There’s plenty of debate about whether or not the iPad’s a big deal. But as a pastor, it’s been a pretty big deal for me. Here are 9 ways I use it to do ministry that have made a significant difference:
- Teaching notes. Sometimes I need nothing more than an index card for sermon notes. Sometimes I need page after page. The latter creates problems. It means I’m stuck in one spot, referencing notes that have to stay right there, which means I do too. But with the iPad my notes are portable, whether I’ve got one page, or one hundred.
- That whole “in season and out” thing. I recently went on a ministry trip to the UK with one of my heroes. I knew I’d be speaking several times…but I didn’t know when, to whom, or how often. With my iPad in tow, I literally had hundreds of sermons ready to go. No scrambling to find a printer, no force-feeding an irrelevant message to fit an audience because it’s all I had prepared, and no panicking about a change of context. All without using a laptop that needs a stand, and a good charge, and looks pretentious. My iPad (with case) looks like a standard folio, and wasn’t distracting (even at the peek of iPad craze in a country that didn’t yet have them available).
- Interactivity. My iPad is starting to change the way we do church. This past Sunday we did live sermon Q&A, and my iPad was at the center of it. We had people text questions to the church’s phone # through Google Voice. The texts populated in the Google Voice inbox, which I read from my iPad. I could read them privately, determine which were most important/relevant, edit for content (if someone used potty language–they didn’t), and ignore the texts sent by pranksters who just couldn’t help themselves (we did have some of that!). Best of all, it was anonymous. People could ask questions without fear of looking stupid, or something coming out wrong.
- Illustration. This coming Sunday I’m using my iPad as a telestrator to illustrate a point. This is something we’ve been trying to figure out how to do since thee day I got an iPad. Fortunately, thanks to a nifty little app called Air Sketch, and the functionality of Pro Presenter 4, it’s actually pretty simple.
- Mobility. I wrote about a third of this week’s message sitting in the shade on a park bench downtown. Inspiration just comes easier outdoors…and interaction with real people comes a lot easier when I’m not sitting in my office.
- Organization. It’s a frantic world, and pastor’s aren’t above the fray. This job has forced me to be more organized than I care to be. Paper organization methods don’t work for me, never have. Desktop applications don’t work for people on the go, and the iPhone interface was just too small for me to make it work visually (smart lists are complicated, things would get buried 6 screens deep before I could get what I needed–my brain couldn’t keep track). For me, the iPad hits the sweet spot–now I can actually follow through with the GTD method that I’ve been in love with, but always seemed out of reach.
- Reading. I’ve read more in the last three months than I did in the last year. The interface is beautiful and simple, the highlighting and note-taking functions make my workflow far faster (specifically: getting info from the book, and into a message), and my library is always with me. This is probably the biggest single impact of the iPad on my ministry.
- News. Karl Barth said we should live “…with a Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other.” Those are important words for preachers: awareness, and relevance go hand in hand. My iPad makes this easier than ever. Much has been said about the iPad’s ability to make news consumption fun and simple so I’ll save you the speech. Suffice to say, the iPad and some of the amazing news apps (Reuters and BBC are my faves), along with RSS readers like Reeder, make getting the news you want from the sources you want, super easy.
- Meetings/counseling. I have meetings all of the time…like everybody else. Having a portable note-taking solution is huge! In a formal meeting (where note-taking is expected) it goes way beyond a note pad, because you have access to all of your files and the internet for reference/research. It’s creepy to take notes in an informal meeting, but as soon as they’re done I pull out my iPad and make a note of what I want to remember from that meeting. And in counseling, where notes are expected, the iPad is awesome because it’s far less obtrusive than a computer, it sits on your lap or desk like a notepad. For premarital counseling we use Prepare and Enrich, and the rather large digital reports it generates can sit silently on my lap for reference without causing distraction.
There are literally hundreds of other uses, some professional, and some personal. These are the ones that have made the biggest impact on the way I do ministry/business.