Way back in 2000 Rick Meyers, a successful programmer, released the first version of e-Sword. e-Sword’s a free Bible study program that brought digital Bible study to people who couldn’t afford to buy a program or who wouldn’t consider paying for such software. Fifteen years later, e-Sword now runs natively on a Mac thanks to e-Sword X ($9.99) for Mac.
The e-Sword X looks familiar to e-Sword users. There’s the same basic layout that e-Sword users enjoy, plus some extra touches that take up to the next level. For example, a drop down box in the middle of the top toolbar shows layout options. Turn all the windows on with the Show All Views option. Or just pick one of the other options to see fewer panes on the screen at the same time. The available window panes include…
Editor for notes, journal or topic notes
To download free content click on File and Resources and then Download… or use COMMAND+D. Click on one of the tabs to find the various kinds of books to download and install. Users who purchased content from a third-party publisher, like modern translation or commentaries, click on the item and then click Download. It will offer to let you Recover Product Key, which helps you get the resource without knowing the key itself. This takes the user to that site to log in and get credentials. Hit Validate to enter product keys.
e-Sword X also lets user import files made for use in e-Sword. The software has a large community of users with tools to create resources that work in e-Sword. Import using File, Resources, and Import…. Also add user-created files for things like dictionaries or documents.
The navigation controls in each window pane move around in that kind of resource easily. All panes include a drop down box to select a resource like translations in the Bible pane or commentaries in the Commentary pane and dictionaries in the Dictionary pane.
The Bible window lets users read a Book, compare multiple translations a verse at a time, see parallel Bibles in a tablet with columns for each translation and rows for each verse.
The commentary browser shows Book notes, Chapter notes and Verse notes with tabs for each.
The e-Sword notes feature is simple. Attach notes to the Bible and use right-click to change things like fonts. It could use some sprucing up to make it as good as the competition, but it’s there.
From the Window menu, find some additional resources. That’s where users go for their Bible Reading, Daily Devotional and Reference Books.
The Reference Books shows additional tools like the American Bible Society Maps pictured above. We get E.M. Bounds books on prayer, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and more. You can add resources by downloading them from the Resources menu under File. You can also add your own tools, if you know how to make them, by clicking File, User Files and then Import….
One way to make your own resources is download them from third-party sites dedicated to making e-Sword modules from public domain books. A great site for this is BibleSupport.com. You can add free content from this site. You may need to convert it from the Windows version to the Mac version, but they show you how to do that. You need the converter available at the e-Sword Extras site.
When we started the Theotek Podcast last year, we never thought about the kind of episode we present to you this week. When I invited our guest, I never expected what this week’s show turned out to include. I’m glad it turned out like it did, with big thanks to Tuan Dam our guest who helped make this episode an inspiration.
We welcome Tuan Dam of Cleanint, a company that started out making products to help hospitals overcome germs. This includes the Cleanpen and Clenstethoscope. They solve a key problem in medial places. Germs cause disease and anything we hold with our hands gets germs. Clean your pen and stethoscope and a lot of the disease-causing germs go away.
Tuan branched out into tech with the Cleanstylus, a holder for the Surface Pen that fastens to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 and now the Microsoft Surface 3. That’s how I came in contact with him. He pitched the product to me for review at GottaBeMobile, and I agreed to take a look. I immediately loved it and included it in my list of the best accessories for the Surface Pro 3. They also make one for the iPad. It’s the best accessory for the Surface and Surface Pro 3 that I own, excluding the Surface Pen and the Type Cover.
We didn’t know that Tuan Dam’s company’s began and exists with an incredible mission that’s more than making products for medical professionals and now educators (crumb munchers have germs too). Tuan leverages his company’s influence to change lives for the kingdom of God. He calls it Missional Business. I call it fulfilling the Great Commission the way Jesus intended. I hope you will watch or listen to the most electrifying episode of Theotek Podcast to date and support Cleaning for the kingdom and because it’s leader is a kingdom minded business man.
It’s very tempting to stop wasting paper in favor of digital notes displayed on an Apple iPad or some other tablet, like a Nexus 9 Android tablet or the new Microsoft Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3. I’ll show you how to preach from an iPad or other tablet. This includes the setup of a simple and easy workflow for writing notes and then automatically transferring notes to the tablet to use for preaching or teaching from an iPad or other tablet.
This will work differently depending on what software and hardware you use. However, I’m going to show you the simplest way to do this almost no matter what kind of hardware you use. It requires Microsoft Word and syncing notes via OneDrive built into Microsoft Word.
Setting Things Up
Shop around for an Office 365 personal subscription for around $50-$60. For families, go for the more expensive Office 365 Home, which you can find for around $70-$90 instead of the full $100/year price. These are all annual subscription costs. You may already have it if you bought a new Windows PC in the last year or so. Also, many people buy a computer with the Personal version but don’t need it so they sell them on eBay for under $50. I’ve seen them as low as $26-$30.
If you don’t mind walking on the wild side, try the Office 2016 Technical Preview, which is pretty stable and free until they finally release the full version. It is a technical preview, which means you should avoid if you hate occasional crashes.
The Office 365 subscription lets you install the Office mobile apps on an iPad, iPhone, or Android device. Install OneDrive on the computer and the mobile device. Sign into the Office 365 subscription on both the computer and the mobile device. Copy over all your old sermons and Bible studies to a folder in the OneDrive folder to start syncing them across all your machines and devices. For more details about OneDrive syncing see the Microsoft helps site.
To summarize the steps…
Buy and sign up for an Office 365 subscription using one of the links above
Install Office 365 on the computer or install the Office 2016 Technical Preview.
Install the Office apps for your mobile device.
Install OneDrive on the computer and on the mobile devices (not necessary, but helpful for looking for documents outside of Word)
Copy files from your computer to the OneDrive folder created during the OneDrive for computer installation process (some newer Windows machines come with it integrated into Windows 8.1).
Follow steps below for setting up a useful sermon/Bible study template.
Creating Preaching Notes
With apologies to Dr. Haddon Robinson, my preaching professor at Gordon Conwell, I use notes when I preach to remember what I want to say. He thinks all preachers should preach from memory, but I don’t do that. However, I do not use a full manuscript in the pulpit. That way I can look down, read a short phrase or one word to jog my memory and look at the audience as I preach.
I study in Bible software and record research findings in the notes feature of my favorite Bible study software. However, when it comes to finally putting together the sermon, I use Microsoft Word. It works on both Mac and PC and now comes with versions that run on iPad and most Android tablets. For those of you with great eyes, it will even run on a phone, like an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy Android phone.
Here’s a few tips for making your preaching notes easier to use once you get them on the iPad.
Create a template with styles and keyboard shortcuts
Use the template each time you create sermon/Bible study notes document
In your template reduce the margins to half an inch to maximize screen space since you won’t print this file
Use color to draw attention to major points, sub-points, Bible passages and quotations
Use bullet points and phrases instead of long sentences so you’re not reading notes but using them to jog your memory
Use blank space to show new sections – a new section can come after two or three blank lines or make the headings with space above by default
Now write your sermon. Preachers who preach from a full manuscript should highlight key ideas in the manuscript to quickly and easily draw attention to them. For example, make quotes red and bold or major movements or points of the sermon green (see my screenshot above of a recent Bible study document). Put Bible text in your notes and make it red or some other color.
Once you’ve created the notes, be sure to save them in the OneDrive folder on the hard drive or in the One Drive section of Word 2013 or 2016. This way they will show up in Word for iPad or Word for Android. OneDrive handles the sync process.
Make sure that the OneDrive syncing client installed on the computer is running. It gets shut down mysteriously on my Mac so I have to often start it manually. Once it’s running, right-click on the Menubar icon in Mac or the System tray icon in Windows and open the preferences and check the one that tells OneDrive to open each tim you log onto your Windows or Mac computer. The computer has to connect to Wi-Fi for the syncing to take place. After saving the file, give it a minute to sync before shutting down the computer.
Opening on the iPad or Tablet
It’s time to fire up Word on the iPad or the tablet. If you’re suing and iPad, open the app and look in the Recent files section along the right. If you didn’t already, sign into the same account you signed into in OneDrive and Word on the computer. Give the app a minute after connecting to Wi-Fi or LTE (wireless cellular data service). The document should show up in Recent section.
If the file doesn’t show up in the Recent section, then open it manually from OneDrive. Tap on the Open icon on the left edge. Then tap on OneDrive and drill down to the folder where you stored the document on the computer. It will download the file from OneDrive regardless of which place you open it from. You’re ready to go on to the next section.
For people using Android, it works the same way. Owners of a Windows tablet, like the Microsoft Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 can just open the full version of Word. Make sure it’s signed into the same account used on the desktop or laptop. The Surface 3 or Surface Pro 3 benefits preachers wanting to preach from a tablet, because they can write the notes on the tablet and then later open them in Word on the tablet. They don’t need to worry about the syncing process. Just open the file when you’re ready to preach.
Preaching from a Tablet 101
Here’s a couple of tips for those who preach from an iPad or other tablet. If you’re like me and have bad eyes, turn the tablet to widescreen mode. Open the document as described above and make sure to set zoom in so that the document fills the screen. To do this, tap on the View Ribbon tab at the top of the screen. Then tap on Page Width to automatically resize the text so it fills the screen. For those who don’t have a problem seeing tiny text, go ahead and use it in portrait mode, but still use this trick to make the page fill the screen.
While preaching, swipe through the notes with a finger as you’re preaching instead of turning pages of written notes.
Alternatives to Word and Office 365
Many people will tell you that there’s a cheaper solution available. In fact there’s a number of cheaper solutions. I prefer to use Word, but you don’t have to. Here’s a list of other options that cost less or in many cases nothing.
Mac users can rely on Apple’s Pages which comes preinstalled on all Macs and is free on iPads. This won’t work on Windows or Android.
Google Docs is available free on all systems. Load notes in an Evernote note to preach from it.
Preach from Bible software notes. Olive Tree seems to work best for this, but most of them will do.
Any text editor that opens basic text files. Write in Notepad or WordPad on Windows. Use Notepad or Text Editor on Mac or get an app from the app store.
My friend Antoine Wright from Mobile Ministry Magazine and our Theotek Podcast uses images instead of written text and draws them on his iPad using the Paper app By Fifty-three. See the notes he took from one of my sermons recently.
Which Tablet Should I Buy?
That’s a really hard question, but you can’t go wrong buying an Apple iPad. iOS Bible apps usually work better and come with more features that Android Bible apps with the same name. That’s true for Logos, Olive Tree, WORDsearch, PocketBible and Accordance. In the case of Accordance, there’s no Android version.
Get as much iPad as you can afford. The basic iPad Air 2 model costs $500 and comes with 16GB of storage and no LTE. Add $129 for LTE and add $100 for each step up in storage. So a 64GB iPad Air 2 costs $600 or $729 with LTE. The 128GB iPad Air 2 costs $700 or $829 with LTE. Alternatively get the iPad mini 3. It’s only $400 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only mode. Add the same amounts for LTE and the steps up on storage. To save some money consider shopping around for an older iPad Air or iPad mini 2 or get a used iPad on eBay or Craigslist. Shop in the refurbished store on Apple.com to get an iPad with a full warranty for less.
The best bang for the buck with an iPad is the 64GB models with Wi-Fi only. Most people who own a smart phone can use their smart phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot to get online when away from the home or office. Also, Wi-Fi’s become nearly ubiquitous in most cities in America.
Preachers who need a new laptop and don’t mind a slightly smaller screen should take a close look at the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It’s expensive, but don’t compare the $800+ price to an $500 iPad or a $300 Android tablet. Compare the price to a high-end ultra-portable computer plus an iPad. The new MacBook, a MacBook Air or a Dell XPS 13 compare nicely to the Surface Pro 3 in terms of power and quality. The Surface Pro 3’s actually a lot faster than the new MacBook. Those machines range in price from $800 for an 11-inch MacBook Air to $1,600 for the new MacBook.
Even if you grab a cheap $300 Android tablet, that’s still at least $1,000 and you’ve got a slightly under powered computer and a budget laptop instead of a high-end computer that’s also a tablet with the Surface Pro 3, which replaces both a tablet and a notebook computer in one and handles preaching from digital notes, writing the sermon and using any Bible software without any problems. It also lets users install other great software like Adobe Photoshop or some games.
The new Surface 3 just released this Spring uses a slower Intel Atom processor and measures at only 10 inches instead of 12 inches like the Surface Pro 3. It’s slower, but still does a great job replacing a low-end notebook and a tablet. The quality compares to a $600-$800 Windows laptop and an inexpensive Android tablet that usually costs about $300. You’re saving a lot of money and only need one device to do most of what those two can do.
However, if you still don’t want an iPad, already have a great Windows or Mac desktop and/or laptop, and just want a decent Android tablet, then get a Nexus 9 (read my review). It’s the best Android tablet money can buy and costs $400. Otherwise look at a Samsung Galaxy Tab S ($400) or Samsung Galaxy Note 10 (under $300 street) or Note 12 (under $600). The Note tablets come with a great pen stylus, like the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 uses. The Note 12 also comes with a keyboard making it an option as a 2-in-1 tablet and laptop replacement. You can take notes in meetings on it or do mind-mapping, a great way to plan out sermons visually like my friend Antoine mentioned above. Then hook up the keyboard for typing.
I got an interesting email last night from my editor Kevin Cross of Christian Computing Magazine. He told me that Outreach Magazine acquired us.
If you’re not familiar with Outreach Magazine, they focus on publishing a magazine and website with ideas and products that try to give churches means to reach their community for Jesus Christ. I’ve read it in the past, but not in a little while.
What does it mean for the future of CCMag? First of all, Kevin Cross will continue to be the Managing Editor, and I will still be here as Editor-in-Chief! Outreach didn’t want to “take over” CCMag, but rather purchase us in order to provide us with the tools we need to make the magazine even better!
I’m interested to see what this will do for us or to us. It seems that it means a bigger audience for the authors who write the magazine.
The idea of an online Bible study tool seems enticing to a lot of digital Bible students today. Logos Cloud is a subscription-based Bible study library for anywhere from $9/month to $100/month with the promise of a powerful online web app coming in the future. Are you interested in renting your theological library and using it on the web? Would you pay anywhere from $9 to $100 for it? Would you sign up before Faithlife finishes the online part of the service?
How Much is Logos Cloud
Head on over to LogosCloud.com to find out more about the service. Here’s the basics.
It’s intended for new customers, not people who already own large libraries since they’d essentially be paying to rent what they already own.
The name’s a bit of a misnomer since Logos doesn’t yet offer a robust online solution. For now, even “Logos Cloud” subscribers will want to download and install the desktop app to get the full features of Logos Bible Software.
Not all books will be available since some publishers are stuck in 1991 when there wasn’t an Internet prevalent in society and they don’t want people using digital books for fear they will pirate it, which by the way tempts people to pirate more than they would if said publishers would wake up and get a clue.
The service costs as follows:
Essentials – $8.99 for a basic set of tools in a “small theological library” that focuses on understanding, reading and searching the English Bible.
Plus – $19.99 for some Greek, Hebrew, original manuscripts, and content on early church fathers. Scholars will want to start at this level.
Premium – $49.99 for the Essentials and the Plus levels of Logos Cloud. This adds the full Logos features set and a large collection of media.
We’re not sure yet what subscribers will get for now. We’ll know more after June 1 when free early access starts for those who sign up early. Sign up for the $50 level and you will get early access. Do this by clicking on the button on the LogosCloud.com page that reads: Get free early access. When a person clicks on the green button with that label the next page asks users to share the page via Faithlife’s social network, Twitter, or Facebook. Click Next and this takes users to a page offering to include the person in a Faithlife group devoted to Logos Cloud.
In the “About” section of the Faithlife group for Logos Cloud, we’re told that early access for those who signed up will start on June 1 and end June 30. I suppose early adopters will see the $49.99 charge on their credit cards at that point.
There Should Be Something for Loyal Customers
Faithlife should offer another Logos Cloud subscription level. Owners of large Logos libraries may want more. They should get access to something like the Premium or higher level access for a reduced cost, since such customers will likely already own some or even much of what these levels will offer. I’d certainly change my Logos Now subscription ($8.99/month) over to the Plus or Premium if they cost $20-$30/month.
Logos Web App Not Ready for Primetime
Like Logos Now, the Logos Cloud subscription service comes with access to the online web app. It’s nowhere near ready since many of the features, like the Exegetical Guide, Home Page, Documents Menu and more don’t even work yet. Faithlife just updated the Passage Guide with a rudimentary version. I demoed it on YouTube this week.
I hope the web app gets there, but it’s not really worth $9/month. If you think that Logos Now or Logos Cloud are cloud-based Bible study, you’re wrong. It shows promise, but it’s not there yet.
David Letter will end his tenure as the host of the Late Show with David Letterman this week. It will bring an end to an era for man of us who were fans of David Letterman back in his early days on NBC when he followed Johnny Carson and brought a young and hip brand of snarky comedy to late night television.
The Letterman Era Ends
TV entertainment talking heads debated the reasons Letterman chose to step down.
He’s getting older and its time.
Late night comedy shifted and he got left behind.
Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel grab bigger audiences with a younger and more hip brand of comedy
I loved David Letterman as a teenager. I stayed up way past my bedtime and watched Dave share the top ten list from the home office in whatever medium-sized town in the midwest. Stupid Human Tricks and the funny phone calls from mom made me laugh and I enjoyed them.
I agree with many of the pundits, however, who said that Letterman’s stand-up got tired because younger and more energetic comedians grabbed that young audience still awake at 11:30 p.m., 10:30 central. For the last few years, I quit watching Dave because he seemed to “phone it in.” Since the heart attack that sidelined him years ago, it seems like David didn’t have the heart to give it his all.
Meanwhile Jimmy Kimmel engaged his audience via social media and seldom just stood there telling jokes. He did skits and showed video clips during the opening “monologue” segment. The term monologue is no longer applicable because Kimmel involved his audience at home and a cast of support staff who produced bits on a level Letterman and company never did.
Then Jimmy Fallon took over for another aging late night host who also didn’t keep up. Jay Leno got retired and Fallon took over and took this kind of interactive and team approach to the “monologue” to another level. His YouTube clips drove an even bigger audience and he started to win the time slot.
Like David Letterman, Jay Leno and old-fashioned preaching, there’s a shift in the way communicators talk to people.
Wait. TRADITIONAL PREACHING!? Where did that come from?
End of Traditional Preaching
Let me be clear what I don’t mean by traditional preaching. I’m not addressing Biblical preaching. If the recent Pew Research Center study shows, Biblical Christianity is not struggling like nominal Christianity.
If you haven’t read about it, the Pew Research Center recently produced misleading headlines from gleeful secularists that claimed the numbers showed that Christianity was dying. Upon close examination the numbers say that the mainline denominations are the key reason American Christianity is lagging.
Unbiblical denominations seem to take the Bible as a nice collection of morality stories that offer suggestions for life, but not modern-day applicable norms meant for mature Christianity. Is marriage between a man and a woman? The Bible doesn’t really mean it. Is Jesus the only way like he says? That’s not what he would say today. A modern Jesus would appeal to the masses with a progressive view of family, soteriology and the role of church.
The Pew Research says that people who were calling themselves Christians, like these unbiblical denominations call themselves Christian, no longer do. They are more honest with us or themselves and no longer claim allegiance to the church or our Christ. Their belief finally matches their lifestyle – non-Christian!
Biblical preaching calls for people to get serious about their faith and obey the Jesus as he taught 2,000 years ago, not some diluted version of Jesus. Biblical preaching is thriving while traditional preaching isn’t.
Let me define traditional preaching. A man standing in front of a congregation wearing a suit and tie and speaking to a group of people holding a Bible in their hands passively ingesting the “bread” as they’re “fed.” That’s what I mean by traditional preaching. And it’s dead!
I don’t mean traditional preaching is dead, as in “not being done”. I mean dead, as in “lifeless and boring”. The oft-used quip by my preacher friends says, “I don’t remember what I preached last week. Why should anyone else?” We laugh so we won’t cry. That kind of preaching needs to die, as in go away since it’s already dead as in lifeless and boring.
Let’s kill dead traditional preaching! How can we? I’ll talk about that tomorrow, but for a preview, watch Jimmy Fallon’s next Tonight Show.
On our Theotek Podcast Dan Philips showed off the new features in BibleWorks 10. We hope you will watch the broadcast which we recorded on May 15, 2015 as we do every Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. ET.
If you’re not familiar with BibleWorks, it’s a text focused and powerful Bible study tool. They don’t clutter up the program with a lot of modern commentaries or other non-Biblically focused books. Instead, buyers just get great and powerful Bible study tools. It’s the best option for hardcore scholars of the Bible who don’t want to spend thousands on a digital library of books.
The company did make a concession to users who want more than what BibleWorks traditionally publishes for inclusion in their software. They’re never going to add a book like Ed Stetzer’s church growth titles. Now, if a user buys and ePub version of these kinds of books, they can read them using the new ePub Reader.
Buy Christian ePub books at places like CDB or ChristianBook.com. I went ahead and bought one and loaded it in BibleWorks 10 to test out the feature. It works great.
To load an ePub, click on the ePub tab in one of the analysis windows on the right. Then click on the Open/Import button on the toolbar. This shows a list of all ePub books in the BibleWorks 10 library. The list is empty until you first import a book. Click on the Import button and find the book on your hard drive. This puts the book in your library, but doesn’t yet open it. Before you open it, make sure you add it to a category. There’s a button with three dots. Click it and a drop down list shows the Assign category to selected books flyout menu item. Now add the book to one of the BibleWorks categories. The category shows up in the Category column of the ePub library list. Now click on the title of the book and the Load button.
The library window lets users sort their books by Title, Author and Category. Click on the heading of the column to do that. Users can also show only books in a certain category making it easier to find books if the user has a large ePub library. Click on the Show only: drop down box.
Official BibleWorks 10 Videos
Watch the official BibleWorks intro videos of all the new features in BibleWorks 10.
Danker’s Lexicon is a new Lexicon in BibleWorks 10. Find it in the Resources tab of the Analysis window. The currently loaded verse will show up with all the entries from the lexicon will show up in the list. Scroll down to find it.
BibleViews shows ancient culture in a visual way. Open it from the Resources menu. Click on Pictures and then BibleViews. It looks like a Windows help file. There’s a tablet of contents listing all the topics in the BibleViews Picture Library. Users can also search it from the Search tab in the column on the left.
Some items just show a picture while others give a some text explaining it. If there’s a Bible verse in the description it’s a hyperlink that the user can open by clicking or hovering over it.
New User Lexicon Feature
Now in BibleWorks 10 users can create their own lexicon. This means I can grab content from various tools and collect them in one place. The my lexical entry for that word will then show up any time I find that word in another place. This makes it possible for translators to work once and reuse their translation elsewhere.
Audio of Greek and Hebrew Bibles
Two new sets of audio files reads the NA27 in verse-by-verse recordings and the Byzantine Text in chapter-by-chapter recordings. Open these from the those books when they’re showing in the Browse window. Right click a verse and choose one or the other from the pop up menu.
Other New Features
The BibleWorks Manuscript Project added some new manuscripts to the tool. This gives scholars a look at the ancient manuscripts without going to them around the world. One of the cool new features is the tagging. Each manuscript gets tagged with the verse it’s showing. Open a Bible and the open manuscript will scroll along with the text of the Bible.
People who teach or preach showing the BibleWorks interface will love the screen scaling feature. It zooms the text and buttons so they can be seen on a projector from the back of the room.
The new user-interface color options show up in two places. The window colors and highlighting of text and parts of speech to make it easy to see the grammar of the text visually. For example, certain morphology tags get one color while others get another.
There are a number of new resources including…
New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS)
Samaritan Pentateuch (SMP)
Friberg Analytical Greek New Testament (AGNT)
ESV Concise Bible Atlas from 2010 and 2012
More languages like Vietnamese, Norwegian, Modern Hebrew etc.
We’ve only covered some of the biggest new features. To learn about every new feature, see the BibleWorks website that lists each feature added or updated in BibleWorks 10.
The Microsoft Surface 3 came out and a couple of our team members got one. Rick Mansfield and I talk about our impressions of Microsoft’s new tablet and how it works as a Bible study tool.
The Surface 3 discussions led us to talking about what kind of computer we recommend users buy for their church. We take another stab at it here with recommendations for a computer for the sanctuary, the pastor and the church secretary.
Subscribe to the Theotek Podcast
Listen to the episode #023 of the Theotek Podcast below or watch the YouTube version of our Google Hangout on Air above. We record the podcast every Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. ET using Google Hangouts on Air. You can get notices of them by subscribing to our YouTube channel or the blog email newsletter. You can also get it on Stitcher Radio or on iTunes.
A Computer for the Church Secretary
In one sense almost any computer will do. The key for a church secretary is being able to work on office documents, print things like bulletins and newsletters, work on the books and handle all the tasks he or she will need to do. So here’s our specific recommendations.
Most people already know Windows, so find a decent desktop system since they don’t cost as much. If someone at the church can work on desktop systems, install a hard drive and install an operating system, then get the Lenovo ThinkServier TS140 and then put in a fast 256GB SSD. Buy a copy of Windows. This makes for a speedy system that can do dual display with two DisplayPort out ports on the back and 6 USB ports on back and two on front. The reason I’m recommending a server is because it’s fast, powerful and costs just $260 on Amazon. Install this 240GB Kingston SSD for under $90 and buy a copy of Windows 7 for under $70 for a total of $420. All you need is a keyboard, mouse and monitor which she likely already has.
The 21-inch iMac makes a great option for the Mac lover manning the church office. It starts at just over $1,000 and handles everything the average office user would need.
The MacBook Air plugged into an external monitor and keyboard/mouse can serve as a desktop that’s also portable. It handles all the office work well too. Don’t use one unless you get a larger screen monitor too.
Surprise! Antoine suggests no PC at all. Instead he suggests the secretary using an iPad. That’s a novel choice and we’ll let you ask him directly how in the world he thinks she can really get all of her work done on a 10-inch display that doesn’t run anything more than apps. She’ll likely need a Bluetooth keyboard to go with it and may want a display plus the adapter to plug it in or the Apple TV hooked up so she can do screen mirroring to a larger screen.
A Computer for the Pastor
Pastors need something that portable so they can take it home, on the road or put it on their desk. They also need a little more power since many pastors will want to promote their church with video, pictures and maybe audio of their sermons. That’s why all three of our team suggests a laptop/two-in-one computer.
Since my friends will likely push the MacBooks, I’ll suggest the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It’s an awesome computer. Wait and MS will likely release a new version (Surface Pro 4 possibly) in the coming months. It’s a surprising fast, powerful and easy to use system that doubles as a tablet and laptop.
Add the excellent Microsoft Dock and hook up a monitor, keyboard and mouse and you get a desktop too for a few hundred dollars more.
Rick also suggests the MacBook Air for the Apple fans or the Surface Pro 3 for the Windows users.
The new MacBook will fit well, but might not come with enough power. That’s why a MacBook Pro will always fit.
Antoine also likes the Surface Pro 3 for the Pastor. That’s the trifecta!
A Computer for the Sanctuary
The sanctuary computer needs more power than either the pastor or the secretary. According to Memory Tree of Austin such a system will need at least two video outputs and a dedicated graphics card will help keep it from stalling while playing video and presenting graphics. Some people also use the same computer to record audio and video and stream the worship service online. I recommend getting two if you do all that. Hook up one to the sound system and record the audio and stream the video using that computer. Display the lyrics using software like MediaShout or ProPresenter, which handles lyrics, Bible verses, graphics, video and audio files.
The Lenovo recommended for the secretary will also work in the sanctuary. Install a good video card to get the two outputs for driving the screen and the monitor connected for the operator.
Wes uses the MacBook Air, which starts at $899 for the 11-inch machine. It’s a great system for churches with simpler needs. Wes uses open source church presentation software so it doesn’t require a lot of horsepower. I think most people will prefer the 13-inch system because it gives them more room for sowing the presentation user-interface. He suggests adding an external hard drive for media storage.
The 27-inch iMac brings plenty of power and screen real-estate for running presentations and doing multi-tasking like recording or streaming the service while presenting and controlling the sound board.
When we asked Antoine what he suggests for the worship computer, he said, “None.” He suggested only hooking up a Chromecast ($35) or a Tronsmart Miracast dongle (under $30 and connects via HDMI) to a projector. Of course he meant that the church should use either the pastor’s or secretary’s tablet to cast or wirelessly display their content over the projector.
The Apple Watch is out and a few Bible apps wants to put the Bible on your watch. We talk about that and some other new developments in Bible software and more church tech on this week’s episode of the Theotek Podcast #022: Apple Watch This. LaRosa Johnson, a former regular on Theotek and a member of the Olive Tree team also joined us during the second half.
I found that Olive Tree isn’t the only game in town on the Apple Watch. In fact the Bible app from LifeChurch and YouVersion also has an Apple Watch app. There are a number of others too.
We also talked about Stephen Johnson’s new ESV Bible app. He also Tweeted about it running on Apple Watch.
Here’s a screenshot. The app does more than it used to, thanks to the great coding of Stephen.
Rick and I will be getting our Surface 3 tablets and we’ll talk about them next time. Mine’s in and I really like it.
The crew also discussed Microsoft’s wish to turn your phone into a desktop replacement. Hook up a Windows 10 phone to a display, keyboard and mouse or a dock with those things connected, and you can replace a desktop using the phone as the PC instead.
Android already lets you do this. Hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Either connect an HDMI display or wirelessly cast the screen using a Chromecast or Miracast receiver, remember to use nothing but top glass protectors to take care of your watch. This gives you a desktop style functions with the same Android user-interface.
While LaRosa Johnson was with us, he discussed Bibletek. He didn’t mention his new book Raw Material. Get it on Amazon. It’s a nice basics for the Christian disciple.