Preaching With The iPad

A while back, I mentioned that I was going to write about using the iPad in preaching. After that post, I received several inquiries from preachers who were curious about how I used the iPad in the place of paper for my sermon notes.

I have been using the iPad in place of paper note for about a year and a half. I would not go back to paper notes unless I was forced to. I love using the iPad! When you first take it to the pulpit you do feel a bit strange having that piece of shiny technology lying there on the pulpit, but you actually forget about it and just use it like you would a paper outline. It has been my experience that most of the people in the congregation have no idea that you are using an iPad. They may see a strange glow on your face, or a little reflection in your glasses, but if you preach the Word of God, they really don’t care that you are using the iPad for your notes.

I still carry my Bible with me, and I do not intend to stop using it, because I would find it awkward to change back and forth between my notes and a Bible app while I was preaching. If you do decide to go the iPad route, here are a few suggestions I would take to heart.

1. Turn off the sound
2. Lock the screen orientation
3. Turn off the wifi, or at least disable push notification so things don’t pop up while you preach.
4. Be sure you have a good charge on the device before you leave for church.
5. Turn down the brightness on the screen.

Here are the apps and the process I utilize as part of my sermon preparation workflow.

I prepare all my sermons in a program called Scrivener. I use the Mac version, but a Windows version is also available.  The reason I use this program is that it allows me to keep all my writing, my research and my finished sermon in one place. Also, if I am preaching a series, I can prepare the entire series in one location, thus keeping all my material in one file. It’s pretty handy, if I do say so myself.

After the sermon is prepared in Scrivener, I export it to a .rtf file for final editing. In my case, I use Pages, but Word or any other word processor will work fine. In Pages I use a 12 point font for editing on the screen, and I save the file using this font size. When the sermon is finished, I will change the font size to 20 point and export it (or save it if using Word) as a .pdf. Both Pages and Word have this feature built in. The reason I change the font to 20 point is because of the size of the iPad screen. 20 point on the iPad is about the equivalent of 13 point in print, so it works for my older eyes. I prepare all my sermons in portrait orientation with .5″ margins. I also put the entire text of most Bible quotations into the sermon note.

Now that I have the sermon .pdf ready, it is time to upload it to the Internet so that I can access it on the iPad. I use a free service called Dropbox to store the files and to access them from the iPad. On the iPad, I use an app called Goodreader, there are several others available, but this one has all the features I am looking for. I open Goodreader, link it to by Dropbox account, and open the .pdf sermon file. It downloads to the iPad, where it can be accessed and edited as if it was a set of paper notes. I can write on it, highlight it, cross out word, sentences and paragraphs, etc. Changing pages is as simple as roughing the right side of the screen. Here are a couple of files, entitled Groaning Here, Glory There, The Ministry Of Intercessory Prayer, and When Shepherds Meet, that were edited on the iPad. This will give you some idea of the capabilities of Goodreader. Be sure to right click the .pdfs and download them prior to viewing them, if you want to see them in all their glory. For some reason, some browsers will not display all the formatting.

When I download the files onto the iPad, I place them in folders named for the book of the Bible from which the sermon came. Thus, all my sermons are arranged by books of the Bible. I have also arranged the books by Old and New Testament. I also have folders for Sunday School lesson, lectures I use in the Bible Institute, etc.

It sounds like this is a long and difficult process. However, it is really quite easy and fast. Once the preliminary apps are installed and the folders created, getting the files on the iPad is as easy as saving the in Dropbox and opening them in Goodreader. It literally takes just a few seconds. The hardest part of the whole is doing the difficult work of exegesis, exposition and sermon preparation, and that is as it should be.

Once the sermons have been prepared and uploaded to Dropbox, it is possible to carry all your sermons in your hand. I have every some I have preached since 1990 in my Dropbox folder. They have not all been converted to .pdf, but they can be accessed, opened and edited by a good number of iPad apps. So, when I go preach a meeting, I have instant access to thousands of my sermons. Of course, you must have an wifi connection to access the material in Dropbox, but everything that has already been downloaded into Goodreader, or whatever app you might use, will be there until you delete it.

So, there you go. I hope that little introduction proves helpful to you. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to comment on this post and I will be glad the answer right here. That way, the questions, answers and other comments will be available to everyone who comes here looking for this information. If you can give me some guidance on using he iPad in an more efficient manner, I would love to hear about how you do it.

Some may also be curious about the new Kindle Fire. After all, it is a lot less expensive than the iPad. I have been playing around with one for the past two weeks, and I really like it. It will serve me well as a reading device, but due to the small size of its screen, I do not think I will preaching from it. I may tinker around with a few files and see what comes of it. If anything does, I will let you know.

Later on, I will tell you about some other apps I use, if anyone is interested.



11 comments on “Preaching With The iPad

  1. oikosfriends says:

    Thanks for posting this. I find it very informative. For some time I have been thinking of using the Ipad for preaching. Do you also use the ipad for powerpoint etc? We presently use Pro Presenter for our projection.


    • Alan says:


      Thank you for your comment. I teach in a small Bible institute in our area and use the iPad exclusively for all my notes and PowerPoint presentations. I do not use PowerPoint when I preach, although the iPad would certainly handle that I think. However, I think the iPad would have its limitations, in that it would be difficult to use it for PowerPoint and sermon notes at the same time, if you know what I mean. Hope that helps!

  2. dongkim11 says:

    In the beginning, were you nervous about tech mishaps? Like ipad freezing, or other incidents where u wont have access to the file?
    I want to make the switch, but thats the biggest stumbling block. Perhaps i rely too much on my notes instead of the Spirit.

  3. Alan says:


    Thank you for your comments. Yes, at first I was a little apprehensive about the things you have mentioned. The iPad could fail at any time, but it hasn’t. Usually, I am familiar enough with the sermon and text I am preaching that I could do it without note. I like to have them there as a crutch. Anyway, I have been using the iPad to preach from for nearly two years without having the first problem. Your milage may vary. In my opinion, it is one of the best single changes I have made in the way I approach preaching in years. Give it a try sometime, and when you do, take your paper note with you as a backup until you feel comfortable with the device. God bless!

  4. Dale Bird says:

    Thanks, I have been using my android tablet for several months. I just sold it and am purchasing my first Ipad, the new screen promises to kind to my middle aged eyes. I would be very grateful for a full list of apps that pastors find usefull. I wish quickverse had one since I have a large library on my PC.

    • Alan says:

      Brother Dale:

      As soon as I can, I will post something about a few of the apps I use daily. Thanks for stopping by our little corner of the web. God bless!

  5. Thanks to this post, I’m now using Scrivener and have found it a powerful study tool. It has saved hours compared to the old method of bouncing between Pages, Writer, and the study sources. Thanks for the help.

    • Alan says:

      Brother David:

      Thanks for your comments. I really like Scrivener because it allows me to keep all my documents and research in one place. It makes writing a little more painless. God bless!

  6. Manfred says:

    Two of the elders in my church use iPads for their notes, one of them uses it for his Bible reading as well. I think elders need to make a visible statement about being under the authority of the Word of God when preaching and having a physical Bible is a good way to remind them of that. Taking time to turn pages to references reminds people that the words are that which was written by inspiration of God – not the same as the preacher’s notes.

  7. Alan says:


    I agree. There is no substitute for having a Bible in your hand when you preach. When I have them turn to a passage, I turn there too. I think it helps magnify the centrality of the Word in preaching.

  8. Joel Jupp says:

    I’m considering Scrivener, but in trying out the demo, the outlining seems a bit crazy. I don’t mean the “outliner” feature, but just creating a custom outline format… I use a strange one, I guess, of I, A, a), 1). Because I’ve used that since high school, it’s easy for me to scan a document and know where I am.

    Can you create a standard format like that? I was having a killer of a time trying to modify the numbered list. Yikes. I assume it must be easy, but the program is so powerful, I have gotten lost in the maze. 🙂

    Would you be able to help?

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