. Which I think is really important.
We aren’t called to be Bible scholars buried in a library. We are called to be shalom-bringers living out God’s mission in our community.
Working on my sermon at Starbucks or Panera changed the way I wrote my sermons. All of a sudden I had specific people in my neighborhood in mind—the barista behind the counter, the old vet and his buddies, the young mom with her baby, the group of student studying for an exam together.
Writing and preaching sermons is not the most important thing you do. Oh, it’s important.
But the most important thing you do is to love well your people both in your church and in your neighborhood.
Writing and preaching great sermons is part of that, but the less time you need to spend preparing those sermons—without sacrificing quality—the more time you will have to love and lead your people.
I have found that Logos has helped me to just that.
How to Get Logos
If you’re new to Logos Bible study software and want an inexpensive option to test it out, you can get the Fundamentals package for only $49.99. It includes 58 commentaries and other resources. Quite a deal for the software, plus all those books! (This package normally costs $99.99)
If you’re interested in a more compete package, all base packages (Bronze through Portfolio) are available for 10% off with THIS LINK. It also includes your choice of five free digital books.
[Full Disclosure: I love Logos and I mean every word I wrote in this review. I’m also a Logos affiliate. If you purchase anything from Logos using one of the links on this website, I’ll receive a small commission.]