Carrying the 10 Commandments Down on iPads Not Tablets (of Stone)

Sorry, but an image of Moses coming down with the 10 commandments on two iPads comes to mind as I continue to ponder the purchase of a cool toy for work purposes.

When Apple’s first iPad came out I decided that I didn’t like the name of the gizmo, but I liked the gizmo enough to wait until the second version came out to make the leap. It gave me time to watch all of my tech-savvy friends experiment and give me a better handle on how it might suit my needs and purposes.

Lately, I’ve been watching ministry friends use their iPads in different settings – in larger meetings for note-taking, in smaller meetings to show and interact with data, etc. Many are using it as an e-reader and some are using it instead of paper for their speaking notes and outlines.

The other day I saw someone using an iPad instead of paper notes to make public announcements and lead people through a worship service. I loved it. I thought it looked clean – no papers to shuffle or lectionary to hold. Just yesterday I preached at both Sunday services at church, and I walked up trying not to look to overloaded with my Bible and sermon notes.

But I imagine that others aren’t so enamored by technology, especially in the context of church and worship. I remember the days of hymnals – there was no other way to sing. That gave way to overhead projectors or flip-charts with lyrics only, which eventually was replaced by overhead projectors and computers. The technology isn’t perfect, and often user-error is part of the delayed transitions or missing or incorrect slides. Some don’t like the absence of an actual score, while I personally dislike the awkward positioning of the projection because so many churches were built before the technology.

I’m also wrestling with the cost. I’ve put myself on a fairly tight personal spending budget, and my ministry budget is probably even tighter. A part of me struggles with being the consumer Christian ministry worker because I want to be and am called to be a wise steward of the financial support given to me to support ministry. But I don’t want to spend $100+ in stamps four times a year to mail paper prayer letters (that is a lot of paper) when some letters get unread and the vast majority of others prefer e-mails, PDFs and web-based newsletters (I’m still working on that). I know. Poor me.

But I’m honestly curious. What do you think? What role, if any, should iPads and tablet technology have on Sunday? Do you find the presence of computers, cellphones, pagers (personal and for the nursery), iPads, etc. distracting or helpful or neutral? Do you use an iPad for your sermon notes and if so what kind of feedback, if any, have you gotten? Have you seen speakers or pastors use an iPad and what did you think?