10 Tips for Preaching from an iPad

Like many pastors, I was trained to preach from either a manuscript or notes. One of the great gifts that I’ve received was all of the hand-written sermons my Grandfather had prepared over the course of his ministry. His “sermon barrel” was filled to the brim with messages from over 60 years of preaching. It’s a treasure trove of spiritual wisdom and insight that is life-giving in every way. I also have a sermon barrel, although my sermons are entirely digital. And while my sermons don’t have the personal connection like my Grandfather’s hand-written sermons do, they achieve the same effect.

Because all of my sermons were written on the computer, in order for me to preach from them, I had to print the sermon out. For years, I would print out the sermon, and then carefully tape them together into a sort of book that I could flip through as I preached. I would trim the booklet so it would fit neatly into my Bible so that when I started preaching, I could simply open my Bible and go. I’d even write out the scripture verses so I didn’t have to be flipping through my Bible while I preached. It was a time-consuming process and there was always a concern that I would lose the sermon booklet somewhere or worse that I would forget or duplicate a page.

Many years ago, I made the decision to start preaching from an iPad. There was obviously some challenges to this, but for the most part, it’s made it much easier to deliver the message. Over the course of the years, I’ve learned a few things that help make the transition from preaching from a physical document to a digital document easier:

  1. Convert the document to a PDF before putting it on your iPad so that as you are referring to it – you can easily adjust the font size. You can also change font colors and highlight or markup the PDF easily to assist as placeholders and way-markers throughout the message. Also – as a PDF – you can easily adjust the layout so it works best for you.
  2. Save the PDF into a folder in Dropbox or Google Drive and make sure that folder is setup so that it is available offline. You need to be able to access the PDF quickly and easily without having to think about it.
  3. Make sure you have a charged iPad. I have an iPad Pro and if I have at least 15% – I can make it through about a 20-30 minute sermon. I’ve also used iPad Air’s and iPad’s – and those take a little more battery, but it’s relatively comparable. That said – having a full charge eliminates any frustration.
  4. Along with making sure the iPad is charged, make sure that you’ve closed out of all of your apps except for what you need. Those eat up battery life and you don’t really need your Hulu account open when your preaching.
  5. Cases are primarily going to be a personal choice. For me – I use the Magic Keyboard case from Apple so that I can leverage the iPad as a true laptop alternative. Which means – when I want use my iPad – I oftentimes just pull it out of the magnetic keyboard case and set it on top of the case – which grips the iPad just fine so it doesn’t slip or move. You can also get a flat case for the iPad. Just pick something that works best for you.
  6. Make sure you are using a current update of the iOS software and that your iPad is backing up to iCloud.
  7. Along with that – NEVER UPDATE ON A SATURDAY NIGHT OR A SUNDAY MORNING. That’s just playing with fire and you WILL get burned.
  8. In Settings, do the following:
    1. Turn on Do Not Disturb so you don’t get interrupted
    2. Under Display & Brightness, change the following:
      1. Set brightness where you want it.
      2. Change Auto-Lock to Never (It’ll drain your battery – but it’s worth it)
      3. Turn off Lock/Unlock
    3. Under Notifications, change the following:
      1. Show Previews: Never
      2. Turn off Announce Messages with Siri
  9. Make sure your hands are clean. Nothing worse than having a sticky finger from a donut or a wet finger from coffee/water that makes the iPad stick or not work. I always keep a micro-fiber rag close by so I can easily wipe the screen down if that does happen.
  10. Lastly, remember that it’s technology – so it will fail you. If it’s too hot and in direct sunlight – the iPad will turn off, if it’s too cold, it’ll take longer to scroll and won’t respond as well. Just do the best you can with it and if and when it fails – just keep pointing people to Jesus and you’ll be fine.

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