Preaching from an iPad

January 20, 2011 — 3 Comments

I’ve been experimenting the past few weeks preaching from my wife’s iPad.  I wasn’t sure how I would like it, but so far it has been great. I typically have at least 5 or 6 pages of notes that I’m flipping through while I preach.  I’ve lost pages and gotten my notes out of order before, so I was interested in seeing if this could help me stay organized.  The greatest part is that most people in the church don’t even realize I have an iPad on stage. I don’t want to draw attention to myself, so using an iPad has actually helped. It’s very discrete. Can you tell I’m trying to justify why I’m using it :-)

Over the past few years, I’ve tried several methods of preparing notes. My notes are a mix between an outline and manuscript.  I try to list quotes and illustrations, but I also leave a lot of content out of my notes. I’ve tried fitting my notes in my Bible, but that just seemed too cumbersome, so I typically just print them out and have the loose sheets of paper laying on the table.  I had to experiment a little to find the best method to get my notes on the iPad, so I thought I would share the process.

I’ve shared before about my preparation in preaching and how I use mindmaps as my initial outline. I typically export my mindmap from Xmind to Apple Pages as plain text, so I just started from there.

My Process

  • Format the sermon in Pages using the built-in paragraph styles. I typically add bold sections, highlighted text, and color coding to help me recognize the different parts of my message.  I used the guidelines from Apple’s support site t0 help me understand how to format correctly for the iPad.
  • In Pages, I then export as an ePub file that can be read by the iBooks app on the iPad. Even though there is a pages app on the iPad, you need to use something else to read your notes. If you use pages on the iPad, every time you hit the screen, the on-screen keyboard pops up and covers half the screen. By using iBooks, I can easily change the text size and font. And all the formatting stays the same. If you use the built-in heading styles in Pages, you can also quickly jump to different points in the sermon.
  • To transfer the file to Jennifer’s iPad, I use Dropbox. It’s a great way to sync files wirelessly to your mobile devices. In Dropbox, I locate the file and then tell it to open in iBooks. And that’s how it works.

A couple of cautions.  You need to find the right text size for your eyesight. I’m young enough to still be able to read small text, so I keep it pretty small. I’ve also heard about iPads causing interference with wireless microphones, so you’ll want to check everything out and test it before going live. You’ll also want to turn off bluetooth, wireless, and the screen-lock while you’re preaching. You don’t need facebook requests and emails popping up on your screen, and you definitely don’t want to screen to go black right in the middle of reading a passage.

And finally if you want to go all out, then check out the podiums from littlemountain.tv and Churchium.

For years, I have been frustrated that the iPhone was only available on AT&T. While AT&T claims to have great service and great coverage, they neglect to cover much of rural America. With zero bars, they simply were not an option for our area. I have waited every year for the Verizon iPhone announcement to be made, but now that they finally unveiled it today, I am not excited.  I think it will be great for Verizon and bad news for AT&T, but I have no plans to switch. It’s too little, too late for me because I’m perfectly happy with my HTC Desire Android phone. Since I’ve had my phone, my iPod touch gets used less and less, because I prefer using my phone for everything.

For me, an android phone just makes sense. I use almost all of Google’s services like GMail, Google Calendar, Google Voice, Google Reader, Google Docs, and Google Maps, and all of these are integrated much more tightly into the android operating system. You can truly customize android phones. I love having the ability to customize home screens with widgets and custom apps. For power users, there are even more features that you can unlock when you root your phone. I’m using the cyanogenmod rom, and I feel like my phone  will do anything that an iPhone will do and more.  The iPhone’s advantage is simplicity. It’s much harder to mess it up, and Apple’s control of the App store keeps everything under their control.

I think competition is great and the race between the iPhone and Android is now officially on. I can foresee today’s announcement really hurting the next generation of Windows Mobile phones and Blackberry. Microsoft waited too long to release a quality operating system for phones and Blackberry has not kept up with the increasing media and web fascination of the average user. Verizon has a strong android lineup, so it will be interesting to see how they sell compared to each other.

My final verdict

  • iPhone = great for the average user
  • android = great for the power user

Will you be switching? What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment and let me know.

If you are a Vimeo Plus user, 2011 starts off with great news. Vimeo now allows uploads up to 5 gigabytes in size. This is great news for churches who would like to upload their service in HD.  The previous limit was 1 GB, unless you used the Desktop Uploader which allowed you to upload 2 GB files.

Vimeo is a video site, similar to youtube, but much more customizable. They offer their basic service for free, and a plus version for $59.95 per year. I highly recommend using Vimeo for church sermons. The videos look great and with this increase in file size, you can now upload entire sermons in HD. At Cornerstone, we use Vimeo Plus with Media Fusion for all our sermon video and audio.

Check out the Vimeo Blog for all the details on the update.

Now, we’re proud to say that we’ve made a big breakthrough, and 5 GB uploads per file are here! This update is great for many reasons: it means filmmakers can upload full-feature films in HD, parents can upload an entire soccer game, and your Aunt Martha can upload 2.5 hours of HD video of her cat taking a nap! Also, people who don’t want to waste time compressing videos before uploading them can finally skip that step if they wish and upload videos directly from the camera. This should increase video quality on the site even further and give Plus members the flexibility they need.

I just finished a big experiment. Over the past year, I have been reading through the Bible using YouVersion on my iPod touch and my phone. Last night, I finished the One Year M’Cheyne reading plan.  It was a little strange at first reading the Bible on a tiny screen, but it didn’t take long to adjust. I found myself reading the Bible at all different times of the day. Whenever I had a few minutes to spare, I could easily start the app and start reading. Whether I was waiting in the car, sitting at the Doctor’s office, or just hanging out at the house, my Bible was always in my pocket. I had the added benefit of being able to bookmark verses and add notes as I went.

The M’Cheyne reading plan gives you four passages each day. Each day has two passages from the Old Testament, one from the New Testament, and one from either the Psalms or the Gospels. In one year, you read the Old Testament once and the New Testament and Psalms twice. I liked the plan, but at times it seemed a little strange reading four different stories at once. Next time I plan on using one of the chronological plans.  As a church, we’re going to be using the NewThru30 plan starting January 1st to read through the New Testament in 30 days. I’m excited to see more people engage Scripture, and YouVersion is a great app to let you do just that.

Apparently, I’m not the only one reading the Bible on my phone, check out the following graphic from the YouVersion blog. As of November, the YouVersion app has been installed on 10 million devices. Next up, they want to see people spend 1 billion minutes reading Scripture in January of 2011. Are you up for the challenge?

Hosting a blog is not always cheap, especially if you host it yourself. I know many different pastors and church technology enthusiasts visit this site, so I wanted to share about the Beacon Ad Network. Selling ads on websites can be tricky. The point of this blog is not to make money, but it would be nice to cover some of my costs. Any extra income is appreciated in today’s economy.

Beacon Ads allows companies to find Christian blogs or websites that are a good match for their advertising. It’s simple, effective, and fast. If you are an advertiser, you can view all the relevant statistics of the potential sites, and you can track how well the ads are working. If you are the blogger, Beacon frees you up to blog and not worry about handling all the administrative details of managing your advertisements.  They take a percentage of the advertising income as their payment, so there is no up front cost to you.

Overall, it’s a win-win relationship. They help you get the word out about quality products, and they allow advertisers to find popular websites to advertise on. If you are interested in advertising here on FaithEngineer, I have opened up a few ad spots. Click below to find out the details.

Kindle vs. Nook Color

December 20, 2010 — 4 Comments

On Saturday I was able to finally check out the new Nook color ereader. I have a 2nd generation Kindle and I have played around with the newer 3rd generation as well. I have read around fifty books on my kindle, so it is definitely well used. Overall, the new Kindle and the new Nook Color are both great units. I’ve had several people ask me which one is better. So here’s my quick analysis of the features that matter most.

Battery Life

Kindle is the clear winner with a battery that can last up to a month if you turn off wireless. The Nook color has a battery life of around 8 hours with the wifi turned off. With the Nook, you would have to charge and charge often. I took my Kindle on a 10 day trip and didn’t even take the charger with me.

Display

This is a tough comparison because of the two different screen displays. For reading books, the Kindle wins out. It is easier on the eyes and you can read in direct sunlight. For magazines, newspapers, games, and the web, the Nook Color is better. And the Nook Color is a touchscreen, so it is easier to use. I don’t know how many times I find myself poking at the screen of my kindle expecting to navigate pages.

Price

The Kindle 3G is $139, and when you add in 3G the cost goes up to $189. The Nook Color is $249

Web Browsing

The 2nd generation Kindle has a web browser in the experimental menu, but it is just plain terrible. It is slow and the formatting on most pages in unreadable.  The 3rd generation Kindle made a huge jump and switched to a webkit browser, which works great. It is now usable for checking email and basic web activities. However, the Nook Color is based on the Android operating system and it just blows away the Kindle while browsing the web.

Future Potential

Here is where I think the advantage goes to the Nook Color. The Kindle is great for reading books, but that is it. Since the Nook is based on Android, it can expand far beyond a typical ereader. Barnes & Noble has announced that there will be apps available on the Nook in the future. Some people have already rooted the Nook and installed Android apps on it. Pandora is already installed on the Nook and as more apps are added, it becomes more of a tablet and less of an ereader.

Verdict

For reading books, I think the Kindle is still the clear winner. It is the cheaper unit and the longer battery life is the game changer. The Nook Color is much tougher to evaluate. I really like it and I am interested by it, but I can’t see myself ever buying one. It is a hybrid between an android phone and an iPad. The price is good, but I don’t really know where it fits in. When it comes right down to it, I would rather have an iPad. If they open up the operating system and allow you to install any android apps, then it might have a chance. Do you have either one? If so, what do you like or dislike? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Spiritual Markers

December 14, 2010 — Leave a comment

As I think through the past ten years, there are a few church services that really stand out in my mind. One was a youth service on April 1st of 2001. My wife and I were serving at a country church as part time youth leaders. We had just got back from taking over 50 teenagers to a Student Conference, and we turned over part of the morning worship service to our teens so they could share about what they learned. What happened next was a youth revival. Student after student stood before the church and shared what God was doing in their life. Instead of a few minutes, they took the entire service and more. And it was on that morning when I shared that God was leading me into ministry. I didn’t know what it would look like, and I didn’t know where I would end up, but I knew things were about to change. That morning sparked a journey that led students to enroll in seminary and even serve as missionaries and it has led me to become a pastor. I still have the VHS tape of that service, and it is one that I will never forget.

This past week at Cornerstone was another one of those services. Our mission team shared about their recent trip to Nicaragua. It seemed like everything was stacked against them sharing. We had to cancel the service the week before when they were supposed to share because of snow.  And we didn’t make a decision about this week’s service until early Sunday morning. We had to cancel our early service because of ice and cold, but we decided to have our 11am service. Everyone was glad we did. It was a powerful service where we heard not about what they did, but about what God did in their hearts. I am so proud of our team members for being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I just stayed out of the way and let God move. It’s awesome when that happens.

I think it’s important for us to look back to the Spiritual markers in our life. The moments and events that formed us and shaped us. The experiences that caused us to change our direction and focus on following Christ completely. The Israelites built alters to remember those events, and we should not forget the power that comes from realizing that our God has been faithful.

Here is the video from Sunday.

Mission Team Update from Cornerstone on Vimeo.

iPad Worship

December 7, 2010 — 2 Comments

We were snowed in this past Sunday and church was canceled, so I decided to tune and and catch some of the online church services. I listened to the early service at Newspring Live and then tuned in to watch the Northpoint Online service. They opened up with this Christmas medley done completely with iPods and iPads and iPhones. I’ve seen several bands pull this off on youtube, but this was a fun creative way to open a church service. These handbells are actually cool. I wonder how much practice it took to pull this off?

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