Tablets in Church?

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Looking back on technology in 2013, tablets were a pretty important item. The first Apple iPad was released in 2010, so the tablets have been around a while now, but it seems to me that they were still quite newsworthy throughout 2013. If not newsworthy, they were at least penetrating more and more into our lives, including our work lives.

Have you found this to be true? Are you or your co-workers using tablets at work? Are you and your friends and families using them at home? It’s kind of amazing to me to remember that when I first heard about the iPad I had a hard time coming up with any reason it would be useful. They sounded interesting and all, but I didn’t see the necessity for them. And at first, they were touted more as a device for consumption than for production. Now, though, they are approaching a level where you could consider having only a tablet instead of a computer. I’m sure some people are already at that level with them.

How about at church? Are you, your minister, your church staff members, your church family members, using tablets in your church life? I’d love to hear how you are using them. So far at my church it’s fairly minimal. Some of us have used a tablet or smartphone to read from rather than a printed piece of paper. There are lots of possibilities, though. Some churches are using tablets to take offerings. They can use an app like Square to accept payments with credit or debit cards. Some pastors are using them for reading their sermon.

There’s an article here about a church trying out tablets to make the service more accessible for those with failing eyesight. Another article talks about the use of tablets and smartphones for reading along with the Scripture, using Twitter to discuss a topic with others, and reviewing their worship materials before a service. Of course, there are multitudes of apps out there for church use - Bible apps, music, mobile websites, and so on.

I was thinking about this topic today and wondered if anyone is using tablets for running their audio-visual projections. With a device such as the Apple TV, you can mirror what’s on your tablet onto a flat panel. I wrote last time about our trials and tribulations of purchasing a projector at my church. I wonder if we could move to flat panels and an Apple TV and maybe not even need someone to be in a booth at the back of the church. Perhaps someone could sit in the pews and run the projection. Or maybe the worship leaders or pastor could run it from the front, or the pulpit. Are any of you doing something like that in your church?

Lots of possibilities. What are you doing? What ideas do you have for the future use of tablets or other mobile devices in church?

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Participant

There are a lot of great apps to use in worship as well.  I recently bought an iPad 2 for just a few simple but important uses.  One is to preach from.  I tried my Kindle Fire but the screen is just a bit too small.  Great for reading but that's about it. A second app I use regularly is OnSong which lets me keep all my sheet music on and display set lists when I lead worship (I plan on doing a review of this software for the Worship page on the Network).  I'm also in another band and keep all our songs on there.  I have an iPad holder that mounts to my mic stand so no more music stand in the way.  It's sooo versatile.  I'm an Apple guy now so all my devices sync which makes life even better.

Participant

I'll have to check out the gadgets and apps, Allen. They sound cool! My pastor would like your comment about Apple making "life even better." He's a true Apple guy. :) Thanks for the input!

I use my Kindle during Workship for notes and Hi-liting the scripture...Also use it to compare versions, and to use comentaries ....epecially when using the Bible Gateway ( www.bibllegateway.com . )  More than 90% of my personal reading is done on my Kindle, including news, seminary classes, and e-mail..

Participant

Hi Smitty! Sounds like you get really good use from your Kindle. I still prefer the iPad for some of the other apps it's got that the Kindle doesn't, plus I can still use the Kindle app on it. But the Kindle is a better price and it's adding features all the time. 

I love using Kindle for highlighting, as you mentioned. When I read a book for a book club, it's so nice to be able to quickly find my highlighted areas for discussion.

I also love books, though, and even converted a bedroom in my house to a library. I love the feel of books, the smell of books, the look of them, the whole deal. So I feel too guilty to do all my reading on my device. As a compromise, right now I typically read non-fiction in Kindle, and fiction in "real books." It salves my conscience anyway! :)

My wife Ellen and I play weekly in our "Grace Gospel Band". We play in a different Senior facility each week combining worship, instrumentals and group singing. I have all our music scores and lyrics on my tablet and placing it on a music stand, I can swipe to the next song easily. Since  these facilities are kept quite warm there are fans blowing. Having our music on a tablet avoids paper sheet music from blowing away.

You raised the possibility of controling sound and lighting from a tablet. That is already being done from anywhere in church. I heard of one sound person controling the sound from a seat well forward in the sanctuary. After the  service as he was walking down the isle to exit with the rest of the visitors, an elderly lady chastised him loudly for playing games on his game pad during a church worship service. His explanation did not "fly" with her!

Participant

We had a guest praise band last week that had all their music and songs on tablets, too. Seems like a great way to go. I love the story of the sound controller being accused of gaming in church. I can totally see how that could happen!

I use ShowDirector to change PowerPoint slides during the sermon. I have the entire service uploaded via Box.com as a PDF to my Android tablet. No more printing everything out on paper. It reduces the amount of stuff I have in a filing cabinet... but you really have to be diligent in maintaining one central place for all your electronic files and keep them up to date.

I'm considering how to use Logos software with parishioners for not only Bible study, but for sermon preparation. I won't tackle that one for awhile. Too many other good things to juggle at this time.

Participant

Nice, Richard! You'll have to share if/when you start using Logos for the parishioners. I know -- hard to keep up with all the good things out there!

We use a tablet to control our soundboard.  For simpler services (like our evening service) this allows the sound technician to sit with the congregation.

Participant

Hi John, that's cool you guys are already doing it. How nice the technician can enjoy being with the congregation. Thanks for the comment!

I used the tablet a few times for the children's message because pictures can be accessed and shown for the message.  They connect to technology and pay attention to it.  My husband is visually impared and if he were not so conscious about it, he would use the pad to read the Bible passage.  Too many people frown on it yet so we must get them educated on these points. Another 8 years ought to do it!

Participant

8 years! Let's hope it doesn't take that long! Maybe your husband should consider being the driving force - he could go for it and show everyone what it does and why it's a good thing, nothing to frown about. And if the technology helps him because of his visual impairment, all the better it seems to me.

I hadn't thought of using it for children's messages, but that is a really good idea. 

Thanks for sharing, Jane.

Participant

I agree with Allen Onsong is a great app.  I preach from my Ipad too and encourage my folks to read their Bible from it.

Participant

Thanks, Brad! Your response reminded me to pass this info about Onsong on to my praise team. I meant to do it when Allen mentioned it but had forgotten. It's great to learn about different apps and technologies that are helping us lead worship or do other "churchly" activities.

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