Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
March 14th, 2014 by Joel Watts

Thoughts on Preaching From an iPad

3 day revivalBack when I preached in the fundamentalist church, we didn’t have iPads. Sure, it wasn’t that long ago, but in tech years, it was decades.

A few years ago, when I preached at my local UMC church, I did use the iPad.

Tonight and this weekend, I am once again preaching.

I was tempted to bring my iPad. After all, it allows for last minute changes to the sermon, looks really cool holding it, and is there incase I need back up via Logos.

But, it also contains my games and other… things.

So, instead of preaching from the iPad, I’m going to have my notes, my rosary hidden in my pocket, and my REB. This is not to say anyone who uses the iPad to preach, or some other tablet, is committing some blasphemous error, even though you clearly are, but I think in the end, if we are to preach, and the more so about the sufficiency of Scripture, then having the table there, complete with distractions, games, and other non-Scriptural things, present may send a mixed message.

But, I am not a regular preacher. Nor do I want to be.

So, what are your thoughts?

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


5 Responses to “Thoughts on Preaching From an iPad”
  1. It’s a tool.

    One could doodle on a piece of paper, write other things, draw inappropriate pictures, or otherwise distract him/herself just about as easily.

    That being said, people should use what they like and what serves their congregations. If the use of an iPad leaves people distracted and asking, “Is he playing Plants vs. Zombies up there?” then don’t do it. But if that’s not a problem, then I see no issue. Unless, of course, you’re actually doing some such thing.

  2. Joel, I usually preach from a platform… 😉
    I’ve written about using gadgets in the pulpit. No matter how modern your congregation is I believe it is attention grabbing, in the sense that it grabs attention from the theme of your sermon, from whatever deity is being preached into the “how cool my preacher is, type of attention. Perhaps not for preachers who stand still behind the pulpit since the congregation will not see the gadget from the pew (and their attention spam ends after a couple of minutes anyway), but for my style of preaching it would be attention grabbing. In this I am still a “fundamentalist”: the sound of the flipping of the pages of the Bible by the congregation is the sound of “praise” to the Almighty and a massage to the preacher’s ego! 😉 Can I have an Amen? (echo: NO O O O)

  3. Know More Than I Should says

    Confucius say also bring along small battery powered printer and have best of both worlds – iPad convenience, traditional appearance; everybody happy.

    Actually, though, tablet – howbeit of plastic instead of stone – will replace hardcopy in the pulpit just as they have done in the classroom. All that is required will be a generational shift in both pews and pulpits.

  4. Mark Allison says

    My good friend Rick Mansfield shares similar sentiments in his blog. Thought you might appreciate it:


  5. I prefer to preach from paper notes and that’s what I usually do in the pulpit of the church that I serve. But in some venues it is simply easier, for the reasons you cited above and others, to preach directly from my iPad. But having said, this, I don’t play games so I use it mostly for reading, Facebook, news, and similar things. If i used it for those things I might feel differently.

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