[Note: This is part two in a series discussing practical, pastoral uses of an iPad. You might find it helpful to start with part 1.]
A pastor’s number one job is not to feed the sheep or even to tend to the flock in his* own home. A pastor’s number one task is to keep himself in submission to his Shepherd, to be continually recommitting himself to a deepening relationship with Jesus. That might sound trite, but it’s so very true. Too many pastors sacrifice both their spiritual health and their families for the ministry: this is not what God has called them to do. A good shepherd makes sure that he is right with God so that he can rightly care for his family—his first calling as a husband and father—and the church.
Given that, an iPad could serve quite well as a tool for guiding and energizing our spiritual development. That that end, let’s now look at several iPad apps that can be used for this purpose.
Every pastor’s first app download out to be some manner of Bible app. Personally, I use YouVersion’s aptly named “Bible” app because of it’s wonderfully helpful reading plans. There are so many decisions that a pastor has to make throughout the day. Having a Bible reading plan de-fangs one of those decisions—until it’s time to choose a new one! The best part of using YouVersion is that it’s free and syncs between their website and iPhone app, giving you a plethora of ways to interact with God’s word. Reading plans and platform dominance aside, YouVersion also has a host of learning and study tools such as highlights, bookmarks, notes, and sharing integration. It’s truly a wonderful app for no cost at all! And of course, if you’re using YouVersion, you can recommend it to your people and integrate it into how your church does ministry.
Kindle (Or Other eBook Apps)
We’ll come back to the Kindle app in a later post about the pastoral need for intellectual stimulation, but we cannot overemphasize the role of the Kindle in providing some very helpful, spiritually edifying reading. Now, I’m highlighting the Kindle app for two reasons:
- It seems to me to be the superior reading app for all of the tools and options it provides.
- Amazon’s Kindle store offers more free and cheaply priced quality books than any of the others.
Now, I’m sure that there are some third-party apps that can read .MOBI files (Amazon’s chosen ebook format), but I’d just as soon have all of my ebook reading synced and saved across platforms (i.e. my desktop, iPad, and iPhone apps). Of course, iBooks, Apple’s e-reader app is catching up, and their pricing structure is quickly matching Amazon’s, but I’m too far into Kindle to switch.
Currently, I’m reading one EM Bounds books about prayer. Why? Because he doesn’t write to encourage my to pray. He writes to dismantle arguments against prayer and to convict his reader about their lack of prayer. Next, I’ll be reading through the first volume of CH Spurgeon’s sermons. To learn how to preach like him? Not at all. (I don’t actually care for his style.) No, I want to read his sermons because I want to have some pastors of solid reputation to be speaking into my life.
New City Catechism
As a Pentecostal, I wasn’t raised with much of a liturgy or even a deep sense of church, even denominational, history. That’s why, as I’ve gotten older, I been reading a book or two about monastic practices and have tried to get into using a catechism. I’ve chosen the New City Catechism for that purpose because of it’s excellent iPad app, which I reviewed earlier this year. Free and very cool, completely worth it, but why? Because it’s a tool designed to train our focus on God. Theology has been called the “queen of sciences,” and while we’re not talking about intellectual development, I think that CH Spurgeon had a great quote on this point:
“There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.”
The first step to worship—to me, at least—is to focus the mind on God so that the spirit can rise up to meet Him. A good catechism like New City can do that for you.
Evernote/Notes/DayOne—Journaling App of Your Choice
This is a nebulous category but journaling or self-reflective writing of some kind is very important and can provide you with an opportunity to monitor your growth and process your thoughts. More importantly, it provides you a way to record what you’re learning as you grow in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Sometimes, I write little notes to myself. Sometimes I write poems. Sometimes I simply copy and paste old hymns into my Evernote notebook to look over later during times of meditation or prayer.
Honorable Mention: Habit List (Zoom Mode)
If you’re not using Habit List on your iPhone—or if you don’t have one—you should get it on your iPad. It’s a fantastic app that I’ve found very helpful in building good habits, many of them spiritual. Caveat: it’s designed only for your iPhone, but it will run in zoom mode on your iPad. Plus, it doesn’t sync between devices. (Yet, I hope.) Now, the app still functions just fine, and you could create separate lists designed to build habits specific to the device you would use for that habit, i.e. a reading habit might good for your iPad list since you’re more likely to use the Kindle app on your iPad.
Next time, we’ll be looking at how a pastor can use his iPad as a “shepherd’s crook,” so stay tuned!
*For simplicity’s sake, I will be referring to pastors as men. I’m not a sexist: I’m a lazy realist. I do not want to have to qualify each statement, nor do I want to use some of our politically correct bastardizations of English such as “he/she.” And yet, I do feel slightly justified in that the vast majority of the ministers I know are males; however, I cannot be a realist without acknowledging the very real and respectable ministry of women.