Tips for Preaching From an iPad

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I wanted an iPad was to preach from it. Preaching from my iPad is probably the main thing I use my iPad for on a weekly basis. It seems this trend is becoming more popular and you see more and more pastors preaching from an iPad or a tablet. With this new trend comes some opposition as well as much support. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter if you preach from an iPad or not. What you preach with or from is not a big deal, it’s the actual preaching itself that is important. But if you do decide to preach from an iPad, here are a few tips that I have learned along the way that may help you:

Don’t make a big deal about it. If you preach from an iPad, don’t make it a point to flash your iPad and make sure everyone in the audience knows you have an iPad. I recommend keeping it on the pulpit or podium so no one sees it while you are preaching. Your iPad is just a tool you are using to share God’s Word, keep your focus on the right thing.Try and keep it out of the audience view as much as possible. More than likely there will be people out there that will get distracted and maybe even jealous when they see you have an iPad.

Use a physical copy of the Bible. If you preach from an iPad, please DO NOT use a Bible app, such as YouVersion, instead of a physical copy of God’s Word. Call me old school, but I think it’s important to preach from an actual copy of the Bible. Use your iPad for your notes, not your Bible. Plus, switching from your notes to a Bible app will be extremely distracting to you and your audience.

Use a good app for your sermon notes. Make sure you have a reliable, easy to use app to have your sermon notes on when you preach. When I preach, I have my sermons on the Dropbox app on my iPad. For me, Dropbox works the best and is easy to get my sermon notes to. After I write my sermon manuscript as a Word doc, I simply drop that Word doc into my Dropbox on my Macbook and then open it up in the Dropbox app on my iPad right before I go up to preach. There are other apps you can use, but I recommend Dropbox.

Try not to look at your iPad too much. This doesn’t just apply to your iPad, but your notes in general. Be so familiar with your sermon content that you don’t need to look at them much as you preach. Stay engaged with your audience and don’t be glued to your notes on your iPad. I try to run through my sermon two times or more before I preach so I will be able to preach and not look down at my notes that much.

These are just a few tips I would share with anyone who is or is thinking about preaching from an iPad. Every good gift comes from God (James 1:17) so use your iPad as a good tool He has given us to expand His kingdom. Use it as a tool to help you preach His Word better and more effectively.

[Question] Do you use an iPad or a tablet when you preach?

Recovering from a Bad Sermon

If you have been in a ministry position where you preach or teach on a weekly basis, you know how it feels to preach a few terrible sermons. I had one of those experiences last night in our student ministry. Honestly, it was one of those sermons that I was just ready to be done with. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord spoke through His Word in spite of my terrible preaching and many students talked to me after the service about the topic. So what do we do after our preaching and teaching doesn’t go as well as planned? Here are a few things I have been reminding myself of since last night:

1. Trust in God’s sovereignty. At the end of the day, God doesn’t need us to preach or teach the world’s best sermon. Isaiah 55:11 says, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God’s Word is powerful and able to change the heart of those who you are preaching to. You don’t have to read the Bible very long to see that God uses things that look “terrible” to us to accomplish His will. God still spoke through your terrible sermon. However, this shouldn’t push us to not prepare well and not strive to communicate God’s Word the most creative way we can, but it should give us comfort when our preaching doesn’t come out the way we intended it to.

2. Don’t dwell on it. I have a tendency to dwell on a terrible sermon. I will usually ask my fiancée over and over what she thought about it, and sometimes I even catch myself trying to “explain” to her why it was so terrible. The best thing you can do after preaching a terrible sermon is simply move on and focus on preparing your next sermon. Remind yourself of number one, trust in God’s sovereignty, and move on.

3. Learn from it. Another thing you can do after preaching a terrible sermon is to simply learn from the experience. Last night when I had my “terrible sermon” experience, I knew it wasn’t because I didn’t prepare the sermon right or study the Scriptures; it was because I stayed up way too late the night before. I was mentally and physically exhausted which resulted in not being able to communicate God’s Word well. Learning from a terrible sermon is a good way to stay humble as a preacher of God’s Word. Admit it was not your best sermon, and move on by learning from the experience. See what you need to change or do better so you can avoid it next time you preach. As people who are preaching and teaching God’s Word, we must continue to learn and grow from our mistakes.

I hope these simple thoughts will help you when you face your next “terrible sermon.” Even though God’s Word is powerful and can change hearts, we as preachers and teachers will struggle to share it well every time. If you preach God’s Word often, you will have some sermons that are not your best, but rest assured, you will have a few sermons and lessons that you knock out of the park!

Steven Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church, wrote a great article on this same subject. I ran across it after I wrote this post and believe it would be a great article to check out. Click here to view that article.

Choosing Curriculum

One of the things I am currently working on right now in my new student pastor position is choosing a curriculum for the student ministry. This is no small task and can be somewhat overwhelming when you start to discover just how much curriculum is out there for students. Because of the amount of curriculum out there, student pastors need to take time to look around and discover the curriculum that best fits you, your students, and your church. With all that being said, here are some questions to consider when your trying to choose a curriculum for your student ministry:

Does it have Biblical content? The first, and most important thing, you need to consider when you’re looking at curriculum is how much Biblical content does it have. Unfortuantley, there is a lot of curriculum that does not have a lot of Biblical content in it. I believe teaching God’s Word is the most important thing we do as student pastors. God’s Word will change students, so we need to make sure our curriculum has plenty of God’s Word built within in.

Do you want expository and topical? Personally, I lean towards expository teaching. I believe it’s the best way to teach and allows you to keep God’s Word at the center. Even with that conviction, I do not discount or throw away topical teaching. I try and throw in topical lessons and series from time to time and believe they have a place. Because of this, I try to look for curriculum that is a balance between the two. I usually use curriculum that is overall expository, but has topical lessons as well. This is sometimes a hard thing to find. But when your considering curriculum, decide what style of teaching best fits your style of teaching.

Does it agree with your overall church? You need to make sure the theology of your curriculum agrees with the theology of your church. Out of respect for your senior pastor and overall church, try and stay within the theological “circles” that your church is. I say this because you don’t want your students learning one thing in youth group and then another on Sunday mornings. You want your curriclum in the student ministry to compliment and agree with the teaching of your church.

Does it have good media? Some might think this is shallow, but this is huge! In our culture, student ministries need to invest in and have good media. That is why we need to make sure a curriculum has good media with it. Most good curriculums will have good media. Curriculum with good media built in will save you time, energy, and money. It allows you to focus on preparing the lesson rather than spending an hour making a PowerPoint and trying to find a video.

I hope these questions will help you as you look for curriculum for your students. As I said earlier, curriculum is a good thing and believe it you take the time to find the right one it will help your students grow and your teaching to become a vital part of your ministry. Here are a few curriculums I have used or am planning on using that you may want to check out:

Word of Life-This will be your more conservative theology type of curriculum. I lean more towards that, so this is a curriculum I have used and will probably be using more  in the future. Has a great balance between expository and topical and comes with a great media package.

YM 360-If you have not checked out YM 360’s curriculum, you need to! I am planning on using one of their studies in the coming months and have a good relationship with the guys over there. Their  stuff has a lot of Biblical content and comes with probably the best media stuff out there.

Simply Youth Ministry-The curriculum you get from this group will be more broad in theology than others. I have used a lot of there stuff and usually am happy with it. They allow you to edit it and make it your own which is a plus. Also, comes with top notch media.

The Gospel Project (Lifeway)-This is brand new and has not officially been released yet, but from what I can see it looks really good. It’s a Gospel centered and Bible based curriculum. Matt Chandler has been a huge contributor to this and I am looking at using it in our ministry.

Teaching the Bible for All It’s Worth

As I mentioned in my last post, I want to try and share all my notes from this weekend while I am here at The Simply Youth Ministry Conference. This morning I was able to attend a pre-conference track with Duffy Robbins called “Teaching the Bible for All It’s Worth” here at SYMC. One of the things I loved about the workshop was Duffy’s passion about the Word of God. He spent a lot of time at the beginning talking about hermeneutics and Biblical interpretation. This was super encouraging for me because I believe the Bible is the starting point for effective youth ministry. The Bible is what students need. They don’t need our clever ideas or programs, they need God’s Word.

Because of the amount of notes for this tracks, I wanted to just post a link to the PDF of the notes I took. I hope these help you and help you understand how to teach God’s Word to students. Click the link below to see my notes from this track in PDF format.

Teaching the Bible for All It’s Worth (Duffy Robbins)

3 Things Every Student Pastor MUST Do

In the past five years I have had the privilege to see a lot of different student ministries and work along side of many different student pastors. In each ministry I have seen different approaches to student ministry, but in every student ministry I have seen three things that I believe are a must for every student pastor. Whatever your doing in student ministry, I believe you MUST be doing these three things:

1. Teach students the Bible. The most important thing student pastors must do is teach students the Bible. The Word of God is the only thing that can truly change their life and help them follow God for the rest of their life. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this: I believe students need to hear good, solid expository preaching and teaching whenever they come to a youth group meeting. I’m all for small groups, which I believe are vital in student ministry (click here to see my thoughts on this), but student pastors need to teach the Bible in an expository manner to their students. Not only in large youth group gathers, students need to be taught the Bible within small groups that I believe should be a vital part of student ministry. Whatever way your ministry is set up, students have to be taught the Bible. I’m all for relationships and creative styles of discipleship, but I believe solid, Bible teaching is a must for all student pastors.

2. Train and build adult leaders. If you want a growing and healthy student ministry, you must have a team of well-trained adults to do ministry along side of you. Students pastors must spend much of their time recruiting adult leaders, training and equipping them, and giving them opportunities to serve students. In the book The Greenhouse Project, Ric Garland points out that one person can only disciple 5 to 6 students effectively. That means if your ministry has six or more students in it, you have to have adult leaders helping you. Student pastors need to spend the same amount of time building and training leaders as they do spending time with the students.

3. Minister to the parents. I believe a student pastor is not just called to serve the students, they are called to serve the parents as well. The parents are responsible for the spiritual growth of their own students so student pastors must never take that place. We must partner with the parents as we point their students to Christ. Many student pastors spend little time with parents outside just giving them information on events and activities. We as student pastors need to spend time building relationships with the parents, teaching the about the culture of their students, and equipping them with resources to train their students.

These are three things you must be doing as a student pastor. Other things are great and have their place, but we cannot allow these three things to be put on the back burner. Student pastor, teaching your students the Bible, build a healthy leadership team of adults, and always serve the parents.