Bit by byte, the computer is replacing legal pads and ball-point pens for more and more preachers.
In the olden days (B.C. — Before Commodore), we’d sit down at the desk with a cup of coffee at our side, six legal pads spread before us, and 3,684 books, commentaries and illustration cards arrayed in splendor just within reach. (The splendor was tarnished a bit when we knocked over the coffee and eliminated 4 of the 6 legal pads.)
Now those days are over. With my handy Kaypro 2X (or IBM for those preachers at big downtown churches, or Apple for the progressive types), I replace a desktop full of books with a diskette that sits in my palm — and is erased if it sits in my palm too long.
These days you can get the Bible on diskette (choose your version), your concordance on diskette, and I’m sure it won’t be long before Matthew Henry and William Barclay climb down off my shelf and into my disk drives. I push a few buttons and the truths of the ages are glowing on a screen before me.
Need an illustration? I just replace my King James diskette (“if it was good enough for Jesus and Paul…”), pop in my illustration diskette, and I’m on the way to sparkling sermons, whether the topic is “Idolatry” or “Technology — Evils of.” (I’ve been trying to cut back on that last one a bit.) Find the right story that will make ’em laugh or cry (I always prefer they do those things during the illustrations and not my Biblical exposition), and my buddy WordStar plugs it right into the sermon where it belongs.
Those legal pads full of scratches and scribbles have made way for the monitor where the unsightly thoughts I started with can be moved out of sight when I’m done with them. Wrong word? Just delete it and insert the one you want. Of course, if I decide five minutes later it was the right word after all, I’d better be able to remember it; monitors are less forgiving than legal pads.
When it’s all over and I’m “scrolling” (see, even the lingo is Biblical) through my text on the screen, I can bask in all this progress. Now when I knock over a cup of coffee, I not only destroy some legal pads — I can wipe out the accumulated wisdom of twenty centuries.
The only thing that has me worried is the next step. If computers are so handy in preparing sermons, how long can it be before they’re helping to deliver them, too? How long before those shrewd businesspeople on the church board discover they can add a voice synthesizer and eliminate a housing allowance and annuity?
Maybe legal pads weren’t so bad, after all.

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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