Chances are (if you’re reading this blog) you know about the launch of the Apple iPad. Perhaps you’re curious about its potential for use in a ministry context. Perhaps you have a strong opinion (for or against) based on your technological preference. I own one. Here are my initial thoughts.

The iPad makes your research tools more accessible.

Logos has a version for the iPad which gives you access to your books in the iPad form factor. This is one step closer to the resolution of the debate between paper vs. digital commentaries. PDF documents are common in pastoral libraries. Many of the original sources have been converted to PDF thanks the ceaseless work of the people at Ages Digital Library and other groups such as CCEL. I like to print out my PDFs and mark them up with a yellow highlighter and red pen. iAnnotate for the iPad gives you the same functionality with the ability to correlate your annotations for easy reference when you’re trying to remember where you got that incredible quote or illustration from. Another neat feature in iAnnotate is the ability to open multiple PDFs in a tabbed interface allowing for cross referencing. The convergence of Apple iBooks, Amazon Kindle, B&N eReader, and free programs like Stanza onto one device is a great benefit for book lovers. I’m reading Os Guiness’ The Call through Kindle and a book on the history of China through B&N.

The iPad can change the context of your working environment.

The evangelists of the Great Awakening used to study and pray on horseback. Ministers now have the opportunity with a form factor that fits somewhere between a traditional notepad and a smart phone. I see a lot of benefit in the prepaid 3G plans for Australian readers. It allows you to use the Internet and email in the native form factor when you are out of the office.

Taking notes on the iPad produces mixed results.

As a touch typist, I find that if I trust the flat interface it produces excellent results. At this point I am still double guessing myself as my hammer-fingers look for some form of tacticity on the glass screen. I might get used to it. But the Bluetooth keyboard is a great addition.

Most of the ministers that I know adopted some form of PDA (palm, pocket pc, etc.) prior to the adoption of smartphones. I don’t think that you can classify the iPad in the same category. Give it a try and let’s get some more ministry-related feedback on its potential. I’ll be happy to answer your specific questions as well. By the way, don’t think that the iPad will magically cure daydreaming, tiredness, or difficult textual problems. It’s only a tool.

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About Jeremy Kwok

Jeremy grew up in Sydney before moving to the United States for tertiary studies. Jeremy completed the BA, MA (History), and M.Div degrees before returning to Australia with his wife Debbie. He currently works for Christian Education Ministries, a company that owns and operates private schools.


  1. Alen Basic 3 June, 2010 at 12:09 am - Reply

    I understand in business environments it may have a very practical use but outside that (and perhaps its use as a very expensive toy) as a tool to be used practically, I don’t know..

    Cost factored in, I don’t think an iPad is very practical. For that money you can get a decent laptop that gives you greater command over what you want to do and not to mention a much larger resource of applications available.

    If the cost was dramatically reduced I could see getting one and putting it to use as a tool midway between my phone and my laptop. Other than that, it is a cool toy that may be awesome to play games on but realistically will probably (after the newness fades off) be put on the shelf to collect dust.

  2. Jeremy Kwok 3 June, 2010 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    It was hard for me to put a value equation on the device in between the iphone and the Macbook. For example, today I travelled interstate carrying the iphone and the ipad only. I used the iphone for several phone calls and the iPad for everything else. The instant on/off was a great benefit for email, scheduling appointments, and taking notes. On the plane flight, I read and annotated some files. I think the form factor has the potential to replace a laptop if you can clearly identify your personal workflow. We are so web-based. Most pastors need internet access, communication, document creation, and research tools.

    If I didn’t do any photo/video editing – I could probably do most of the rest on the iPad. I haven’t bought any games…. :)

    In my article – I alluded to the uptake of PDAs in the ministry context in the early 00s. I didn’t see very effective uses for that form factor beyond the novelty factor. But a lot of pastors had them.

  3. Jeremy Kwok 3 June, 2010 at 4:51 pm - Reply
  4. Jason Harris 7 June, 2010 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    I am not a Mac fan by any stretch, but I can see me getting an iPad. Probably not in the next year or so, but once the technology concept has had a chance to develop (and get cheaper!). I like the mid sized concept. The durability. The portability.

    It would be invaluable as a diary (or day planner) and to have email on the road. Additionally, the ability to search the web and use Bible study software would make it ideal for study on the road.

    I can also see it being useful in taking notes in counselling, etc. And spacially, it is far more economic than the pile of books I often travel with.

    There’s just something about the shape and size that seems like it would be more practical than using a laptop in the same applications.

  5. Jim Blanchard 9 June, 2010 at 10:41 pm - Reply

    Hi Jeremy, great review. Lord willing, I’m planning to get an iPad in the future, but I’m wondering about the digital books I have now. If I get an ebook for the iPhone Kindle app or Stanza for iPhone, for example, will I be able to use those same documents on the iPad? I’m getting the sense that I will, but haven’t found the definitive answer.

  6. Jeremy Kwok 9 June, 2010 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    Hey Jim – Yes you can – I have previously purchased Kindle & B&N books on the iPad. I’m still coming to grips with using ebooks in a research/citation environment. They still have a ways to go before you can use them in that setting. On the flip side – there’s no easier way to highlight and annotate because it’s digitally sequenced and searchable.

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