Update: since writing this, I have upgraded my Goodreader app to the new version which allows pdf annotation. I also took the advice of the comments and I now use Dropbox to sync. This eliminates 2 steps.
And I have added a diatribe of Why I Hate Handwritten Sermon Notes.
Yes, I preach from an iPad. I could say it’s to save trees. Twelve half-sheets per sermon add up over a planned 40 year career of 2 sermons per Sunday. I could say I appreciate the convenience of having an arsenal of dozens of sermons, an ESV Bible, and a library of commentaries with me when I travel. Or I could even say that I only own it because one was given as a gift. But the naked truth is that I simply love preaching from my iPad. Specifically the simple, silent swipe of the page, the use of variegated font colors, and the safeguard against getting my notes out of order or blown away by wind or a poorly positioned fan (yes, I have forgiven that deacon). I realize these are tiny, inconsequential luxuries which no one needs. But like Paul, I have learned to be content in plenty and in want.
I’m the guy word-of-mouth viral marketing campaigns rely on. If I eat at a great restaurant, I tell everyone I know they MUST try it. If I relish an insightful book, I Tweet it. When I find an audio trove of expository gold, like the vein of ore at calvarybiblechurch.org (see how I did that), I upload a gig of Jack Hughes’ sermons onto my friends’ Nanos, often without their consent. What can I say, I like to share. Unlike King David’s quip to Arunah, I have no conscience pangs when giving away that which cost me nothing.
Here is how I do it. If you have a better system, please share:
Step 1: Be the right person.
All good books on preaching start with a section on the character of the preacher. I tip my hat at this noble practice by reminding you that if you brandish your iPad to complement the trendy hipster image you are carefully cultivating like a hidden hydroponic hemp garden, know this: God knows your heart, and your people will soon smell the stale odor of your pretentiousness. Your iPad, like a ninja, should be undetectable to your congregation. If you pace the platform like a techno-peacock, toting your e-notes into plain sight, then you need to go back to your paper library and read the first chapter of all your preaching books. Be the right person.
Step 2: Type and format your sermon in a word processor on a computer, getting the size and color of your page ready. The problem with AppleTM is that when you get enough geniuses together to create a product as cool as the iPad, they’re also going to be smart enough to make sure you need their other products. The iPad is not yet equipped to use instead of a computer. They could do it for us, and eventually will I trust, but for now you need the power of a good word processor, with Logos/BibleWorks poised in your periphery window like a ball-boy at Wimbledon.
I use MSWord. I adjust the page layout to be “2 pages per sheet” in landscape mode on a regular A4 or (8.5” x 11”) page, with margins of 1cm (or half inch) all round. Also make sure you insert page numbers into this document. You may need that while preaching on the iPad.
I choose a blue screen background with automatic font color, which is white. I also change the font color to yellow (not highlight) of each main point or sub-heading. This color combo is the most visible on the iPad with glare from stage lights or outside daylight (e.g. at graveside funerals), and can be used in the dark without any glow on your face making you look freaky (e.g. if there is a blackout in the evening service, which happens in South Africa and I’m sure in other parts of the globe as far as the curse is found).
When you are done with your sermon, save the document as a PDF (this will be required if you want to swipe the page to turn it).
iAnnotate allows you to mark up a PDF and add text or emphasis markers, and to underline or strike through text. This is very useful for those times a verse pops into your mind on the way to church, or someone asks you to announce the ladies committee meeting, or if your worship leader goes too long and you need to delete 2 paragraphs and make a note to fire him. iAnnotate
Good Reader is a PDF reader that allows you to swipe the page to turn it, rather than the annoying and impractical scrolling of most document readers.
Step 4: Connect your iPad to your computer and use iTunes to go to the “Bob’s iPad” tab on the left, and then the “Apps” tab at the top. Scroll down until you see, under “File Sharing” the icons of your apps which can be used to read the PDF. Click on iAnnotate and then click on “Add…” at the bottom of the page. This will let you browse to find your PDF sermon, and double-click on it to add it to your iAnnotate. The sync is automatic.
Step 5: You are now ready to go to church. I leave the sermon in iAnnotate for as long as possible, in case I think of something to add. By selecting iAnnotate on your iPad, you can find your sermon, scroll down through it before you preach and go over your notes. If you want to underline or strike out text, or add thoughts, this is the stage to do that.
Usually, as the last set of songs are being sung before I go up to preach, I surreptitiously select “Open in…” from the iAnnotate sermon, and it gives me options of other apps I have that can read it. I select Good Reader, select the “Annotated version” and it opens automatically in Good Reader, with the notations I made in iAnnotate.
Now the document cannot be altered, but I can swipe the page to turn it. This is what I preach from.
1. Be disciplined to not put your finger on the screen as you read a quote. When you touch the middle of the screen it may act weird by flipping a page or zooming in or something. You can also disable the “Double-tap for zooming” setting.
2. Paste the verses from Logos into your notes so they are there for future reference, in case you need to repreach it with no Bible, or it’s too windy, or too dark to read your Bible, BUT as a rule take your Bible into the pulpit so your people see you use it, and flip around in it like they do, otherwise they might not turn to the passages you are cross referencing, because you aren’t, and you’re not giving them enough time to.
3. Adjust the time it takes for the page to autolock from the regular 5 mins to 10 or 15 mins. You don’t want the screen to black-out if you happen to camp on a point for longer than you thought you would. Go to Settings, General, Auto-lock to adjust it.
4. Be sure to hit the mute switch on the top right edge to avoid e-mail alerts chiming while you preach.
5. If you preach in a wireless zone, you will need to disable wireless prompts beforehand, or it will keep popping up asking if you want to join the network. This also saves battery life.
6. Ensure enough battery power for the length of your sermon. There is no quick-fix for a dead battery. You may need to adjust when your iPad warns you. I get a warning at 20%, but I never go into the pulpit with less than 70% charged, and have never had the 20% prompt pop up. I use the iPad 1, so the batter life is vastly better from what I’ve been told; I can preach at least four 45min sermons when its been fully charged.
Again, if you have a better idea on how to do this, or have unearthed superior apps, please post in the comments. I am searching for a PDF reader that lets me annotate and swipe the page. This would eliminate a cumbersome step and streamline the efficiency. Enjoy.