Sermon Writing Computer Software Doug Self September 1 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and riveting illustrations of your point.The software does not have a limited bank of illustrations that can become outdated.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.This thing has incredible possibilities! You simply select the illustration you want to use to buttress your point and it’s immediately inserted. All illustrations and stories are indexed according to emotional impact. A 10 rating, for example, will leave everyone crying — even high school football coaches and accountants. The lower the rating, the less the emotional impact.Extra! Also available are personal biographical stories always preceded by the phrase, “please excuse the personal reference.” You can choose from thousands of personal anecdotes. For example: “I was raised by a pack of wolves,” “When I was hooked on 13 different drugs,” “When the president called for advice,” “On tour with my Punk-rock band,” etc. You get the idea.These personal “historical moments” come with blanks where you simply insert your name, dates and other distinguishing touches. Surprise and amaze your congregation!5. Gestures, Voice-Inflection. The nation’s best speech coaches, political speech writers and TV situation-comedy directors have contributed their expertise to this software! When you’ve finished your sermon, a key-stroke will suggest gestures and vocal-inflection for each important phrase.This is denominationally sensitive. For example, for the more formal churches, the phrase is, “Let the heavenly example guide your pathway.” The suggestion would be, “pronounce words carefully; calm, benign facial expression; look upward at the word ‘heavenly’ and down the center aisle at the word ‘pathway’; the index finger of the right hand pointing upward at an elevation slightly above your head at the word ‘heavenly’.”However, for the more spontaneous and expressive church the phrase is, “Don’t stumble through the hedges of sin, but walk the heavenly highway.” The suggestion would be, “Let the words explode, pronounce sin with nasal tone and as if it were three syllables with an ‘uh’ on the end. Sprinkle the word ending ‘uh’ liberally throughout the phrase; furrow eyebrows and frown while speaking ‘hedges of si-i-n-uh.’ Raise eyebrows and smile broadly for ‘heavenly highway-uh;’“Shake index finger of right hand at congregation for ‘hedges of si-i-n-uh.’ Pause for ‘amens.’ Then, strut down the center aisle, with elbows swinging high for ‘heavenly highway-uh,’ motioning for others to join you.”6. Sermon Rating Function. When your sermon’s done, if you dare, activate the sermon rating function. The computer will analyze your sermon and compare it with thousands of others from across the nation. Then, your rating will appear at the top. (This rating is not visible to laypeople.)This is not a 100 or 85 rating, not even an A, B, C scale. Instead, the computer indexes your sermon to a pastor’s annual salary figure, taking into account grammar, grade-level reading equivalent, theology, cleverness, entertainment quality, etc.The rating figure indicates the approximate salary of a pastor writing such a sermon. This can range from “You pay them” to “$100,000+” that flashes and activates bells and whistles. Another touch of the key and your sermon can be transformed to the salary range index of your choice! Suppose you want to preach sermons in the $60,000-70,000 range. No problem; your grammar and words will be adjusted and the appropriate phrases added or deleted. Who knows what surprises you may find in your paycheck after several months of preaching $10,000 above your head?I’m developing this software in secret. You’ll be notified when it’s ready for delivery. In the meantime send three hundred dollars in unmarked bills to my Tiajuana post office box. I’ll get back to you.