If we’re older, there’s the danger that we’ll despise the use of technology in ministry. If we’re younger, there’s the danger of despising those who don’t use technology much at all. It’s important that we don’t make our preference the rule for others but find whatever works best for our minds, talents and methods. Let’s be careful that we don’t let use lead to abuse, or abuse lead to non-use.
THE BENEFITS OF TECHNOLOGY
Although some modern Bible software is expensive to buy and some of the books are also quite expensive, on the whole they are good value. If you keep your eye open, you can usually pick up software packages and individual books at significant discounts. There are also websites that offer many free books for Logos. Also, if you use the Kindle App on your computer, you will be able to buy some of the quality Christian books that Amazon offers daily.
With the help of my Mac and my Kindle, I can now carry thousands of books with me wherever I go and access my books even without Internet access. That allows me to prepare sermons in airports, on planes, hotel rooms, etc. Logos also syncs its software with its tablet and smartphone App.
Most Bible software and some online software are regularly updated with the latest morphological, syntactical and archaeological research, lending increased accuracy to our studies. That helps us to avoid relying on dated information that is no longer credible. Remember, the wide availability of Bible software has also made it easier for people to check what we are saying on their smartphones in their pews as they listen to us. That should challenge us to do thorough research!
Technology has the potential to save us hours of time. It is simply much quicker to hover over a word on Logos and get immediate parsing and lexical information than to do this using parsing guides and lexicons. Same goes for counting up how many times a word is used in a chapter, a book or in the whole Bible. Some software will even present this information in color on pie and bar charts.
If I want to study something like justification, I can enter that word on Logos and it will open every resource in my library that refers to justification. It’s like standing in front of a library of hundreds of books, saying “Justification,” and all the books in our library immediately open on our desk at that subject. In addition, I have all my preached sermons filed in Evernote, which allows me to search all my previous sermons for specific words, phrases or topics.
Although it might be thought that the use of technology for original language study might undermine a preacher’s ongoing development in Greek and Hebrew, I’ve found the opposite to be the case. Most “purists” who don’t use technology for this eventually discover their approach is unsustainable in pastoral ministry, and not only give up their idealism but also their Greek and Hebrew. Those who take a more pragmatic approach, using some of the God-given tools to make the task easier, usually find that over the years they are using the technology less as they have absorbed so much Greek and Hebrew through regular exposure to the languages through the technology.
Technology allows us to extend the life and usefulness of sermons by uploading them to sites like sermonaudio.com. We might also use parts of some sermons as blog posts or take out certain sentences to use as quotations on Twitter or Facebook. I know many ministers who use the Logos notes feature to attach their sermons to specific texts, so that if they are studying them in future, the notes are right there for them to access, again extending their usefulness into the future.
EXAMPLES OF HOW I USE TECHNOLOGY
Although Logos is more expensive than other options, and it’s bulky and frustrating at times, on balance it’s the best option for me. Following are some of the ways I use Logos in weekly sermon preparation (although much of what I write here is also transferrable to other Bible Software programs such as Bibleworks and Accordance).
Delimiting the Text
Once I have spent some time working on delimiting my text, I usually check it using the Logos Compare Periscope tool, which lets me compare how different Bible versions have decided where the paragraph begins or ends. That can either confirm me in my decision or else challenge me to think further.
Comparing the Text
Before beginning to look at the text in Greek or Hebrew, I usually use the Logos Text Comparison tool to study five or six different English versions of the passage, looking for how different versions use different words, tenses, order, missed words, added words, etc. I do this to make my original language study more efficient by focusing my study on the words and phrases where there is some significant disagreement. It’s not that I don’t spend any time studying the words and phrases that are uniformly translated; rather, it helps me know where I have to spend most of my time.
Logos allows me to hover over a word, discover its lemma and then do a number of different kinds of word studies of varying complexity using different tools. Each word study probably takes about five to 10 minutes compared to perhaps an hour of similar study using books and concordances, and produces far more accurate, independent and comprehensive results.