About a year ago, or maybe a little more, Paul Martin (the Senior Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church) went away for a couple of weeks and left me to preach. Because I prepare my sermons digitally, I was finding it increasingly silly to convert them into the older medium of paper. They say that “while the cat’s away the mice will play,” so I took this as an opportunity to begin preaching from an iPad instead of a paper manuscript. I have been preaching from that iPad ever since.
There are many ways to go about it, but I will tell you about the system I have been using for the past year or so. I have found that it works very well. You need only two programs to do this: Pages and GoodReader (or Word and GoodReader if you use a PC). While I continue to use a full-size iPad, this system will work just as well with the Mini.
1. Prepare Yourself
Preaching from an iPad can be a little bit intimidating at first, largely because we have a good deal of confidence in paper and a lot less confidence in electronics. It always amuses me that if something goes wrong with your paper manuscript (e.g. You drop it, or the pages get out of order) you blame yourself, but if something goes wrong with the iPad, you blame the iPad. The fact is, both are simply media and both have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. If you are going to preach from an iPad, you have got to do it boldly, not dreading it and not convinced that something will go wrong. Make sure you understand the process and be sure you practice it a few times. At the beginning you may want to take a paper backup with you as a means of increasing your confidence.
2. Get a Case
While the iPad is an excellent tool for preaching, it can also serve as a distraction if people think, “He’s preaching from an iPad!” This concern is fast fading as iPads become ubiquitous, but for the time being, I find there is value in using a case that looks like a notepad. This is not to hide the fact that you are preaching from your iPad as much as it is to keep the fact from becoming a distraction. The cases from Pad & Quill are excellent, though there are also less-expensive alternatives.
3. Prepare Your Manuscript
I have found the best tools to use are Pages and GoodReader. Pages is excellent for preparing your notes or your manuscript. Using iCloud, you can prepare it on your computer and have it automatically sync to the iPad. When you are finished, bump the font size to 16 or 18. It will look obnoxiously large, but make it far more readable at a glance. The new version of Pages allows you to very easily add page numbers which can be helpful with your pacing. Once your sermon is ready to go in pages, you’ll need to get your file to GoodReader. To do this, tap the icon at the top right (the square with the arrow pointing up) and then “Open in Another App,” “PDF,” “Choose App” and “Open in GoodReader.” A couple of seconds later you will be ready to go.
The reason you want to preach from GoodReader rather than Pages is that it allows you to swipe or tap from one page to the next; you do not want to scroll from page to page as it is too easy to lose your place.
If you use a PC, find a program (such as Word) that will allow you to save a PDF file, and either email that to yourself or use Dropbox to transfer it to your iPad. Then open it in GoodReader.