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ATPM 16.11
November 2010



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Segments: Slices from the Macintosh Life

by Kevin Rossen,

Holy iPad: The iPad in the Hands of a Pastor

I Was Wrong

When Apple officially announced the iPad, my initial reaction was, “Wow, that will be the biggest miss they’ve made since the Newton.” I was picturing an epic-failure by Steve Jobs and Friends on the same level of Palm’s Foleo. Who would really want an iPad? It’s just a bigger iPhone, but without the phone. What a stupid idea!

But within a few weeks of the announcement, things slowly started to change. First, my younger brother was really excited about it. He thought it was perfect for him, so he pre-ordered one. Then, I started reading about the developers of some of my favorite Mac apps (Evernote, Logos Bible Software, etc.) developing iPad optimized versions of their apps and how excited they were about them. Finally, I realized that the games and educational apps made for my two-year-old on the iPhone would be really, really great on the iPad.

So, I changed my mind and took the plunge about a week after it was first released.

A Perfect Fit for Ministry

Being in ministry, I spend a lot of time out of the office. Most of the meetings that I set up with people take place at coffee shops and restaurants. An iPhone is too small to really take notes effectively, and a MacBook takes up most of the table and creates a physical barrier between myself and the person I’m talking to.

What I’ve found to be really nice about the iPad is that it’s just the right size for these types of meetings. I can set it on the table to take notes, brainstorm, and pull up Web sites without worrying about the other person wondering if I’m on Facebook or checking e-mail. This alone has been one of my favorite things about owning an iPad.

Another place the iPad has come in handy is in our weekly staff meetings. I really don’t like to take notes on paper. My handwriting is horrible, and I tend to be more organized digitally than with paper. With my MacBook, it’s really easy to hide behind the wall that the screen creates. It might look like I’m taking notes, but I could be doing a number of other things. More often than not, my MacBook distracted me and kept me disengaged from the meeting than helped me be productive.

The iPad, however, has seemed like a natural fit. Having the screen viewable by others keeps me accountable. I never fire up the Twitter app to see what’s happening. I stay in Evernote and take notes specifically related to the meeting. The few times that I’ve left my iPad at home have left me feeling like something was missing from these meetings.

Preaching and Bible Study…Almost There

When it comes to preaching and teaching, I’m really a nerd. When I got my Kindle, I preached from it and conducted a wedding, too. It worked fine, but it was a little bit of a clunky experience. Turning the pages was a little slow. If I needed to edit something, I was out of luck.

The iPad has been almost completely a perfect fit for preaching. The first Sunday morning after purchasing the iPad, when I was getting ready to preach, I was debating what to do. I wanted to preach from the iPad, but I was afraid that it would be more of a distraction to others than a help for me. So, I went analog. I printed out my notes and took them up with me, and I regretted it. The music stand I used was the same one that our worship leader was using, and his sheet music was still on it. At one point I grabbed his music instead of my notes when I was trying to flip through pages.

For the second service that morning, I used the iPad, and it went seamlessly. GoodReader filled the hole of reading PDF files that day, but now I just copy my notes over into iBooks. It’s ridiculously easy to use, and I don’t have to worry about fumbling through pages. I also never worry about battery life. I think the most I’ve used in any one sermon has been about 7% of the battery life. Greatness.

For studying the Bible, I use Logos Bible Software and YouVersion. This works for a lot of surface stuff. I can read the Bible text, commentaries, and do some basic searches. I can also look up meaning of original Greek and Hebrew words, but not take it too far. I like to use this approach early in my study phase.

But the biggest hole I have right now is that I can’t copy and paste or print from Logos. This really handcuffs how deep I can go. I would love to be able to do most of my research on the iPad, then do my final editing on the MacBook, but right now that’s just not realistic.

Final Thoughts

After using the iPad for about five months, I’m really happy with it. It’s been a natural fit for me in ministry. It’s not perfect, but it really has helped me be more productive and effective in some areas. It’s been such a good experience, in fact, that I think when I go to replace my MacBook in three years or so, I’ll probably end up getting an iMac or something similar. The iPad has been a truly great portable device that less than a year ago I never thought I’d ever want or need.

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Reader Comments (2)

Rich Shields · November 2, 2010 - 23:30 EST #1
Thanks for your comments. I am a pastor and teach pastors, as well as a long term Mac user (1990). Currently I use MBP 15" because I travel so much and it is my entire office. But I have also watched the iPad development, and am leaning toward getting one. (BTW, Accordance might give you more for your language study, and I don't think the copying/pasting is a problem.)
Kevin Rossen · November 3, 2010 - 13:52 EST #2
Hi Rich,

Thanks for the comment. I've been very happy with the iPad and it's been great in ministry. I've heard that about Accordance before. I'm not sure I'm ready to plunk down extra cash for another Bible Study Software. I've invested quite a bit over the years in Logos. I will take a look at it, though, in the App Store.


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