When I was in the seventh grade, there was a world of difference between a Ralph Lauren Polo shirt and a Knights of the Round Table shirt. To the average eye, the two logos might have looked similar, but to my low self-esteem, obsessed with what people thought about me eyes, they were wildly different.
My friend Dave Bruce and I used to talk about this all the time. The polo guy was on a horse and had a polo mallet. The Knights of the Round Table guy was also on a horse, but he was not carrying a mallet. In his hand was a flag, a flag of shame if you ask me.
One shirt said you were cool and probably would slow dance to Milli Vanilli’s “Blame it on the Rain” at the next dance with Lindsey Newton. The other shirt said your family was thrifty and you weren’t cool.
I cared a lot about these things when I was young and although I’ve matured some, I have to admit sometimes I still get lost in the jungle of logos. I’ve lost my obsession with polo shirts perhaps, but in its place is something new, a slightly eaten piece of fruit.
You rascal of modern consumerism. About a year ago I bought my first macbook pro and I confess, I feel kind of like a seventh grader pulling it out at Starbucks. “Look at me!” my glowing white logo screams at strangers. “I’m creative and hip and probably listen to bands you’ve never heard of!”
And I admit that’s a silly thing for a 34-year old suburban dad to care about, but I fear there is something even sillier on the horizon.
I’m talking about pastors who read their sermon notes from an iPad.
I am not making this up. In the last three days, my cousin and a close friend shared stories of experiencing a pastor iPad moment. And there are a few things that concern me about this:
1. You treat it different than paper
The table/stool combo is popular at a lot of churches right now. And usually, a pastor who has notes, will put them on the table and we’ll never see them. Some also hide them in their Bible. In general, you’d never see a pastor openly carrying a piece of paper on stage essentially reading from his notes as if he were picking a meal off a menu. So then why do you have to carry the iPad so that we can all see it? I think it’s a great place to put your notes, but if you make the argument that you’re just replacing the paper version of notes, keep the iPad on the table instead of showing the crowd because that’s what you would do with the paper.
2. It’s distracting.
The brilliant thing about Apple is that they turn every Apple owner into a disciple and advertisement almost instantly. That’s the point of the bright white symbol on my laptop. It’s a lighthouse of branding to anyone who sees it. Same with carrying around the iPad during a sermon. Whether you mean it or not, you’re advertising Apple during the sermon and you can’t tell me there aren’t people in the crowd that spend more time watching you engage with the iPad than they do thinking about your message. That product is captivating to watch in action and when you scroll through Bible verses with a swipe of your fingers, people think about Apple, not necessarily the verse.
3. Sometimes it feels at odds with the message.
My friend was recently at a conference and the minister spoke about the need to help the homeless. From his iPad. Now clearly, it’s not as if he was going to fix homelessness if he had instead given away the money he spent on his iPad, but it feels weird. Then my cousin heard a sermon about the foolish rich man who built a bigger barn with all his riches. Also from an iPad. Again, it’s a little odd to talk about being thrifty and not caring about the stuff as you preach from a device that is possibly, not exactly necessary. (Believe me, I’ve tried to convince my wife I need one, and have failed to explain why someone owning a laptop and an iPhone needs an iPad.)
4. You remind me of Gob.
On the show “Arrested Development,” the character Gob rode around on a Segway all the time. It was a weird way to travel and he was constantly bumping into things in his attempt to be an early adopter of technology. That’s kind of what it feels like when you say, “Please turn in your iPad to the book of Joel.”
Pastors, please buy a billion iPads. I’m trying to get one right now. And I hate when people like me try to tell you what kind of car you can drive and get crazy about pastors and money. But just be careful you don’t turn into seventh grade Jon Acuff with your logo affections. He had really bad skin and was awkward and thought that Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was perhaps the greatest song ever written. And nobody wants their pastor to become like that.
What’s your take?
Would you notice if a pastor read sermon notes from an iPad?