The Pastor App

Last fall Ken McKibben of Mediamerge gave me the idea of using the iPad as a way to integrate my tasks of study, blogging, annotation, teaching, and preaching. The initial quest was to find a way I could take control of presentations from the pulpit and be more spontaneous while teaching as if I were teaching in a small classroom with a whiteboard. Ken offered me the iPad as a solution and since then I have found it to be the most versatile and indispensible tool of my ministry. Here is a list of apps that make iPad a must have for pastors:

1. Kindle and Logos – the books are cheaper than print copies, and no matter how many you buy the iPad never gets heavy! If you are like me, you always have a stack of books in your hand. When I leave the office I look like a camel. I usually have a gym bag, a computer bag, and a book bag. With the iPad I have alleviated any need for carrying my laptop and I have reduced my book bag down from 40 pounds to about 3. Now my book bag consists of an iPad keyboard, the iPad, my journaling Bible, and a magazine or two that I am working through. I have a feeling that in a matter of months most all magazines will also be iPad apps thus drastically reducing my mag stack. Mrs. Branam will be overjoyed!

2. Whiteboard HD and Airsketch – these are two “whitboarding” apps that allow you to post maps, charts, graphics, or a clean canvas for teaching. Each of them offers a selection of colored marker tools which when used along with the iPad stylus allows you to mark up the screen as you like. Warning: writing on the iPad is difficult. My penmanship is just below doctor’s prescription to begin with, on iPad it descends to hieroglyphics. What makes writing on iPad difficult is that you can’t rest your palm on the screen as you do when you write with a pen and paper. Whiteboard HD updated their app so that you can draw on two separate screen touches. For me, this update made Whitebaord HD even more difficult for my applications, but I still use it.

The iPad does not naturally translate to a secondary monitor, only certain apps offer visual output – be careful when buying them that you get one that does. I do not understand why the iPad has a monitor out but does not translate the desktop to monitor like a laptop. If the folks at Apple ever allowed iPad to visualize the desktop on a monitor, the pastor/teacher applications for iPad would grow exponentially.

Whiteboard HD is a good app, but you must have the iPad plugged into a VGA cable to use it. The connection can be “iffy.” If you own anything Mac you know the connections to plugs can be precarious. I know this is so that you won’t catch a cord with your leg and thus turn your small fortune of an investment into a pile of electronic floor junk, but for me, these connections are a little too safe. Airsketch un-tethers your iPad as it uses a wifi connection to transmit the image from iPad to another monitored system on the same network. Airsketch offers the user great versatility as you can move around the room freely and transmit your images to your auditorium monitors.

3. Notes and Notify – I am a legal pad junkie. Notes and Notify have helped me to drastically reduce my legal pad trash piles. Notify is more versatile as it allows you to build separate notebooks, annotate web pages, type notes, or insert graphics. Notify also offers several ways to export your data for printing. Notes is a simple legal pad on iPad. If you need to type in a quick thought, Notes is the way to go.

4. Keynote and Keynote Remote – If you have a scripted presentation created in PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote, the iPad allows you to control your presentation from the pulpit. With Keynote you can not only build attractive presentations, but you can also import PowerPoint presentations without any virtual jumbling that will mess them up. Keynote Remote allows you to control another computer on the same network that also has Keynote. Like Airsketch, Keynote remote allows you to un-tether your iPad from a VGA cable and move about the room.

5. Pages – Pages is Apple’s answer to Word. I write a lot. With Apple’s Bluetooth keyboard (which weighs virtually nothing, is very reasonably priced, and is the same size as a laptop board) I have alleviated any need to carry a laptop. There are some features of iPad’s Pages that is missing from the laptop version, ie. footnoting, but hopefully future editions will add this feature. Even still, Pages is a must – and yes, it easily imports and exports documents for printing or to and from Word.

6. The Unknown App – like the unknown god at Mars Hill, with Apple’s App store, there is always room for one more. Weekly I find new apps that are useful to ministry or are just plain cool. Some of my favorite non-ministry apps include Pinball HD, SimCity DLX, TweetDeck, Star Walk, Google Earth, Netflix, The Weather Channel, Appstream, Nightstand (a must if you travel), and Bowmaster HD. With such an open community of development the iPad morphs and literally “becomes” something else week to week.

If you are a pastor or a teacher, I highly recommend the iPad. Thanks Ken!


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