How to Use an iPad for Preaching

Posted on Posted in Preaching

When it comes to using notes while speaking, there are 4 kinds of people:

1. Those who use a full manuscript.

2. Those who use an outline.

3. Those who use a confidence monitor.

4. Those who preach without any notes.

Which one are you?

Many preachers begin by writing a full manuscript, but then work it down to an outline that they carry with them to the stage for delivery.

It’s just that delivery part that I’m talking about right now. What do you take on stage with you?

Unless you’re using a confidence monitor for notes, you carry some kind of paper to the stage when you speak. Maybe it’s an index card. Maybe it’s a single sheet. Maybe it’s several sheets. Maybe it’s a few Post-It notes stuck in your Bible. Whatever the case, you have paper.

Why use an iPad for preaching?

I suggest you switch to an iPad for preaching for one simple reason: It’s the 21st century.

Technology is moving forward, and you don’t want to be perceived as someone who doesn’t know how to use it.

Remember phone books?

When is the last time you used one?

Why haven’t you used a phone book recently?

Because technology gave us a better way to find the phone numbers we need.

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When you carry paper to the stage, it sends the message that you’re stuck in the 20th century. That’s not the message you want students to hear.

Get an iPad. Get an iPad Mini. Get whatever device you can that will allow you to get rid of the paper.

When you do, you’ll need to know the best way to preach from it. That’s what I want to share with you.

The best way to use an iPad for preaching:

1. Create your manuscript, notes, or outline as a .doc file. Be sure to add your bold font, italics, and highlights. There’s no cost for color ink, so you might as well make your key texts stand out.

2. Save it as a .pdf file.

3. If you have Google Drive installed on your computer, then copy the file and paste it in your Google Drive folder. You could simply drag and drop the file into that folder if you want to, but that would cause the file to relocate from where you originally had it saved.

I prefer to copy and paste it because it creates two files. I delete the one from Google Drive after I’m done with it. The original is still where I keep all the other messages I’ve written on my computer.

If you don’t have Google Drive installed on your computer, then open Click “upload” and then “file.” Select the file and it will upload.

4. Open the file using the Google Drive app on your iPad.

5. When I open my file, the very top of page 2 is showing on the bottom of the screen. I zoom in until all I see is page 1. Then take a screenshot on the iPad. Do that for each page of your notes.

6. The screenshots are saved as pictures in your Camera Roll. Close the Google Drive app and open the Photos app on your iPad. You’ll see your notes there: each picture is a page of your notes.

I prefer doing screenshots because it allows me to occasionally swipe across to advance the notes with consistency rather than continuously swiping up and down to scroll through a little at a time in the Google Drive app. When you swipe up and down, there’s no consistency in how far you’re advancing the notes. If you get a good swipe, you might go too far. Then you’re stuck trying to scroll back up a bit. If you get a bad swipe, you might not go far enough, and you’re left trying to scroll down a little more. In the end, you end up looking at the iPad and swiping more than is necessary. That’s why I do screenshots.

Also, screenshots don’t require you to have an internet connection when you’re speaking. If you only rely on the Google Drive app (or Dropbox, etc.), then you’re at the mercy of the internet. If it stops working in the middle of your message, then your notes are useless. Screenshots aren’t affected by your internet connection.

7. Make sure you turn on Airplane mode before you get up to speak. If you have your Apple account connected to your phone, it will ring in the middle of your message if someone tries to call you.

8. Lock the screen orientation so it doesn’t bounce back and forth from portrait to landscape. Pick which one you like best, and lock it in.

9. Set the iPad on your table, pulpit, or music stand just like you normally do with your notes. Where before you would turn the page, now you’re set to simply swipe left.


If you aren’t using an iPad yet, what’s holding you back?

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Trevor Hamaker (DMin, McAfee School of Theology) is an author, adjunct professor, and youth ministry coach. He helps youth pastors see their potential, develop their skills, and reach their goals.

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4 thoughts on “How to Use an iPad for Preaching

  1. I love the idea of using Google Drive, but since Apple has provided iCloud. I have found that if I save my sermon, notes, whatnot, to iCloud it pops up automatically to my other devices. Just a way to save time!

  2. Great tips for using an iPad for preaching – thanks for sharing.

    I love the tip about the screen shots!… and the importance of Airplane mode so your email is not constantly popping in.

    But I do not think for a minute that using paper will in any way affect your preaching in the eyes of those who are open to the Spirit at work through you.

    I may start using it for some of my longer talks, I still prefer just taking my Bible up with me, along with a few post it flags and a post it note or two.

    < Craig

    Keep sharing for the growth of the Kingdom!

    1. Craig,
      The screen shots fundamentally changed the way I use an iPad to preach. I’m glad you found that tip helpful. I agree, people who are open to the Spirit might not mind the use of paper notes. However, I also realize that people who aren’t open to the Spirit are present during the message. They build their judgments about us from the moment we walk on the stage and begin speaking. Many of them believe we’re irrelevant from the start. I think that using an iPad (or other electronic device) is one way to at least mitigate the objection that churches are irrelevant and disengaged from contemporary culture.

      If you’re just taking your Bible and a few Post-It Notes, you’ve already gotten to a good place. It’s the guys who stand up with 13 pages of paper notes and turn them one by one as they read them that I had in mind with this post.

      Thanks for the comment!

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