Sermon Prep Part 5: Theotek Podcast #069

We’re in the home stretch in our series on writing your sermons and Bible studies using digital tools like Bible study software or online Bible sites. This episode covers tips and trips for actually writing the sermon outline or manuscript. How can digital BIble study tools help in forming your notes and outline?

Some of this can be done on an iPad. The new iPad Pro plus the Microsoft Word iPad app makes it easier than ever. See below.

Pur the tablet in landscape mode and tap the View Ribbon tab and tap Page Width.
Pur the tablet in landscape mode and tap the View Ribbon tab and tap Page Width.

Sermon Prep Part 3: Theotek Podcast

In part 3 of the Sermon Prep series on Theotek, we covered digital reference books. Each member of the team recommends our favorite tools like Bible dictionaries, lexicons, and more.

For review we covered the first steps of sermon prep in part one of our series. Then in

We started out with English Bible dictionaries. Here’s a list of what we recommended.

  • Anchor Bible Dictionary
  • IVP Bible Dictionary
  • Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary
  • Biblical Archaeology Review
  • Hermeneia
  • Bible Illustration from Holman
  • Accordance Photo Guide
  • Wikipedia
  • CCEL
  • Harper’s Bible Dictionary
  • Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs

Here’s a couple of Bible Background sources we prefer. These help you get at the cultural information that tells us more about the world of the Biblical writers.

  • Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary
  • Accordance Atlas – one of the best digital atlas resources in Bible software

Next we look at Bible commentaries. The series that we each picked included…

  • Word Biblical Commentary
  • Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary
  • New American Commentary
  • Ancient Christian Commentary
  • IVP Bible Background Commentary
  • JPS Commentary

best commentaries

To find the best sources, we all agree that just one series isn’t the best approach to building a good library of commentaries. Instead check out Best Commentaries on the web. It lists the commentaries by book of the Bible and rates the best options available. They update it when new works come out.

Our Favorite Things

visual theology

I recommend Visual Theology, a work that Olive Tree released recently.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 9.49.54 AM

Antoine recommended the Google Cardboard, their inexpensive Virtual Reality tool that the user can put their phone into to get a VR experience. There are other VR options like Samsung Gear VR, which I don’t recommend. The children’s version comes from Mattel and uses the old View Master idea.

Rick went the opposite direction and shared one of his least favorite things. He doesn’t like the 12-inch MacBook. The screen’s nice but the keyboard doesn’t feel very good and performance suffers when doing more than word processing or surfing the web.

Sermon Prep Part Two: Theotek Podcast #066

It’s part two of our sermon prep series using Bible software to help us write a message. This week just Rick Mansfield and I tackle a little used tool – the passage outline. We show how to do so in a few BIble software packages and talk about doing it in the Notes tool of any program.

We looked at the outlining features of both Accordance Bible Software and Logos. You can also do one of these in the notes tool of any Bible software that includes one. Just copy and past the text into the note and use the space or tab keys and the return button to arrange the text on-screen in way that shows the relationship of the ideas.

logos bible outline

For a good book on how to do good Bible passage outlines in English, see The 12 Essential Skills of Great Preaching by Dr. Wayne McDill, my preaching professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Digital Sermon Prep Part 1: Theotek Podcast #065

We started a series in this week’s Theotek Podcast on doing digital sermon prep. Our team will take you through our steps of sermon prep using Bible software and digital tools.

In this first step we focused on choosing a passage. Software packages come with tools to help you figure out what verses to include in your passage, or as the scholars call it, pericope. Then we look at other aspects of sermon prep. Watch the video below or listen to the audio version at the end of this post.

We didn’t have any recommendations in Our Favorite Things this week.

Online Bible Study: Theotek Podcast #055

Can you prepare your sermons using online Bible study sites? We try to answer that question and give a few recommendations if you choose to give it a try. At the end of the podcast we also give a few recommendations in our new segment, “Our Favorite Things”.

We only had three of our team members in this podcast. Rick Mansfield works with Accordance Bible Software and didn’t think that online Bible study sites were good enough to do full sermon prep yet. Users often don’t have access to the Internet or they don’t have a reliable connection. Most of the online sites don’t give users enough power to do serious word study. Most them include limited options for commentaries and word study tools. The ones included usually are only public domain works.

Antoine Wright from Mobile Ministry Magazine was a little more bullish since he’s a mobile-first kind of guy. He recommended a site called Bible Web App. It suffers from the same weaknesses of the other online sites with limited options and mostly public domain. It’s fast and clean and does most of what Antoine needs.

The Logos Web App available to Logos Now or Logos Cloud subscribers.
The Logos Web App available to Logos Now or Logos Cloud subscribers.

I like online sites and use a few. Last year I reviewed 6 online Bible sites in a two-part post. You can find part one and part two to see the video demos of the 6 sites (three in each post). Two of the sites I reviewed are no longer my favorites. Instead of My Study Bible from WORDsearch and Lifeway, I now recommend their new site MyWSB.com. Second, Logos has a site for subscribers to either their Logos Now or Logos Cloud services. Learn more about Logos Now in a recent post and Logos Cloud in another post.

lumina

The online sites from WORDsearch and Logos above will cost you a little bit. The best option for those looking for a free site comes from Bible.org. It’s called Lumina.

Our Favorite Things

hyperdrive usb-c dock

In “Our Favorite Things” this week we recommended some apps, a utility and an accessory. Rick recommended a USB C dock for the new 12-inch MacBook (not the Air or Pro). It’s the HyperDrive USB Type-C 5-in-1 Hub with Pass Through Charging for $50. It connects to the USB C port on the MacBook and adds ports for an SD card, micro-SD card, 2 USB 3.0 ports and a USB Type-C port for charging or hooking up a 4K video adapter.

Antoine recommended a list of Lent Apps he put together on his website.  They can help Christians who observe Lent.

DisableMonitor-running-in-osx-menu-bar-1024x333

My recommendation comes from github. It’s a free utility that helps the user switch their MacBook screen resolution. It’s called DisableMonitor and runs in the OS X menu bar. A drop down box shows all the resolutions your monitor supports. This gives you far greater control over the screen resolution settings than the built-in Display Settings in System Preferences in OS X. I wrote up a full How To post on it at Notebooks.com.

Finding Sermon Illustration Content on Theotek Podcast #054

Looking for a good sermon illustration your next sermon idea? We talk about our process and then recommend some sources for explaining, proving and showing what application of our messages looks like.

In the old days our preaching professors taught us how to manage a sermon illustration database. We had file cabinets or notebooks or file folders with clippings from the paper or photo copies of books we read. Then people started putting these on their computers with software like the program sold by the original makers of QuickVerse Bible Software. Bible Illustrator linked some databases of illustrations to the Bible text from QuickVerse and made them searchable via keyword. Others put them in the old Cards application that came pre-installed with Windows 3.1. A lot of people put them in a word processor or text file. Then the Bible software companies started to include sermon illustration databases in their programs. We showed some books like this available in Accordance Bible Software. Logos and WORDsearch and most of the other big names in Bible software offer these collections.

Unfortunately, most of the sermon illustration books or databases available online, in Bible software or even in book form totally stink. They’re stories from the 1800s or incredibly generic. How many times do we find one that doesn’t fit, but it’s close and it’s really good.

Listen below or watch the YouTube video of our podcast above and learn how we find fresh content from our own experiences, from a Google search or pictures and video files that make that sermon illustration come to life.

ipad pro apple pencil

Preaching With an iPad Pro: Theotek Podcast #046

What is the new Apple iPad Pro like for studying the Bible, preaching or teaching? Rick Mansfield (@thislamp and thislamp.com) got one this week and we asked him a lot of questions about using it. Watch or listen below to hear his thoughts.

Just a summary of Rick’s conclusions. First, he likes the side-by-side feature so that he can hold his Accordance Bible app next to Microsoft Word. This will help with both Bible study and preaching. The Keynote app and Word can sit on-screen at the same time. He uses the notes feature in Keynote, but after the podcast was over he tested and found out that you can run a Keynote presentation mirrored to an Apple TV and open Word in side-by-side mode.

ipad pro apple pencil

Second, he tested out the iPad keyboard and looks forward to getting one to use. He didn’t like the Logitech keyboard case as much because it seems harder to remove from the iPad Pro.

We talked about the Pencil, which is hard to come by until December. Wes tested it out at his local Apple Store and found that it was a great experience. They’ve done a good job of making it work well and feel more like writing on paper than older styli.

At the end of the podcast I shared some first impressions of using the Apple TV 4th generation. It’s a nice media device and the remote is both good and bad. Siri works great and AirPlay still works as well as before.

iPad Sermon Preperation: Tools Apps and Tips

Ever thought about doing a little iPad sermon prep?

A lot of preachers carry around an iPad or some other tablet these days for checking email, surfing the web, playing games, streaming video or taking notes. Many of us also use them for simple Bible study on the go. However, can a preacher study and prepare an entire sermon or Bible study using no other device than an iPad? In other words, from start to finish, ignore their laptop or desktop computer and commit entirely to iPad sermon prep?

ipad

If you’ve ever been tempted to retire the laptop and get out of the office, this is for you. Let’s look at the following:

  • Tools needed to use an iPad or other tablet for reading, studying and preaching the Word of God
  • Apps that will help the preacher study, organize and then write their sermon/Bible study
  • Tips for doing all of this well

So grab your iPad and read on…

Accessories Needed for iPad Sermon Preparation

First, grab a Bluetooth keyboard if you’re serious about iPad sermon preparation. Some people may want to use their iPad’s software keyboard, but typing on a screen doesn’t work as well as typing on a physical keyboard. Connect your keyboard to the iPad using Bluetooth. It’s simpler and easier than trying to connect one using USB. Also, the battery on my iPad doesn’t run out that fast and I never turn Bluetooth off.

You can choose from three styles of keyboards.

  • Keyboard case integrated with your iPad case.
  • Full-size case that the user carries along with their iPad.
  • Small, foldable or roll up keyboard.

Each comes with strengths and weaknesses. According to Gear For Gaming, the case approach gives us an all-in-one package to carry around. However, the user’s still holding the keyboard when they’re not using the case. We’ve got a recommendation that fixes this problem.

Using a full-size keyboard gives the user a better typing experience. We’ve got two recommendations that feel great while typing and let the user hook up to three different devices. That lets you type on a tablet and a phone and then put it on the desk at home and use the same keyboard with your desktop. We’ll explain how this works later.

Taking along a full-sized keyboard means less convenience and portability. It’s too many things to carry. A laptop with a keyboard attached might work better. Still, read on because we’ve got a couple of suggestions that are still very portable.

The final option is smaller than a full-sized keyboard. These are small foldable keyboards that often fit in your pocket. They are hard to type on quickly.

First, look for a Bluetooth keyboard and second decide which of three styles you think you’d prefer. The best keyboard cases come from Logitech because they’re thin and light. They usually feel great while typing.

blok-protects-keyboard-case-for-ipad-air2

Logitech just released the Logitech Blok case. It looks a lot like Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with its kickstand back. The keyboard fits on the tablet along with the snug and thin case. When it’s time to type open it up and even detach it so the screen’s not too close. This also means you can remove it while using your iPad as a tablet only.

People who prefer a full-sized keyboard should look at the Apple Bluetooth Keyboard ($69) and get a carrying case for it or get one that will hold both the iPad and the keyboard.

k810-mac-gallery-1

Logitech also makes a great nearly full-sized keyboard. It’s the Logitech Easy-Swtich Bluetooth Keyboard, model K811 for $100. It connects to 3 devices. It has a selector switch for Android, iOS and Windows. However, it also connects to an Apple computer and comes with an Apple keyboard configuration with the COMMAND and OPTION keys and shortcuts for iPad.

mk_umk_otherviews02

A third keyboard option also fits the “full-sized” mold. The Microsoft Universal Mobile Bluetooth keyboard is my favorite of the bunch because it’s small and less expensive than the three of the above options at only $79.95. It comes with its only carrying box and unfolds when we’re ready to type on it. It also connects to multiple devices at once.

Since I hate the tiny fold up keyboards and the roll up keyboards, I don’t have a recommendation. You can find these usually for $20-$50 at Amazon or your local office/electronics store.

My friend Antoine Wright of Mobile Ministry Magazine and a co-host of Theotek Podcast would scream at these suggestions. He’d wonder why not forget the keyboard and just use a stylus. Draw and write notes. And I agree with him.

ap-898_2_1

A few great options let you do fine-tipped drawing and handwriting. The larger tipped stylus that most people use are terrible. I hate them and never use one. But these feel more like writing with a real pen.

Apps that Help Preachers Study and Write Sermons

Get a good Bible study app. That’s obvious, but remember that not all Bible apps do the same task. I always prefer full Bible study apps over the simple Bible readers. The best Bible apps on the iPad don’t necessarily do the best job of supporting advanced Bible study.

logos ipad app
Logos iPad app

Logos Bible from Faithlife goes toe-to-toe with Olive Tree’s Bible Study as two of the most popular Bible study apps for advanced research. A few other great contenders include…

Olive Tree Bible app
Olive Tree Bible app

Each of these coms with strengths and weaknesses. The best option usually depends on what the preacher uses on the computer. Logos users should use the Logos apps. Olive Tree users should get their app. You get the idea. However, try downloading all of these. Each offers a free version and you may get some good content. That’s especially true if your desktop application doesn’t offer a good iPad app, like Bibleworks or PC Study Bible.

In addition to Bible study apps, look for a good word processing app and maybe a presentation app. Do you use Microsoft Office on a computer? Then give their iPad apps a try. To get the full experience the user will need an Office 365 subscription. Office 365 costs between $60 and $100 per year or less if you shop around.

Apple makes Pages and Google offers Google Docs. Each comes with strengths and weaknesses, so try them out and see what you like.

Some people prefer one of the many note taking or mind mapping apps for taking notes on an iPad while studying their Bible app. Also, do forget that some of the above Bible apps have great notes features that you can write in instead of using a separate app.

Take notes in your Bible app and maybe even write the full sermon or Bible study there.
Take notes in your Bible app and maybe even write the full sermon or Bible study there.

Here’s a list of great note taking apps.

  • Evernote – ubiquitous note taking and syncing app.
  • Apple’s update Notes app offers more features in iOS 9
  • iA Writer – be sure to get the cheaper of the two. The $20 version doesn’t add enough to make it worth twice the price. It handles mark down, something my friend Wes Allen, a fellow Theotek co-host, will love.
Evernote makes note taking and syncing cross platform easy.
Evernote makes note taking and syncing cross-platform easy.

Don’t forget hand writing or digital inking as a writing tool. There’s a bunch of great apps that let the user write. Here’s a list of my favorites.

Apple Notes now does handwriting and inserting images in iOS 9 coming soon.
Apple Notes now does handwriting and inserting images in iOS 9 coming soon.

Some people prefer using a mind-mapping tool. I don’t use one, so I’m not a great source for the best options. My friend Rick Mansfield (from Accordance and my co-host on Theotek Podcast) told me about a post about mind-mapping for sermon prep.

See the Abram KJ blog for more info on Mind Mapping for Sermon Prep
See the Abram KJ blog for more info on Mind Mapping for Sermon Prep

See more about mind mapping in the tips below.

Tips for Using an iPad while Preaching or Teaching the Message

Once you have a good keyboard and/or stylus, your preferred Bible study app, a good word processing too, handwriting app, or mind-mapping tool, here are some tips for effectively doing Bible study and writing on the iPad.

Double tap the home button to bring up the app choosing feature.
Double tap the home button to bring up the app choosing feature.
  1. Learn to multitask. Apple gives iPad users two ways to switch between apps. Use double tap or the swiping gestures to go back and forth between apps. In iOS 9 on iPad Air and iPad Air 2 users can dock a second app by swiping in from the right side of the screen.
  2. Write in the Bible app’s notes feature if you want side-by-side user environment. I mentioned this above. This might not be the best way to write your preaching notes so when finished copy and paste the notes to a word processor for formatting.
  3. Copy and Paste Bible text or quotes from the app to the word processor. To preach or teach from an iPad get in the habit of copying the text of the Bible into the word processor so there’s no need to deal with turning pages in a physical Bible.
  4. Use Mind Mapping apps for a different approach to sermon or Bible study notes. Mind Mapping refers to using visual organization of ideas. Get an awesome stylus to draw a circle on the screen of your inking app. Then write your Big Idea in the center. If you don’t know what a “Big Idea” is, then stop what you’re doing and read Biblical Preaching by Haddon Robinson. If you still don’t understand, then get The Big Idea of Biblical Preaching by Keith Wilhite and Scott Gibson. If you still don’t understand then go back to your seminary or Bible college and ask for your tuition money back.
  5. Sources for Illustrations. There’s a wealth of great content online for teaching and preaching, from online Bible study sites to news sites that offer useful illustrations. Use Wayne McDill’s tool for finding illustrations from 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching. Avoid the canned sermon illustrations books and sites that become out of date soon after they’re published. Also, look at PreachingToday.com for som great up-to-date illustration material.
  6. Remember visuals. People learn better when we combine at least senses in the teaching or preaching experience. So look for ways to include the sense of sight, smell, touch and even taste while teaching or preaching. Take note of them when you think about your sermon’s Big Idea and concepts. In ascending order of effectiveness from the least effective to the most effective senses for memory are hearing, seeing, touching, tasting and smelling. If someone hears you preach and sees an image, they will remember what you say longer. Add one of the other three and they may never forget it.
  7. Use a presentation tool. The iPad offers a great collection of presentation tools from Keynote and PowerPoint to Prezi or Haiku Deck. Go here to see a great list of alternatives to Keynote and PowerPoint.

How to Preach from an iPad or Tablet

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

office365
Don’t pay full price for an Office 365 subscription. If you bought a new Windows PC recently, it may come with one year free. Or go to eBay and fine one cheap.
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.

On a Mac the Menubar icon includes the program's menu. Click it to set preferences.
On a Mac the Menubar icon includes the program’s menu. Click it to set preferences.

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 an example of my sermon notes used to teach from. Notice the red type for Bible passages, green type for headings and use of bullet points.
Here’s an example of my sermon notes used to teach from. Notice the red type for Bible passages, green type for headings and use of bullet points.
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

If you don’t know how to do any of the above, see Microsoft’s great tutorial on creating templates or on using styles.

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.

Save all your notes documents to OneDrive. This makes them easy to open on the tablet.
Save all your notes documents to OneDrive. This makes them easy to open on the tablet.
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.

Put a check mark in Open at login to keep OneDrive running all the time.
Put a check mark in Open at login to keep OneDrive running all the time.

Opening on the iPad or Tablet

Find your document in the Recent documents section of the Open dialog box in Word for iPad.
Find your document in the Recent documents section of the Open dialog box in Word for iPad.
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.

On a Windows tablet, like the Surface Pro 3, just open the file inside the full version of Windows.
On a Windows tablet, like the Surface Pro 3, just open the file inside the full version of Windows.
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

Pur the tablet in landscape mode and tap the View Ribbon tab and tap Page Width.
Pur the tablet in landscape mode and tap the View Ribbon tab and tap Page Width.
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.
Antoine Wright does "sketch notes" for his messages. Here's an example of some notes he took while I was preaching.
Antoine Wright does “sketch notes” for his messages. Here’s an example of some notes he took while I was preaching.

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.

Microsoft-Surface-3-with-iPad-Air

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.

cbs late show with david letterman

David Letterman and Traditional Preaching: End of Era

cbs late show with david lettermanDavid 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.

pew research center numbers

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.