If you’re like many pastors I know, you were introduced to Logos in seminary but never really got the hang of it. Instead, you’re fiddling around with Word documents and textbooks to complete your sermons and sermon research. So, even with its hundreds of Bible study features, Logos now collects virtual dust. A powerful tool like Logos is a game changer for pastors, sermons, sermon research, and biblical resources.
Logos is the Ministry Tool of the Digital Age
Logos is to ministry what Photoshop is to graphic design. It is not a toy. It is a sophisticated tool designed for complex work. Pastors should train in Logos just as digital artists train in Illustrator. Logos has a learning curve, but the difficulty is no excuse. Biblical exegesis is complex. It is no surprise that Bible exegesis software requires training.
Logos does not have to be daunting. Anyone can use it, even those who never attended seminary. People struggle with Logos because they make four critical mistakes. Fix these mistakes, and Logos becomes empowering, not intimidating.
I will go over four common mistakes pastors make with Logos and how you can overcome them. To skip ahead to your area of interest, click the links below.
Four Common Mistakes To Avoid With Logos
Mistake #1: You Neglect Your Library
Logos is only as good as your library. Features like the Passage Guide are limited by what books you own. Imagine Logos like the world’s best librarian. It can give you quick access to the information you need. But if your bookshelf is empty, not even the best librarian can help.
Make this clear: Logos is not an addition to your pastoral library; it is a home for your pastoral library. If your favorite study tools only exist in physical form, Logos will never be helpful as it can be. Instead, consider buying your books online. Logos offers academic discounts and great sales. You will save money and get more value from your purchases.
To know what books to buy, use bibliographies. Sovereign Grace and Tim Challies offer good ones. Books like The Pastor’s Library and Preaching by John MacArthur also provide good lists. Avoid buying Logos packages. They are padded with unnecessary books. Instead, focus on quality over quantity. The better your library, the better your Logos.
Mistake #2: You Overlook Search
Logos is famous for its features, but (in my opinion), the only feature that matters is the Search tool. Built-in features like the Passage Guide are A.I. based. It tries to give you the information it thinks you need. You may have twenty books on Genesis, but the Passage Guide will only show you five, not even the best five. Meanwhile, a treasure trove of information remains untapped.
On the other hand, the search tool strips away the gimmicks and lets you study every corner of your library. It tells your “librarian” precisely what to find and where to look. You can search for specific phrases by wrapping them in quotation marks. (e.g., “Crucified with Christ”) You can also search for paragraphs containing important words. (e.g., Extent WITHIN 25 WORDS Atonement).
To define where you search, click “All Text” above the search bar. The drop-down menu lets you know what kinds of texts to search (e.g., Heading, footnotes, etc.). By using Collections, you can even organize your library into bundles. Click “All Resources” above the search bar and choose which collection of books you wish to search. This limits your results to only the resources you choose. Search works for more than just your Library. It can explore Scripture and parts of Greek and Hebrew speech, too.
Simply put, you cannot adequately use Logos without mastering the search tool. The built-in Logos features are like training wheels: easy to use and fun. The search tool removes the training wheels and lets you peddle into serious study.
Mistake #3: You Lack a Defined Sermon Preparation Process
No button exists on Logos called “Make Sermon.” Logos cannot prepare your Sunday message. It can only assist the sermon preparation process you already have in place. Sadly, many pastors don’t have one. They hide behind phrases like “letting the Spirit lead” and “preaching from the heart” to cover a lack of preparation. Not knowing what else to do, they read the passage, Google a few Greek words, and check commentaries. Sometimes all on a Saturday night!
The more defined your study process, the more opportunities you will have to use Logos. Create a task list for each day of the week. For example, make Mondays a background day. Work through a list of study tasks related to studying people, places, and things—the more detailed your process, the more profitable your Logos experience.
If you desire to grow in this area, consider works like Grasping God’s Word and Living by the Book. They provide specific steps for better Bible study. These steps used to take hours. With Logos, they will take minutes.
No matter how advanced the tools, the methods remain the same. To use Logos, you must be willing to engage in the process of exegesis. Logos cannot replace your sermon preparation process, but it can serve as the virtual workshop where that preparation takes place.
Mistake #4: You Are Not Recording Your Research
The brain is excellent at discovering ideas. It is not great at storing them. For this reason, some people succeed at using Logos but struggle to use it long-term. The problem is that they successfully discover data (short term) but fail to store what they find (long term).
Unlike the brain, Logos is great at discovering and storing data. When you record your research in Logos, it becomes indexed in the entire Logos ecosystem. This makes what you write searchable. It connects your thoughts to your library. There are two ways to do this: clippings and anchored notes.
You can save a quote with Clippings by highlighting/right-clicking the text and adding it to a new Clippings file. You can add comments to each clipping and organize it with tags. Doing so creates a portfolio of curated research, which is especially helpful for academic papers. The best part? Clippings not only store your study. It can even generate footnotes and bibliographies.
With Notes, highlight/right-click a quote to create a new note file. This will “anchor” your highlighted text and link it to your document. You can add as many anchors as you want. Anything you write on an anchored note will appear as a yellow button next to the quotes you anchored in your library.
Anchored notes work great for sermon preparation. You can record your observations on a passage in the same document where you store interesting quotes from your research. You can then store these notes in notebooks according to sermon series. The best part? If you do this for years, you will amass a wealth of personal research that builds on itself. The next time you come across a verse you previously preached, you can see your research and use it for your current studies. Logos saves it all.
Recording your research turns Logos into a long-term tool. It connects your research and keeps you in a flow of study. Logos is more than a tool and more than a workshop. Logos is a storage facility.
Making Logos Bible Software Effective
My dad used to say, “The drums don’t make the drummer. In the same way, the software doesn’t make the sermon. Knowing how to use Logos does not make someone a Bible student. You can be an effective Bible student without it. The basic principles remain the same whether with a pencil or a program. Effective Bible study requires quality resources that you study and record over time.
The true mistake of using Logos is focusing on the program instead of the person. In Greek, logos means “Word.” In John 1:1, John called Jesus the “Logos.” If we genuinely wish to know God and to share His message boldly with the rest of the world, we must intimately know the Logos who was with God in the beginning, not the Logos on our laptops.
Check out another great tech tool for leaders: 8 Practical Ways to Use Your ChMS After Events for Outreach Follow-Up.