Our crew talked about our experiences in the last 9 months using the iPad Pro for our Bible study, preaching, and general work/play. Then we looked at Our Favorite Things. We planned to talk about Scrivener, a great writing tool that a few of our team members use. However, we went long talking about the iPad, so we’ll save that discussion for next week.
In the meantime, watch or listen below to our thoughts on using the iPad Pro.
What’s it great for?
How could Apple improve it?
How does it compare to Surface Pro 4?
How are we using ours?
What does Wes think just hours into owning one?
For Our Favorite Things this week, I talked quickly about SideClick, a little remote attachment for streaming set-top boxes, like Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku. Check it out at their website.
We discuss the new Google and Apple offerings after they announced their new hardware at their fall events. Apple released the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus as well as iPad Pro, a new iPad that competes with the Surface Pro 3 or now the Surface Pro 4.
Google announced their new goodies also, including a Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P smartphones. Learn more about them from our team in this week’s Theotek Podcast.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s a list of great note taking apps.
Evernote – ubiquitous note taking and syncing app.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Accordance Bible Software released a new version of their mobile app awhile back. It includes a bunch of great new features that make it vastly improved over the earlier versions, which I never really used much due to the sub par quality. However, these new features entice me to open Accordance Mobile more than ever before. Here’s the 5 ways that Accordance Mobile 2 is vastly improved over the earlier version.
Here’s Accordance’s own video highlighting the update.
Quickly Link and Unlink Parallel Panes in Accordance Mobile
It seems strange, but Accordance didn’t handle unlinking of window panes well until version 2. Now the app includes a button on the toolbar that quickly links or unlink the two open window panes.
Open two window panes as normal. Then tap on the link button to either link them or unlink them. When the user unlink the two, the second pane will not scroll along with the first. This makes it easier to deal with commentaries where a person wants to read an entry from a previous passage without moving the Bible text to the earlier verse.
Download All Option in Library Manager
When installing books in Accordance Mobile 2, there’s now a download all button that makes it easy to quickly install the entire Accordance Mobile library. Before we had to select each book and then download them.
Other mobile Bible apps need this feature. I’ve begged one app developer to add this feature since the iPad first came out.
Text Display Improvements
Accordance rewrote their text display engine for a more attractive and complex set of features. Now users can change the fonts and color of text. The font button opens a dialog box with the following customization:
Display brightness slider
Font larger/smaller buttons
Day and Night Theme selector
Link to full display settings in the app
Awesome New Notes Features in Accordance Mobile
Accordance really improved the notes features in Accordance Mobile. For example, users can now format their notes with things like font, font size, the color and format of the font (bold, italics, underlining). Users can also copy their notes and share them with others via iOS share sheets. Define words in notes and search for selected text in notes. Accordance Mobile 2 now lets users change the background color of their notes as well.
iPhone 6 Plus Capability
The iPhone 6 Plus lets people use apps in landscape mode thanks to the large 6.5-inch screen with high-resolution retina display. Accordance uses all that screen real estate to show more content in a side-by-side parallel pane view.
Notifications Section Today Screen Shortcut to Accordance Mobile
Thanks to the notifications section in iOS, Accordance Mobile can put a shortcut to the app in the Today section. Slide down from the top of the screen and tap on the Edit button at the bottom of the Today section. You’ll see a list of available Today section widgets. Tap the plus icon next to any one of them, including Accordance Mobile. This puts the widget in the list at the top of this screen. Rearrange the order of the notifications Today section widgets by dragging on the handle that looks like three horizontal lines to the right of the item.
In the above screenshot I’ve only got on link. However, all recently opened resources will show up. It could list many more than the one book like mine does above.
Expanded Action Menu
Now when a user selects text in a book or Bible text, a new expanded action menu appears above the selected text with new features.
The Search and Amplify features won’t show up on the action bar that appears above selected text when there’s a Bible with Strong’s tags opened, like the ESV, HCSB or KJV. In that case a box opens up (called the Instant Details) below the word with a definition from Strong’s and two hyperlinks with Search and Amplify there instead.
Better and More Highlight Options
In addition to the traditional color highlighting of text, Accordance Mobile 2 adds highlight symbols. Tap the symbols tab that shows up in the highlighting dialog box and choose a symbol. That symbol will show up below the text of the verse selected when the use added the highlight.
There’s also a Recents tab which shows the user’s recent highlight symbols or styles. Also, uses can add other highlight styles and choose them by tapping the Highlights title.
2 More Free Resources
Who doesn’t love free stuff. Accordance Mobile 2 will include 2 more free resources.
Accordance added the Dr. J’s Bible Study Methods tool, which teaches people who to study the Bible using Dr. J’s methods in Accordance. He’s the guy in the video above. Use this as a tutorial for Accordance like a quick start guide to studying the Bible with the program’s powerful features. They also added Bill Mounce’s Biblical Training course. There’s 17 of them available free.
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.