1. Series Outline
For each of our teaching series, we put together an outline that’s used by several different teams for things such as creative elements, small group curriculum, etc. I will create a mind map for each series with the overall idea, key Scripture passages for each week, the main point of each message, quotes, random creative ideas or illustration possibilities. Here’s an example of one we did last year.
2. Brainstorm an Idea
Sometimes you need to process out an idea and just want to be able to get a lot of stuff written down quickly. Mind mapping is a great way to do an idea dump, utilizing each branch of the map as a key idea. We recently had a large event that had multiple layers and components. A mind map helped me to make sure we had thought through all the different areas that needed to be covered.
3. Broad, Bare-Bones Outline
To get a message (or really anything that I’ll be writing) started, I will create a mind map with just a few broad key ideas. This won’t have much more than some major ideas or movements in my message as well as any key passages of Scripture and illustrations. I then have something that I can go back to at any time later to fill in.
4. Preaching Outline
I use a pretty extensive outline to preach from, so I have to go beyond just some general ideas in an outline and do it in a way that’s readable. So, after I have filled in more than the bare bones outline and color-coded it, I then format it to be preached off my iPad. I right justify the map (because it’s easier to scroll through it that way), export it as a pdf, and then download it to GoodReader on my iPad. I zoom in on GoodReader to a point where it’s easy to read at a glance, and bring my iPad on stage with me to speak from.
Here’s an example of a portion of what my outline usually looks like when it’s done (trust me, it’s much easier to read on the iPad, then it looks)
Mind Mapping Apps
While I have personally tried around a dozen different mind mapping apps, these are the ones I keep coming back to:
1. Mindmanager by Mindjet. While I use the Mac version, there is also a Windows version as well as a significant non-profit discount if you are using it for ministry. This has more features than I ever even look at, but it’s able to consistently work in the way that I need it to as well as to export in a manner that makes sense for me to preach from.
2. iThoughts HD for iPad. While I do most of my writing on my Macbook Air, I will occasionally do my broad, bare-bones outline on my iPad. IThoughts can sync via Dropbox and easily import into Mindmanager.
3. Pen and Paper. While I love technology, sometimes it’s helpful for me to revert back to some simple pens and paper. Right now, when I do that, I’m using Staedtler Lumocolor pens with a Quattro blank notebook and will go old school to sketch out a mind map.
Mike Goldsworthy is the Lead Pastor at Parkcrest Christian Church.