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.

Exploring Church Budgeting Alternatives

When it comes to discussing church budgets, it’s often a difficult process. No one really wants to talk about money and the ones that do often seem to have only one way to budget.

What if Budgeting could look different? What if budgeting could be centered more around how to use the financial resources to accomplish the goals of the organization rather than simply paying bills and making ends meet? There’s four basic types of budgets that are worth exploring.

  1. Zero-based budgeting
    Every ministry of the church starts with zero and must justify every single expense. No expenses are automatically okayed and every budget must go through a cost containment analysis to weed out the extras and focus on the essentials. It’s basically a bottom-up budgeting and is extremely time-consuming.

    There are a few churches using this, but because it is so demoralizing and it restricts the budget so significantly, it’s not used widely. Only in cases of a restarts and other restructuring efforts is this appropriate.
  2. Incremental budgeting
    We spent X amount on children’s ministry last year so we’re going to spend X amount +/- a % amount (determined by last year’s income) on this year’s children’s ministry. This is how most churches seem operate. It’s good and it’s bad for a variety of different reasons.
  3. Activity-based budgeting
    We want to have a really good worship experience and to accomplish that we need to invest in our creative team and their needs. That’s going to cost the church XXX amount of dollars and so that’s how we budget for it. Again – lots of churches operate this way – for good and bad reasons.
  4. Value-based Budgeting
    We want to have a church that is focused on connecting with the community. Because of this – every item in the budget must focus on the community. No single item should cost more that the value it adds to the community. Every budget item should be focused on the community. And because the community needs are ongoing, every effort must be made to avoid unnecessary expenditures that don’t deliver value for the community.

If you’re goal is to set a 3-5 year budget – then you really need to consider value-based budgeting. It’s provides the only option that, in my opinion, a healthy mission-centric church should consider. Money isn’t the focus – accomplishing the vision according to the values (mission) of the church is.

The Problem of Persecution

For decades the church has been praying for revival. However, for revival to take place, change must happen. Change, by its very nature, is always disruptive and creates tension. This tension is problematic at times, but necessary, if the change desired is to take place. Which means, if we truly want revival, then the Church must be willing to accept and embrace the change necessary to bring about revival.

If revival is the goal, then there has to be some elements of persecution in place in order to accomplish that goal. As pastors, we are called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ. If the work of the ministry is discipling individuals to Know God and share the hope and good news of Jesus with the world, then it is also necessary to equip the individuals that make up the Church to identify and adapt to the tensions necessary to bring about change. In short, individuals need to be discipled and prepared, both in seasons of revival and in seasons of persecution, to know God and share the hope and good news of Jesus with the world.

If this is true, then why does it seem that so many pastors are anxious and worrying about the potential threat of persecution?

Have these pastors been derelict in their duties to equip the saints and instead been placating the masses with easily consumable life lessons that have no eternal impact?

Have these pastors failed to equip the saints under their charge to process information correctly with a Christian mindset in order to filter out the nonsense and to discern the best way to share the hope and good news of Jesus with others in any situation?

Have these pastors emasculated themselves from the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives and subjugated themselves to the whims of the perceived cultural and societal needs for the sake. maintaining a status quo, of placing “butts in the the seats”, and procuring consistently increasing tithes and offerings?

Have these pastors embraced a “victim” mindset that has created an “us versus them” framework that’s allowed various cult ideologies to exist rather then a “victor” mindset that creates an “all have sinned” framework that correctly positions Jesus as the hope and salvation for the world?

Why are so many pastors worrying about the potential threat of persecution instead of focusing on the hope of Jesus?

The Maxwellian Leadership Model Origins

Oftentimes in the church, I hear the phrase, “Leadership is Influence.” “Leadership is Influence” is a distinctive of the “Maxwellian Leadership” model that has been so pervasive in the church, especially the Wesleyan Church, by our own John Maxwell. Both Kevin Myers and Dan Reiland, extraordinary leaders and thinkers in their own right, are strong supporters and communicators of the Maxwellian model, as are many of our current district and denominational leaders. It is a good model, but I don’t believe it to be a Biblical model, despite being supported by Biblical leaders.

Based on my research and best educated guesses, here’s how the Maxwellian model came to be and how that phrase came to hold such significance. We know that in 1968, the merger between the Pilgrim Holiness and the Wesleyan Methodist church occurred forming what we know as The Wesleyan Church and Fishers, Indiana became the headquarters.

The Greatest generation, the generation that had fought in WWII, was now firmly entrenched in the leadership. There was still some of the Silent Generation, but the Greatest’s were seen as the future and the ones who would hold the standard until the Boomers were mature enough to take over.

Since the end of the Great Depression and WW1, the Silent’s had revolutionized the business world. They brought the structure and discipline they had learned in the war, into the boardroom. It was brutal, ruthless and took no prisoners when it came to creating and establishing market control and dominance. By the time the Greatest came into power,

But that didn’t sit well with everyone. In particular, there was a Silent named Robert K. Greenleaf who worked for AT&T who started teaching an unpopular ideology that “the organization existed for the person as much as the person existed for the organization.” This positional statement lead to the formation of the “Servant Leadership” organizational model.

The Servant Leadership model was then co-opted into the Church world and began to gain traction. Silent’s began actively recruiting Greatest’s who had business backgrounds to lead church and eventually placed them in positions of denominational leadership. Still, talking while leadership traits were encouraged, talking about leadership in the church was not.

Maxwell changed all of that. Maxwell, one of the first Baby Boomers to really have substantial influence in the Church, recognized early on in his ministry that in order for him to connect better with the business leaders and people in his congregation, he needed to discover ways to develop his own leadership abilities.

Now, this part I have no actual evidence of, but based on what I’ve read in Maxwell and in Greenleaf, there’s a high probability that Maxwell, in seeking to develop himself, was exposed to Greenleaf’s servant leadership model early on. Greenleaf was from Indiana and visited and spoke there regularly, Wesleyan Headquarters was in Indiana, and we know Maxwell served as a pastor in Indiana. It’s not much of a stretch to see the probability of Maxwell being influenced by Greenleaf. And to take it one step further, If you read Greenleaf’s book, “Servant Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness”, it’s relatively easy to see Greenleaf’s fingerprints in the various teachings and writings of Maxwell. Simply put, there are far too many similar concepts, theories, and practices for it to be a coincidence.

Regardless, Maxwell’s now intentionally developing his personal leadership skills, which was a new idea to pastors who were only focused on developing their Bible skills. When Orval Butcher retired from Skyline, Maxwell brought those leadership skills with him and began teaching what he had been learning in staff meetings. Those staff meetings were recorded on cassette tape and somehow got leaked to pastors outside the church. Once pastors heard about this, they began calling and asking for these tapes and Maxwell, recognizing an opportunity to share his knowledge for a fee, began selling subscriptions to what became Injoy, which is now known as Equip. (Fun fact, when I was just starting out in ministry, I was told that I needed to listen to these Injoy tapes so that I could learn how to be a “real” pastor) :).

From here, most of us know Maxwell’s trajectory. He left Skyline with the sincere belief that his ministry was teaching leadership to pastors and Christian Business people. He’s gone on to become the foremost Christian leadership expert in the world.

Everyone in ministry today has, in some part, been influenced by Maxwell’s commitment and dedication to teaching leadership principles. We should all be aware and extraordinarily grateful for Maxwell’s willingness to be used by God to forever change the landscape and expectations of what it means to be a pastor and to pastor a church.

But your original question is, “Is there a better way to think of leadership?” And the answer is absolutely yes. The Maxwellian model opened the eyes of many to the need for Christian Leadership, however, few have actually explored a Biblical understanding of leadership. That’s not a criticism of pastors, but rather the reality that we are influenced by our personal experiences and the experiences of those around us. And if those around us have experiences based in the Maxwellian model of leadership, well then it’s highly likely that’s where our experiences will be based out of as well.

And that, in my opinion, is the problem that the Church and pastors are running into. Far too many of us have embraced a Maxwellian model of Leadership or a co-opted Servant Leadership model designed for business and incorrectly, and perhaps inappropriately, applied it to the systems and processes of the church.

The unintended result being that the church now looks and operates more like an Organization where success is defined by numbers and growth rather than the Organism that God created it to be where success is defined by the transformational power of Jesus and the life-giving attributes of those who follow Jesus to the communities and individuals around them.

What do you think?

Pandemic Reflections

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching and listening to the people that I interact with on a regular basis and processing how they are coming to terms with the reality of this pandemic.

My pastor friends seem to fall into two distinct categories.

The first category is built from the mindset “Once this inconvenience blows over, it’ll be back to normal for everyone.” Their timeframe is very short, sincerely believing that probably everything will be fine in another 2 weeks or so. Every time they share something, they talk about how much they can’t wait to get back together, how they are going to be running up and down the aisles and hugging and kissing everyone they can. They sincerely resent not being able to meet on a regular basis and they are extraordinarily uncomfortable with online church or any other form of church that may be different then simply coming into the church building, worshiping, listening to the sermon, and then leaving. I often wonder if quietly many of them are whispering to themselves that everything else is heresy…

The second category is built from the mindset “The church will never be the same, the old has gone and the new has come!” Their timeframe is much longer, believing that we will be in shutdown until at least June or July and that nothing will ever be the same again. They’ve adapted quickly to this new paradigm. Many of them are secretly relieved that church is no longer business as usual and they are quietly hoping that some of the “problem” Christians that attend their church will leave for other churches. They are so relieved to be rid of the routine and they are embracing and taking advantage of every single moment in this crisis to reinvent how they think about and do church.

My political friends, both conservatives and liberals, are operating out of an entirely different mindset.

My conservative friends, particularly the Libertarians of the group, are absolutely convinced that this pandemic is a direct result of the Democrats trying to destroy Trump’s chances at reelection and the economy at the same time. They aren’t buying what the news channels or experts are saying, they think the entire pandemic is a scam and they are refusing to change how they live or interact with others. They believe that the experts and reporters are grossly exaggerating the numbers and using the argument that people are actually dying from the Flu and not Covid-19, if it even exists at all. And interestingly enough, they are beginning to resent Trump for what they see as bowing to the pressure.

My liberal friends are taking the pandemic seriously. They are staying home and encouraging others to stay home. They are listening to all the news channels and experts and drawing interesting and convincing arguments about the severity of the pandemic. Like my conservative friends, they don’t believe the experts and reporters are accurately reporting the numbers, instead they believe the numbers are actually much higher then what is being shared because the U.S. responded late and there aren’t enough tests or accurate tests for everyone to be tested. Initially, my liberal friends continued to blame Trump for this pandemic, but interestingly enough, many of them are now quietly praising Trump for how aggressive he has been in responding. They still don’t like or respect him, they still think he’s a barely literate idiot, but they are appreciative that he’s doing what he can do to try and prevent the spread.

And then there are my normal friends.

They have jobs, or used to. Their kids are in school, or used to be. They have offices and co-workers that they went to and saw everyday, or used to. They had some savings, or used to. Their response to this pandemic is to just keep holding on. They are doing everything they can to hold things together. Some bills aren’t going to be paid this month, they know that. Some of them are running short on food, toilet paper, and essentials and they’re trying to figure what to do about that. They are scared and worried, but they are just trying to take things one day at a time, take care of their families, and figure out what to do next.

But my friends that scare me the most are my Christian friends.

The reason for this is because my Christian friends are also my pastor friends, my political friends, and my normal friends. They are intermingled with every group that I’ve written about. Some are pastors convinced this is temporary. Some are pastors convinced everything’s changed. Some are conservatives convinced this is a scam. Some are liberals who are taking this seriously. Some are just normal people trying to make it through another day.

What scares me about some of my Christian friends is this, through their statements and interactions on Facebook, phone calls, and other means, it’s clear that Jesus might be their savior, but Jesus is clearly not Lord of their life. They are the Lord of their life and while they are forever indebted to Jesus for His sacrifice, they’ve never truly made Jesus the Lord of their life. They are still in control of their thoughts, words, and actions, those have never truly been surrendered to Jesus.

Here’s the point I want to make. You cannot call yourself a Christian and not have Jesus as Lord of your life. It’s just not possible. You cannot claim Jesus’s sacrifice and then retain complete control over how you think or respond or act. When you claim the sacrifice, the old person who controlled everything is gone. A new person is created who has agreed to submit to letting Jesus be Lord of their life. You cannot claim to be new and still live like the old – it’s just not possible and people see right through the hypocrisy.

So this is a wakeup call both for me and for others. Who is really Lord of your life? I hope you say Jesus and I hope that the Lord will grant you the wisdom and discernment to move away from the things you are attempting to control and serve Him faithfully and without question.

To Dream Audaciously

I’ve been thinking about what it means to dream audaciously. This comes, in part, out of a conversation that I had with an individual regarding a mindset of 1950’s or 2050’s when it comes to the church. This individual’s argument was that it was audacious to believe that we could do anything now that would be relevant to the church of 2050.

I’ve thought about his question, and I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt and believe that by audacious he was meaning to show a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks to share the gospel message of Jesus with a hurt and broken world.

Perhaps it is a bit audacious, however, I would contend that perhaps we need to be a bit audacious in order to innovate and create.

Jesus was certainly audacious in communicating his disdain for the religious institution of the time while communicating a message of hope and love to the people of the time. That audaciousness sparked a movement that has forever changed humanity.

Certainly Martin Luther was bit audacious in nailing his 95 thesis to the front door of a church. That audaciousness catapulted the people even further into the arms of God.

I’m confident that John Wesley was considered audacious after being thrown out of churches and continuing to preach in the fields. That audaciousness has led the way in defining the significance of disciplining every individual, regardless of race, gender, education, financial position, etc. so that they can become fully devoted followers of Christ.

Certainly in 1950, drive-In revivals were considered audacious by many traditionalists. But from what I understand, many people came to know Jesus because of them.

Bus ministries were audacious in the 70’s. Could you imagine driving a Bright Blue school bus around to various neighborhoods just to bring kids WITHOUT THEIR PARENTS to Sunday School? I can’t, but I’ve heard story after story of how effective those ministries were.

The same goes for the Seeker-Sensitive movement that started in the 80’s and in many cases still existed up until a few weeks ago. To step away from tradition, to abandon the hymns and attempt to create an environment where people actually enjoyed coming, where the musicians were incredibly well-trained, where pastors preached relevant and timely messages that met people where they were and pointed them to Jesus – that is definitely audacious.

And to dream… in the midst of a pandemic… when fear and uncertainty run rampant throughout our culture… to dream and to ask God to help us in this moment of time to take wild and surprisingly bold risks and to rethink the organizational structures of the church and how and why we do things. To do all that now in the midst of this chaos so that in 30 years the gospel message continues to be spread like wildfire through online churches and micro-churches and who knows what else God will inspire His people, and His under-shepherds to create. That is most DEFINITELY audacious!

So my call to all who may listen, is to be audacious! Dream with me and the others about what the church in 2050 will look like and join with us in creating it! It’s worth the risk!