Filing sermons

I used my new Psion Series 7 today to write my sermon for tomorrow. I wrote this one in the sunshine, sitting at a round patio table in our conservatory in Cellardyke. When the midday sunshine grew too bright for me to view my screen (even with the brightness at full) I moved downstairs and finished wrestling with Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus there.

I’m subscribed to an online email discussion group called Midrash which frequently offers me inspiration aplenty during the weekly discussions of the following Sunday’s Revised Common Lectionary readings. It’s a wonderful resource.

Anyway, this sermon e-group got me thinking today about how I now keep my old sermons only in electronic format (with various regular backups) having discovered that the printed versions take up an awful lot of space over time. But how to store them, what format of naming and ordering on your computer would / do you use? Here’s what I do:

I have a folder entitled Sermons, within which I have four subfolders:

  • Other
  • Year A
  • Year B
  • Year C

‘Other’ covers anything that doesn’t fall into the Revised Common Lectionary three-year cycle of bible readings, eg Meditations, Funeral and Wedding sermons, sermon series and sermons that I’ve received from other people.

Within Years A, B and C I have the same eight subfolders:

  1. Advent
  2. Christmas
  3. Epiphany
  4. Lent
  5. Easter
  6. Ascension
  7. Pentecost Trinity
  8. Festivals

Hey! It’s the church year!

And within each folder I file my sermons with the following scheme — one that took me ages to develop, but which I offer to you for free:

<RCL Year> <Sunday Proper No.> <Year in ISO date format > <additional information>


A Pentecost 03 Trinity 02 Proper 05 2005-06-05.lwp
B Easter 7 2000-06-04 A4.lwp
C Christmas Eve 2003-12-24 John 1.lwp

That way I’m always aware of the RCL year that each sermon pertains to, and within a folder I can immediately see if I have a sermon for a particular Sunday, and are sorted in chronological order, eg

A Pentecost 23 Trinity 22 Proper 25 1999-10-24.lwp
A Pentecost 23 Trinity 22 Proper 25 2002-10-27.lwp

Clever, huh! I share that with you for free.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

4 thoughts on “Filing sermons”

  1. I have a folder for each year’s worth of sermons. Then I title the file with the calendar date, the liturgical date, and the sermon title. For example, my sermon for tomorrow is called: 06-05-05 Ord 10 A Community of Faith, Not Merit. I have a parallel system for bulletins.

  2. I simply file them alphabetically in a folder named for the year. That’s all the organization I need for sermons; there aren’t that many for any given year and since all the annual folders are in an enclosing folder, it’s easy to run backups. The real problem I’d like to solve is how to gather all the notes, emails, outlines and drafts of sermons. I’ve always used a file folder and tossed everything in and I haven’t quite figured out a system to replace that yet. I’d be interested in anyone who has one.

    On a related issue, I’m wondering what format would be best for archival copies of sermons. I have a lot on older versions of former word processors. Now I’m wondering if I should make a PDF version of each one.

  3. Filing sermons in a way that enables me to find a particular one is something I have struggled with and finally settled on this:
    Scripture, sub scripture, sermon title

    Thus, for June 5,05 my sermon is filed as: MT 9 Gen 18 Blessings
    and they are all in one computer folder titled SERMONS. This way, if I am not following the lectionary but want to refer to a certain scripture or topic, I can find the sermon easily.

    The paper copy is filed in a cabinet with the order of service stapled to the front page and is kept in date order. This provides a dated cross reference, and also enables those in the congregation to choose to “re-use” one of my old sermons when they are leading worship in my absence.

  4. I have an electronic folder called “sermon.” In that folder I have a folder for each previous year (i.e., “2004,” “2003,” “2002,” etc.) At the end of the year, I create a folder for that year, move all the sermons to that folder, and clear out the “sermon” folder for the next year.

    I use both the calendar date and a lectionary designation to name the individual files. Today’s sermon (had I preached) would have been 050605aP3 indicating 2005 June 5, lectionary year A, Pentecost 3. I distinguish between Epiphany and Easter by using Ep and E, respectively.

    I was on vacation a few weeks back, and was unable to find anyone to preach for the Sunday at the end of the week. I was going to be in church, but I had no sermon prep time. I went to my “sermon” folder, clicked on “2002” and found the file with the “aP1” designation. With a bit of reworking on Saturday night, it worked like a charm.

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