I stood in line when the iPad 2 was released and bought our first one for my son who’s in college. A few weeks later I bought one for me, and I’ve never regretted the purchase. I traveled to conference centers this summer and made presentations directly from my iPad using Keynote, a cousin to PowerPoint. I have numerous Bibles and Bible study programs on my iPad, social media apps that keep me connected to the world (I’ve actually blogged from my iPad on this blog), plus financial apps, gaming apps, and the list goes on…and my iPad still has 45 gigs of space left…I don’t think I’ll be running out of space any time soon. My church staff are considering whether or not they would benefit from having an iPad, and I say a resounding “yes.” I can’t imagine living without mine.
I came across an article written by a friend and colleague of mine, Aaron Linne. Aaron is executive producer of digital marketing for the B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. He writes a monthly technology column for Baptist Press. Here are 5 ways Aaron says tablets will change the way you and your church do ministry. The original article can be found by clicking here.
1) Face to face conversations.
The iPad 2 ships with a front-facing camera, as do most Android tablets. The tablet is just the right size to fill the screen with a friend’s head, and have them feel like they are there in the room with you. Now your missionaries will be able to easily call to their home church on a Sunday morning over WiFi and give an update on how things are going. Discipleship on the Internet can begin to be more real; in a face-to-face conversation you can tell if that person is paying attention or playing a game. Facial expressions will have meaning again, and not have to be driven down to little emoticons.
2) Easier access to text resources.
Missionaries can’t afford to ship their entire library overseas, but they can bring along a slim device that carries $5,000 worth of commentaries downloaded on it. Was there some great text that influenced your theology when you were in college? It may be out of print, but — now — it might be readily accessible through one of the plethora of digital reader apps. When it’s Saturday night and you’re putting those final touches on the Sunday School lesson, you might not be able to head out to the church library for the commentary set you need. But, you might just be able to pull it up right away from your digital book collection. Tablets create such a better reading experience than either a phone or a computer screen; holding a tablet feels like holding a book. Tablets will be the natural method of reading for the rising generation.
3) Owning your church’s app.
You just got done with you awesome new website, I know, but have you started on your app yet? As the operating system companies continue to look for competitive advantages over their competitors, we are going to have a new norm of cyclical change. Web browsers and online sites will catch up to the abilities of tablet apps (like we’re seeing with HTML5), then tablets will improve and the flow will go back to apps being more advanced that browsers can hope to be, and so on. If your church doesn’t have an app in the coming years that is constantly updated like your website, the rising culture (not just the rising generation) might feel disconnected. A website is your billboard for the church attendee; owning the app means that they are a part of something.
4) No more guest cards?
Windows 8 has announced support for NFC (near-field communication) and the Nexus S 4G (an Android device) is already out with it. NFC allows you to share basic information with other NFC-enabled devices, just by being close to them and tapping. Want to leave your personal information for the church to contact you? Just tap your phone on the church’s information tablet in the back. Are you a member and want to tithe through your credit card? Just tap that, too.
5) Your pastor may not need an office.
That’s what we do with our pastor at Mosaic Nashville. We’ve never rented office space for our pastor. Instead, he goes to different coffee shops each day to meet with different people and be a part of the local community. There are only four things that tie a pastor to an office: their computer (it’s portable now via the tablet), their library (it’s in the tablet), knowing where the pastor will be (now broadcast via twitter and Facebook), and privacy.
As tablets become more available in more flavors, there are going to be feature sets and price points that exactly match your ministry’s needs. The goal of a computer on every desk will be quickly forgotten, just as the art of handwriting begins its exit as well. So … have you picked up a tablet lately?