Practical Tips From Five Years of Preaching

iPad preaching is becoming commonplace. I’ve been using an iPad to preach since mid-2011. I just use a single page outline with only scripture references, the essential big ideas and any quotes/statistics that I need to reference. If anything doesn’t fit on the one page, it gets cut.

Turn off notifications.

The only thing worse than a cell phone ringing in the middle of a prayer is the preacher’s iPad ringing in the middle of a prayer. Make sure to turn on the Do Not Disturb switch in Settings. I also turn on Airplane Mode just to make sure I don’t have anything popping up from Wi-Fi.

At one location where I preached, there was a very weak Wi-Fi signal that I didn’t have the password to. A Wi-Fi connection message kept popping up while I was preaching.

You don’t want any distractions from the message God has given you.

Turn off auto-lock.

I have forgotten to do this a few times. Five minutes into the message my iPad blacked out. It totally threw me off.

I had to pause what I was saying, open the iPad and swipe to unlock before resuming the message. This is even worse if your iPad is password protected.

Always make sure to open up Setting > General > set Auto-Lock to Never

Lower the brightness.

If the stage is dark and the brightness is too high, your iPad will make your lectern glow. In addition, your face will light up like you are telling scary stories around a campfire. If you wear glasses, the iPad can also reflect off your lenses.

Eliminate this distraction. Adjust brightness accordingly. The goal is easy readability for you while glowing low enough so the audience doesn’t notice.

A cool trick that many people don’t know is that you can invert the colors on the iPad to make the screen dark. In Settings, tap General, then Accessibility, and switch Invert Colors to On. (A great tip is that you can set up a triple click of the home button to invert colors to save time. Settings > General > Accessibility > then triple click.)

Do not draw attention to your iPad.

Don’t show off your new gadget. Don’t say, “Look at this amazingly awesome piece of technology. Don’t you wish you were as cool as me?” You are not an Apple commercial. This is a tool to help you as you proclaim God’s message. Don’t let the iPad become a distraction from the main focus.

I recommend getting a case that covers the logo. I use an amazing case that looks like a vintage book. I definitely recommend it.

Use a PDF reader app for your notes.

I love having an editable Pages doc in case I want to make last second changes, but hate preaching off the Pages app. One wrong tap and you deleted your notes and brought up the editing tools or keyboard. It can be highly distracting—a PDF viewer eliminates distractions and keeps it simple.

You can easily convert a Pages doc to a PDF. Tap the wrenchlooking Tools icon in the upper right corner. Hit Share and Print, then Open in Another App. Choose PDF as a format, then Choose App. You will then have the option to select any app that handles PDFs.

Some people like using free apps like iBooks or Kindle. However, my favorite is GoodReader, because it lets me add notes, highlight text (I color code illustrations, scripture, videos, etc.), and crop the document to eliminate margins and make the text larger and more readable. It’s worth the extra couple of bucks, in my opinion.

Still carry a Bible.

This is just a personal preference, but I still like to have a physical Bible on stage with me.

Yes, I read and study the Bible almost entirely online or in my iPad or iPhone, but I find that there is just something powerful about a preacher holding a physical Bible. It shows the audience that your authority comes from God, not Steve Jobs.

Make sure the iPad is fully charged.

Always make sure your iPad is fully charged. You do not want the battery dying mid-sermon. Have a charger with you just in case you need a last-minute power up before walking onto stage.

Fortunately, the iPad has such an incredibly long battery life that this has rarely been a problem for me.

Have a backup.

Always, always, always have a backup. Either a physical copy of your notes or a Dropbox/Evernote/Google Doc you can pull up with your phone. You never know when technology might fail you. The battery could die unexpectedly, you could accidentally spill coffee on it or it might freeze up for no reason on you.

Always be prepared just in case. I have had to pull out my backup a few times (more on that in lesson number 9).

Don’t leave your iPad unattended.

I set my iPad down one time—just once! I forgot about it, walked away, and when I came back it was gone! Someone had the nerve to steal my iPad only two minutes before I stood up to preach!

I was upset, but not as upset as I would have been if I didn’t have a backup. That is a $400 mistake I will never make again! Just because you are in church doesn’t mean that someone won’t give into the temptation to steal an easy target.

Don’t have an open beverage next to your iPad.

I’m all about baptism by full immersion—just not for my iPad!

If enough liquid spills on an iPad, it is game over. You don’t want an open water bottle on your lectern. You might get excited while preaching, swing your arms around and accidentally knock it over.

Not only will you lose your iPad, you will have to explain to the elders why you cussed on stage. (Just kidding.)

This article can be read in the February 2017 issue of Ministry Tech Magazine.