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Sermon Writing Computer Software

By Doug Self
At last! Software for the pastor's weekly sermon preparation duties. Divine features! Bells and whistles! Consider the possibilities:

1. Catchy Sermon Titles, Automatically! The computer will analyze your sermon and your congregation and -- presto -- suggest five possible titles.

For example: You're preaching on Christian maturity to a Yuppie congregation. Suggested titles, "Let the Lord be the CEO of your Life!" "Why be a spiritual Ford when you can be a BMW?" "You can have it all!" "St. Paul's Spiritual Fitness Workout." "Turn the 'Big Chill' into a 'Warm Fuzzy'."

You just choose the title you want to use. It's automatically printed on the Church bulletin, the sign-bord in front of the church and telecommunicated to the local media with your picture (computer enhanced with a full head of hair) and a tantalyzing synopsis of the sermon.

2. Approximate Sermon Length Function. You enter the starting time of your sermons -- say 11:34 a.m. Your monitor displays the time you will be preaching a certain point or giving a specific illustration as well as a read-out of elapsed time. Both will be printed on your manuscript.

When working on your sermon and your material is edging close to 12:00 noon, a warning tone will sound. Go past 12:00 one minute or less and a bell will sound and a skull and cross-bones appear in the text. Go two minutes past noon and you'll hear three bells and have to successfully complete the computer game Daniel in the Lion's Den before continuing.

Three minutes past, the monitor screen flashes red and the chimes on top of your church peels out a funeral dirge. Four minutes past and the whole system shuts down. It can only be reactived by a key in possession of the chairperson of your church board.

Outlining and Organizing Function. Just enter your ideas and hunches any old way. Throw them in all jumbled up. The software sorts them out and puts them in outline form! Three points appear before your eyes, all in formal or casual theological jargon (your choice). You can also choose an alliteration or rhyming style if you wish.

4. Illustrations and Stories. Once you've got your outline and all the subpoints you want, simply select any point, use the proper key strokes and immediately the software brings up several relevant and riveting illustrations of your point.

The software does not have a limited bank of illustrations that can become outdated. Instead, through a modem, your computer is hooked into Sermon Illustration Central. Every day, each newspaper, magazine, radio and TV station in the United States (as well as many conversations of people in your congregation) is analyzed according to 3000 likely sermon subjects.

Pertinent illustrations are gathered, categorized and kept on file for one month, ready for your access. This includes National Enquirer, P--------y special minister's edition without pictures), and thousands more.

For example, suppose you want to illustrate a point about marriage. You would immediately have for your selection: "The Happy Marriage Diet" from a weekly newsmagazine, "Boy Marries Dead Mother in Bizarre Ceremony" from a grocery-store tabloid, "Car Repair for Family Togetherness" from a mechanic's magazine, and a few lines of spirited dialogue from an Ozzie and Harriet rerun.

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