Four Things You Must Know About Preaching From An iPad

Six years ago my current pastor lamented about the fact that soon, paper would be replaced with pixels and people who preach would rely on flat panel tablets. I do not think he nor many others predicted that the “soon” would come to reality so quickly.

Ever since I preached my first sermon in my early teen years, I have used paper. I tucked my sermon into my bible and used this method for many years. This was the case until the iPad came to light.

I was always infatuated with the thought of having hundreds of my sermons that I usually typed out and then printed — to be readily available for me at the tap of a finger. This was my primary motivator for desiring this magical device.

The iPad2 that I currently use was a gift to me from my wife when I finished seminary this year.  This device was absolutely everything that I thought it would be and much more. I know it is not for everyone. But, I would recommend this device to anyone who does any type of public speaking.

I know some people will say that they price is steep. You can actually pick up the iPad1 for a pretty good price from someone who has grown tired of it. Most likely, the iPad2 will quickly fall in price as soon as the third one will come out. I have had experience with both devices. The only difference that I noticed is the weight. The iPad2 is a bit lighter but not by much. Either device is a great tool for preaching.

In addition, some people spend the amount of money they could buy an iPad for to buy books and other things. What would make you do that when you can get books much cheaper on the iPad? When I bought my wife the bulky ESV study bible, I had to pay over $40 for it. The same study bible is available as an app for the iPad for less than $15. It is much cheaper to build a library for yourself by using the iPad rather than physically buying books. It all depends on your preference and how you function. I am merely speaking from my own experience.

I am not going to do a review of the iPad here, that is for sure. I will leave that to my über techy friend Serg Borodin who will most likely become the editor for Wired magazine here shortly.

I am writing this not only to people who preach. I believe that every single person who publicly speaks in any capacity would benefit from this device. Whether you lead a small group, teach a sunday school class, do presentations in school or simply love to read and consume content in the most convenient way known to mankind. The amount of money you would spend on stand alone things you need will most likely equal to or be more than the price of the iPad.

Here are four observations about preaching from the iPad:

1. The convenience factor. I usually prepare all of my sermons on a program called Evernote. I then transfer all of the text from Evernote into an app called Pages on my iPad. Pages is basically like MSWord but the Apple version. In Pages, I am able to highlight, underline, bold-out and italicize anything I want — up to maybe a few hours or minutes before I begin to preach. I do not have to constantly scribble stuff out with a pen. I do not have to spend time highlighting sentences with a highlighter. If I do not like something, I simply delete it. I color coat the text I am preaching, my illustrations, my conclusions and my introductions. I can do this quickly, conveniently and effortlessly. There is no noise made when I swipe from one page to the next. All I have to make sure is that it is at least 85% charged when I get up to preach and I am good to go.

2. The virtual moleskin. If I am out somewhere and a thought or idea or a paradigm comes to mind, I can whip out the iPad and instantly put the thought into the sequence of the sermon. It is that easy. No longer do I need to look for pens to write with, napkins to scribble or on or moleskin journals to chase after just to write down that one thought. If I want to put into the flow a text that just came to mind, I simply copy and paste it from the many bible apps that are available. I do not have to wait to get home to get on my desktop, to boot it up, to open the Word Doc, to open, to copy and paste and then only for it to appear where I want it.

3. Easy Access. Wherever I am, I have access to all of my sermons that I preached. I can pull them out at any time. I do not have to carry with me a huge briefcase with notes, paper and paperclips. I do not have to fumble around with papers or order of papers or page numbers as I did when I used actual paper to preach from. If someone asks me a question about a particular topic, I can email them a pdf of the actual sermon that I preached — where I went to great lengths explaining a particular truth. If someone is in need of a resource, I simply pop onto the iPad, click on the sermon file and email whatever the person is asking for. It is that easy. I can do this from anywhere there is a wifi connection. And I am not aware of where in our culture right now there is one lacking. I am not saying this is the ultimate way. But it is my preferred way. The goal here is not methodology but functionality.

Here are some common myths that I would like to dismantle:

4. Some common myths. Some people think that anyone who preaches from an iPad is doing this because they are trying to be cool, trendy, hip, hipster or uber-techy. While there is little truth to this, here is what I will say. The only reason I preach using the iPad is because it is a convenient device to proclaim God’s truth from in a very simple and effective way. I thank God for this common grace that allows me to preach about Jesus. I know many people have different ways they approach this. Keep in mind, the iPad for me serves much more a preparation device rather than a screen I stare into while I preach. My goal is to communicate gospel content in a way that is understood and quickly applied to life. The iPad is simply something that aids me in doing this. Am I saying that this is what I always will use? For now, this works for me. We will see what else Apple comes out with in the near future. I do miss though grabbing the bible and waving it around in the air, because it is just not the same feeling when using the convenient bible app. 🙂

Question: Have you used the iPad? What do you think about it? What are your thoughts about people who preach using the iPad? What are some of your reservations about it? 





22 responses to “Four Things You Must Know About Preaching From An iPad”

  1.  Avatar

    Bogdan, Great article. Maybe I’ll buy an ipad someday. One idea for you: Many people in your audience would LIKE to see you wave a Bible around. It gives them confidence that you are preaching from the Word! So hold an open Bible in your hand while you preach. I do this in jail ministry even though the guys have a handout with the text printed out and I may have the verse memorized. It is a symbolic gesture. It says, “The Bible is my authority.”

    1. Good tip — Thank you!

  2. Pavel Marchenko Avatar
    Pavel Marchenko

    Hey, i bougt one of those on black friday and returned on saturday, THEN i bougt Samsung Galaxy tab with android and i love it, infact i am typing this comment on my new pad after i have read your post through Google reader on the same pad. I guess i dont do that well with Apple products. Life is awesome.

    1. Паша — do you mean to tell me you went out and bought an iPad and then you returned it? By the way, I hope you were not camped out in those tents at the local BestBuy. I love though the way you are consuming content — that is my preferred choice as well — through an rss reader — How is the Galaxy Tab? What did you not like about the iPad?

      1. Pavel Marchenko Avatar
        Pavel Marchenko

        My galaxy by now has FTP setup with my local network, it has DropSync (that way all of my dropbox files including my cermons are on my tab, and it has document aditing software, so i can work in my Docx files and it is GOOOOOOOGLE, that means i have my calendar, my church calenar, my wife’s calenar and my every other chared calendar, the only thing i have not figureit out is WHY in the world it does NOT check my speling when i tipe responce to your post. 😉

        1. LOL — I know — I was going to ask about that — but thought I would wait a bit — WOW — your GALAXY sounds awesome — and it sounds pretty much exactly like the iPad 🙂 I have all of that — but I have only one calendar — I will pray for you brotha — to keep up with all those calendars! and for the spell-checker to kick in!

  3. Brandon Vaara Avatar
    Brandon Vaara

    Great post Bogdan, but what happens when the battery dies, or you accidently close your sermon out or touch another “App” icon which results in the Ipad opening up Pandora in the middle of your sermon? You’ll really have to trust the Holy Spirit to deliver you when those circumstances present themselves 🙂

    1. Brandon — LOL — that is some hyperbolic humor my friend 🙂 I will say what I said to another friend on Facebook about the battery dying: I want to be so saturated in the biblical text that — if the iPad shuts down, I will still boldly and passionately drop the gospel bomb that will shatter hard hearts and encourage down trodden saints 🙂

      Practically speaking though — for the situation you described to occur — I would have to click twice on the home button, swipe until Pandora is in view, tap it and wait for it to start up — and since my version is wifi only — and usually where I preach there is no wifi connection, I would not be able to stream anything anyway. But you do have to get used to the swipe a bit — because if you get too excited – you will end up swiping up a storm — 🙂

  4. Pretty cool! I find that my iPad is very attractive to not one, not two, not three, but all six of our children – ha ha.

    1. Mariya — LOL — then Christmas might be expensive this year huh?

  5. Pastor Mark Avatar
    Pastor Mark

    I am new to the world of preaching from an iPad, but so far–I am HOOKED! I love the lighted screen because it helps my old eyes to see the text more clearly. I put all of my Bible verses in the notes for ease of reading, but I still take my Bible to the pulpit. My favorite apps for the ministry–Logos, You Version Bible, GoodReader, Penultimate.

    1. Pastor Mark — I am glad to hear that — I agree with you — it is very convenient! What is GoodReader and Penultimate? What are those apps specifically used for? I am always exploring new apps so it would be cool how those specifics apps can aid in the preaching process form an iPad. Thanks!

  6. Lee Rutter Avatar
    Lee Rutter

    Great article!

    I recently got the new ipad and have been using it a lot, too. Book Study Groups, as well as writing lesson plans.

    I use evernote for all kinds of things, but not for sermons. Instead, I use a program called Celtx. It’s free, and they have apple, pc, and ipad versions that work well together. The awesome part about Celtx is that I can create a novel (sermon) and then turn it into a script.

    In other words, what I am preaching from the texts will be put into script format for others to teach from the same material. It will be a guideline and basis to go by. This way, I can have groups around the country in small get-togethers learning the same way. I want to bring back the “personal” feeling when learning and growing spiritually.

    The Ipad will help create that. What the other people use, won’t matter. In the end, they will have a PDF document they can either print out, or use a pc, ipad, android, or whatever is appropriate for them.

    The next step is to incorporate Celtx with WordPress on the Ipad!

    God Bless!

    1. Great tips, thank you Lee!

  7. I think this Sunday evening will be my first time preaching from my iPad, which I received also, as a seminary graduation gift. I just recently discovered Evernote and I love that it synchs with every device and that I don’t ever have to forget emailing a file to myself, since I’ll have it in Evernote.

    One question I do have though is, how do I, after typing out my sermon notes convert it to a PDF?

    Thanks for writing your post too.

    1. Hi Kurt — good question — I use “pages” because I love having the flexibility of editing my sermon if I want to add something into it prior to preaching and after my main prep-work is done!

      1. Thanks. I think I’ll be purchasing the Pages app on Friday and will give it a try at my next preaching opportunity.

        1. You are going to love it!

  8. I have been planning to get an iPad for the sole purpose of preaching. Now that I’ve read your article I have to get one! I also use Evernote but I usually type my sermons in MSWord first. I still don’t like the formatting Evernote uses but I do usually end up putting them in Evernote for convenience.

    I plan to continue using the Bible as some others have said. I think traditionally it would freak out less people if I kept using it. Also, youversion app is great but can be finicky with no wifi.

    I will check out the Pages app. I have had many to recommend GoodReader. Do you have any experience with this app? I’m wondering how it compares to Pages.


    1. lj – hi! Thanks for stopping by and commenting — I have to agree with you 100% about everything you said about evernote, using a paper bible and youversion — I have experienced some glitches with evernote and youversion. I never use youversion to read the bible when I am preaching/teaching. I usually use my regular slimline esv and/or text that has already been found and quoted. Pages is great to preach from – you can also convert your sermon into pdf and use that — I have never heard of GoodReader but it might be worth a try — Pages does what it needs to do for me right now – plus I love that it is fluid and I can edit/add anything I want whenever I want — I do not know if GoodReader offers that capability and I know pdf does not — God bless you as you prepare to preach and keep preaching Jesus!

  9. Hey bro,

    I too preach from the iPad and agree with all of your points. I’m just curious as to why you prepare your sermons using Evernote and then transfer them to Pages? Is there a benefit to doing this? I just prepare mine using Pages, but if I can benefit from using Evernote I would like to!

  10. Russell Avatar

    Hi Bogdan,

    I am a school chaplain who has been studying ministry part time for a number of years now. One of my final units is all about preaching, which is exciting! In your article above you mention “I can whip out the iPad and instantly put the thought into the sequence of the sermon”. I am very interested to know if you use a specific outline or template for preparing your sermons and If so i was wondering if you would be able to share it?

    Many thanks!

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