Legend has it that John MacArthur has never typed a single sermon. After 40+ years of prolific preaching, every jot and tittle flows from the nib of what must be an astonishingly robust fountain pen.
Similarly, my novelist hero, Jeffery Archer (no relation) laboriously pens his 400 page productions with a fastidious average of 14 drafts per chapter. Each one transcribed with a ballpoint pen. He’s spawned dozens of books– tens of thousands of pages– in this meticulous manner. He confessed wryly to a friend of mine, who met him at a book signing, that his antiquated method drains the life of no fewer than six pens per project.
Likewise, John Piper’s preaching notes are manually penned and notoriously illegible. I’ve encountered chicken-scratches in a coop that appear more pulpit friendly.
Even some younger preachers are too timid to sample the new technology. Several of my fellow pastors still write out their sermons, eschewing the use of a word processor, much less an iPad. I wonder what they feel about the newfangled ideas of indoor plumbing and electric light bulbs?
Admittedly, I too suffered from the enslaving scourge of technophobia. I have in my unenlightened years re-inked a particular silver bullet sermon seven times for seven different occasions.
I cited the vintage ways of stalwarts in the preaching fraternal as justification for my inertia to try new methods. But now that I’ve made the switch, I won’t go back as long as electrons flow in our world. Memories of my antediluvian ways now make me cringe.
Here is why I hate handwritten notes…
I have frequently remembered a fuzzy fragment of a quote, or an indistinct part of an illustration, or a word study that I did a few years ago, but can’t recall where I saw it. But if it was typed into my sermon notes, or even the research notes I keep stashed on my hard drive for perpetuity, a simple Ctl+F search exhumes what I need with cheerful rapidity, saving me hours of thumb-numbing scouring of my library.
2. You can’t easily cut-and-paste the gems.
As with the above point, there have been times when a word study, definition, chain of cross-references, or eloquent Puritan quote can be
recycled resurrected for a new sermon, even several years later.
The finger-ritual “Ctl+C – Ctr+V” has saved me innumerable hours of typing. Not only is your own material eagerly awaiting redeployment, but a sumptuous quote culled from the Internet or Logos can be effortlessly dragged straight into your sermon. And these days software can, like a cohort of elves, magically help you format and footnote it for further reference.
3. You can’t easily share handwritten notes.
Unlike its paper counterpart, an e-version of your sermon is, like a racehorse in the gates, perpetually chomping to be dispatched to others. Your work can readily be broadcast to Facebook followers, shared with blog readers, uploaded to a website database, e-mailed to congregation members, etc.
4. You can’t easily back them up.
Of course, all notes can get destroyed or deleted. But e-copies can easily (and ought always to be) backed-up on various flash drives kept in several geographically dispersed locations. To lose my notes now, Satan would need to destroy 5 hard drives on 2 continents– and the Internet.
Before my iPad, I used to lug my six most dog-eared “sugar-stick” sermons with me in case I was spontaneously called upon to preach. But in various settings they have proven inadequate. A more suitable sermon can be within clicking distance on a flashdrive, CD, or iPad.
6. You can’t ever use them on your iPad!
I, of course, shan’t attempt to make a theological case why you should use an iPad. But since God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy,” (1 Tim 6:17) I can at least proffer the tongue-in-cheek case of why you could use it. Just like a carpenter takes pleasure in using quality tools, or a guitarist favors a particular brand of instrument, preachers are entitled to their private little pleasures in the pulpit. I love the craft of preaching, and I enjoy every step of the sermon’s inception, incubation, and delivery. The iPad is merely a luxuriant garnish to round off the experience.
For my post on how to format your notes and set up an iPad for preaching, see Adam’s Apple: Preaching from an iPad.
And if you’re wondering why I kept inserting the annoying “easily” in each point, it’s because a megachurch pastor may have all the above abilities at his disposal. He can employ an army of interns, secretaries, executive pastors, and other willing minions to do what could be done by a single laptop.
If you have any objections to this post, please have the integrity to write them down, lick a stamp, and mail them to me