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.