Using the iPad to Preach

Please do not read any further if you are leery of new technology. We’re going to talk about new technology and how it may very well change the way you preach…for the better of course. It has to do with the iPad—using the iPad to preach.

the iPad is a very cool device. If you easily cave in to the siren song of new gadgets and toys, you probably have one. You can use the iPad to watch movies, read books, write emails, perform music, take pictures of your kids, take pictures of yourself, and it may very well make your coffee if you ask it to. Techno-savvy pastors are also using the iPad for preaching.

Now, before I plunge into some awesome tips on how to use the iPad for preaching, let me just say one thing to the leery crowd who may have kept on reading even though I warned them not to. Using an iPad to preach is not for everyone. For some among us, buying an iPad may be like purchasing an idol. If the iPad is going to cause problems, don’t buy one. Others may not be able to afford one. That’s fine, too. Also, you may be absolutely comfortable with your way of preaching sans iPad. No problem. Don’t change just because. Most people in the world don’t need an iPad. It’s a tool. And it can help.

We believe in using technology for the glory of God in preaching and worship. If these iPad preaching tips help you, we’re thrilled.

iPad Preaching:  What’s the point?

If you want to preach from the iPad, you need to know how you’re going to do it. This depends on your style of preaching. Do you simply use the Bible and no preaching notes? Are you a notes minimalist (i.e, a Post-it note preacher)? Are you the kind of preacher who has to use a wagon to bring your notes and commentaries into the pulpit? Whatever your style, the iPad can help. Because the iPad is such an innovative piece of metal and glass, you can use it however you want. There’s no single way to preach from the iPad. It’s all about adaptability, flexibility, and personalization.

The point of preaching from the iPad is not to impress people with your technological-whizz-bangery. I have no doubt that you are a very cool person, but that’s not the point of preaching from the iPad.

iPad Accessories for Preaching:  What do you need?

The only thing you’ll need is an iPad. (The iPad does not come with hipster glasses and graphic Ts.) Most iPad users purchase some sort of protective shield for their iPad. I use the plain Apple iPad Case (for my old-school gen 1 iPad) just because it’s inexpensive and sort of protects my iPad if me or my kids drop it.

iPad Apps for Preaching:  What should you install?

The good news is that you don’t have to go out and blow a bunch of money on iPad apps in order to be able to preach. There is a very simple way to get your sermon notes on your iPad, and here’s how to do it. If your sermon notes are in electronic format, you can just email the notes to yourself and open up the email in your iPad. Presto! There you are.

  • Reading from PDFs. You can also save a PDF of your sermon notes and transfer the PDF to your iPad. There are a ton of great PDF readers for the iPad. iBooks is a free one that comes on your iPad.
  • Using a Bible reader. Unless you have the Scripture text printed in your notes, you’ll want a good Bible app. Your choice of an app depends on your version preference. My favorite Bible app is the ESV Bible because it’s elegant, fast, and easy to navigate. It also happens to be preferred translation.

ESV iPad App

  • Using Bible software. Far and away, the best app to have on your iPad is the Logos Bible Software app. This is amazing. It’s like having your own personal library, librarian, research assistant, personal preaching coach, and seminary professor all helping you preach. The good news about Logos Bible Software for iPad is that it’s free. It works best, of course, if you own a Logos Software library. Thankfully, we’ve partnered with Logos so you can get a discount on your preaching tools. Just enter the coupon code SHAREFAITH1 and get a discount on any package. So what if that seminary kid in your congregation asks you to parse a Hebrew verb in the middle of your message? Tap! Tap! No problem.

Busting out the Hebrew text plus a commentary with Logos for iPad

  • Using PowerPoint or KeyNote. One of the most popular ways to use the iPad for preaching is controlling PowerPoint or Keynote presentations. There are a sufficient number of presentation apps available for this purpose. The latest generation of the iPad can plug right into your projector, making it easy to display presentations.

iPad Tips for Preaching:  What should you absolutely remember to do before you get in the pulpit?

  • Know your iPad. If you got your iPad on Saturday night, don’t try preaching from it on Sunday morning. Use it a few days and get the feel for it.
  • Check your battery. The worst-case scenario is letting your battery die while your preaching. “Sorry, folks. The battery on my iPad died, so the message is now over!” The iPad battery lasts a long time, so as long as it’s fully charged, you shouldn’t have a problem (unless your sermons are longer than ten hours). If you have an outlet hiding in your pulipt, use it. Otherwise, you can turn off your WiFi and Bluetooth to save battery juice.
  • Lock your screen orientation. If you don’t like your screen auto-adjusting its orientation, make sure it’s locked. (Double click the home screen and click on the little padlock button). This way, when you wave your iPad around for emphasis, your Bible app maintains its composure.
  • Set your screen Auto-Lock to ten or fifteen minutes. Being the battery-saving device that it is, the screen on your iPad will turn off after a short period of inactivity. This doesn’t work so well for preaching, especially if you’re reading along, and <blink!> off goes the screen. It’s a good idea to set the screen’s auto-lock to ten minutes or so.

Planning to avoid an embarrassing situation when preaching with my iPad

  • Don’t plan on opening and closing a bunch of programs. This can get a bit cumbersome while preaching. If you do need to switch between apps, just tap your home button twice, and easily whiz over to your target app. It’s faster than closing an app, hunting around on your screen, and opening the next one.
  • Turn off the sounds. People may wonder what’s going on if they hear little electronic noises like “click,” “click” “swoosh,” and “ding” as you’re preaching. Make sure your volume is turned down.

The iPad isn’t going to automatically improve your preaching. And it’s not for everyone. But there are some helpful tools that you may find to be valuable in your ministry.

  • Pete hodge

    nice article. I recently got the iPad 2 and am using it to preach from. I am using pages as you can scroll dow easier than side ways and see whats on your next page and then scroll as you read. Advantages are it can be seen when the area is darker and hard to read notes. As an evangelist I am on the road a lot and can carry all ( or a number) of my sermons on the iPad. You can change the size of font as your eyes grow weaker… I felt a bit self conscious using it at first so bought a case for it and now it looks like a note folder and I open it and voila.
    Good tips in your article – I set it to not turn off but by putting the cover over the screen prior to preaching it goes to sleep anyway.

    • admin

      Good ideas, Pete! I’ve heard that a lot of people like to use Good Reader for their PDF reader while they’re preaching. I’ve never used it, but it looks good. Apparently, it helps recreate the virtual sermon note experience, complete with sketches, doodles, and highlighting. (