Writing sermons is only one part of a pastor’s work, but it’s one that can take a great deal of time in study and preparation. Every pastor I know wants to be faithful in his preaching and therefore invests time and energy into properly studying the Scriptures and preparing for Sunday morning.
There’s not a lot of shortcuts out there, though, and many of the helpful technology tools cost a great deal. Fortunately there’s a number of tools freely available on the internet to help streamline the process.
To that end, here are my go-to online tools for sermon writing. They’re not the only ones, and I won’t even claim that they’re the best, but they’ve served me well and continue to do so.
For those who follow the historic lectionary (1 year or 3 year), yaag.org (short for Year at a Glance) is a great way to determine the texts for a given Sunday.
Once we know the texts, we’ll start with the obvious. BibleGateway is pretty much the default site for doing version comparisons and getting an initial read of the text. With many English translations and the ability to look at up to 5 versions in parallel, this site is a good way to get your head around the initial reading of a passage. (There are other sites that do similar things, like YouVersion, but BibleGateway has become my default.)
Great Treasures requires you to register for a free account, but signing up is totally worth it for what you get. The initial view after you log in might not look like much, but if you expand the intermediate and advanced sections, you’ll find a wealth of tools for Greek language study of the text.
The top (beginner) section provides multiple English translations in comparison, while the bottom contains the Greek text, parsing, and space for your own translation. In the center you’ll find lexical entries for any word in the Greek text (just click the word you’d like to dig in to) and a full listing of passages where that word occurs. Instant word study, anyone?
Their Hebrew support is lacking, but the LXX is available for Old Testament passage study. It’s also worth noting that Great Treasures does everything in Unicode, meaning that the Greek text will easily copy and paste into your word document or other websites.
This one’s a project from Tufts University and is generally focused on classical scholars, but The Perseus Project has some great possibilities for Biblical study. Essentially, you can enter a word, either using their transliteration scheme or by copying and pasting a Unicode version of the Greek word (such as one copied from Great Treasures . . .) and receive entries from multiple Lexicons, including LSJ, Middle Liddell, and others.
Several of these lectionaries actually include the extrabiblical usage of the word, meaning that you can dig deeper into how the word was used in other written works of the time.
For Old Testament study in Hebrew, this site contains the entirety of the Hebrew Bible with English translation. Additionally, you can use it to display commentary by Rashi, a medieval French Rabbi, which can bring some historic insight to the text. Obviously this isn’t always going to line up with Lutheran teaching, so be sure to read his work with a critical eye.
Continuing the trend of historical study, CCEL archives a great deal of historic Christian thought in freely available formats. Here you’ll find everything from Ante-Nicene fathers to GK Chesterton. There’s a lot here to enjoy.
Just in case you don’t keep yours close at hand when writing, there’s a Book of Concord online for easy reference.
That’s it for my list, but I know that’s not everything the internet has to offer. What are your favorite tools for sermon writing?
Use these tools to support more pastoral writing, such as a blog of your own! Learn more in our free ebook, “Why Pastors Should Blog.”