How to Preach with an iPad

Posted on November 28, 2011


This past Sunday, I had a chance to preach at church. When I preach, my sermon prep and presentation follow a standard routine: I manuscript the sermon, then practice it 3-5 times, and then I preach mostly from memory, only referring to the printed manuscript for Bible verses or for specific wording.

This time I decided to use my iPad for my manuscript in the pulpit, instead of a printed copy.

How I used an iPad to Preach

First, I did all my typing for the manuscript in Pages on both my office desktop and my personal laptop – with Dropbox sync between the two. Once I completed my manuscript, I then formatted the document – larger font, 1.5 line spacing – and exported it to a PDF, which I saved in Dropbox. Next, I opened the Dropbox app on my iPad and found the completed PDF manuscript. I then selected the top right button “Open In” and selected iBooks. I could then navigate through my manuscript with a single finger swipe in iBooks.

The top right button in Dropbox allows you to open a PDF in iBooks

Benefits of using an iPad

  • No printing necessary. I didn’t have to print out my manuscript for the pulpit. Since I do preach a good portion of my sermon from memory, I always thought it was a waste. I must admit: I did print off one copy of my manuscript, but that was for the person in the media booth who was controlling the multimedia slides.
  • Easier to see. Since the iPad is backlit, there is no worry about not seeing it on a stage. It was very clear and easy to read.
  • Quick Bible access. While I still used my physical ESV Bible to read from passages this time, I was tempted to quickly pull up my Bible app and read from that. It would be especially helpful if you wanted to read from multiple translations.

Here's how my sermon looks in iBooks

Downsides to using an iPad

  • No highlights. Since I used iBooks to read my PDF manuscript, I was not able to do any highlighting, which I normally do to my printed manuscript. I am sure there are iPad apps that allow for PDF annotation, but I haven’t used one yet.
  • Remembering to turn off features. Prior to the service, I made sure to turn off the sound, as well as wifi and notifications. I am always paranoid about this; a few years ago I was providing a pastoral prayer during a service and my cell phone rang during the entire prayer!
  • Change the Auto-Lock Time. One very key tip is to change your Auto-Lock Time to either 15 Minutes or Never. Otherwise, you will need to swipe to unlock the screen every few minutes. Also, remember to change that setting back after you preach. The Auto-Lock Time setting is found in Settings > General.

Overall, I was thrilled to use the iPad as my manuscript. It was easy to work with and much easier to read from the stage. It has definitely found a place in my sermon prep and presentation workflow.

Question: How have you used an iPad during a sermon? Will you use it again?

Posted in: Teaching, Technology, Tips