William Wilberforce (1759–1833) was the English politician and Christian philanthropist who led the abolition of the British slave trade. Wilberforce was Born in Yorkshire, England, but his father died when William was just 8 years old, so he went to live with his aunt and uncle, Hannah and William. (It may be of interest to the readers of this blog that Wilberforce’s aunt Hannah was the sister of Christian philanthropist John Thornton). Because of the wealth of his parents, he was able to live comfortably even with minimal work.
When he was 21, Wilberforce won the seat in the House of Commons in his hometown, Hull, because of the money he was able to invest and because of his great oratorical skills. This vocational move began 50 years in English politics for Wilberforce. In 1784, he was elected to a much more influential seat in Yorkshire. It wasn’t until he turned 37 that he met and—2 weeks later!—married his wife, Barbara Ann Spooner. In the first eight years of their marriage, they had four sons and two daughters. Wilberforce was devoted to the cause of abolishing the African Slave Trade for the rest of his life.
The aunt and uncle Wilberforce lived with were evangelical Christians. But concerned that her son was “turning Methodist,” his mother sent him to a boarding school. When there he lost interest in Christianity and cared more about being accepted by the social elite. But when he was 25, Wilberforce connected with Isaac Milner, a friend he met in grammar school who had since trusted in Christ. After talking with Milner at length about his hostilities and objections against Christianity, Wilberforce professed faith in Christ.
His conversion was not merely a private matter. Rather, his new faith led him to change his own lifestyle and to care for those in need. One of Wilberforce’s biographers, John Pollock, wrote, “He lacked time for half the good works in his mind.” But he believed that such good works could come from a new heart that only God can give. Thus, he was both doctrinal and pragmatic. He loved the truths of justification by faith alone, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, and the substitutionary work of Jesus. But he also loved pursuing justice for the poor, needy, and enslaved.
While Wilberforce is obviously most remembered for his arduous work against the British slave trade, he also made numerous other vocational and financial contributions to the work of Christ’s kingdom. He volunteered for dozens of societies. For example, he worked for the Church Missionary Society, the British and Foreign Bible Society, the Sunday School Society, the Society for Bettering the Condition of the Poor, and he even helped send missionaries to India and Africa. In fact, Wilberforce made major contributions to at least seventy such societies. He also used his wealth to help relieve the suffering of the manufacturing poor, French refugees and other foreigners in distress. Beside all that, he was also active in numerous reform movements including hospital care, fever institutions, asylums, infirmaries, refugees, and penitentiaries.
Finally, Wilberforce wrote a book called, A Practical View of Christianity, which had five printings in six months and was translated into five foreign languages. In it, he articulated the doctrines particular to Christianity which give rise to godly affections (or emotions). He also supported other religious publications and education, especially the schools of Hannah More, a close friend and leading reformer of British education. After ending the slave trade, Wilberforce spent the next 25 years seeking to end the institution of slavery itself. Providentially, three days before he died, Wilberforce heard that the House of Commons had passed a law emancipating all slaves in the British Empire.
Tim Challies is a pioneer in Christian blogging (www.challies.com) and author of the Discipline of Spiritual Discernment (Crossway) and The Next Story: Life and Faith after the Digital Explosion (Zondervan).
About a year ago, or maybe a little more, Paul Martin (the Senior Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church) went away for a couple of weeks and left me to preach. Because I prepare my sermons digitally, I was finding it increasingly silly to convert them into the older medium of paper. They say that “while the cat’s away the mice will play,” so I took this as an opportunity to begin preaching from an iPad instead of a paper manuscript. I have been preaching from that iPad ever since.
There are many ways to go about it, but I will tell you about the system I have been using for the past year or so. I have found that it works very well. You need only two programs to do this: Pages and GoodReader (or Word and GoodReader if you use aPC). While I continue to use a full-size iPad, this system will work just as well with the Mini.
1. Prepare Yourself
Preaching from an iPad can be a little bit intimidating at first, largely because we have a good deal of confidence in paper and a lot less confidence in electronics. It always amuses me that if something goes wrong with your paper manuscript (e.g. You drop it, or the pages get out of order) you blame yourself, but if something goes wrong with the iPad, you blame the iPad. The fact is, both are simply media and both have advantages and disadvantages, strengths and weaknesses. If you are going to preach from an iPad, you have got to do it boldly, not dreading it and not convinced that something will go wrong. Make sure you understand the process and be sure you practice it a few times. At the beginning you may want to take a paper backup with you as a means of increasing your confidence.
2. Get a Case
While the iPad is an excellent tool for preaching, it can also serve as a distraction if people think, “He’s preaching from an iPad!” This concern is fast fading as iPads become ubiquitous, but for the time being, I find there is value in using a case that looks like a notepad. This is not to hide the fact that you are preaching from your iPad as much as it is to keep the fact from becoming a distraction. The cases from Pad & Quill are excellent, though there are also less-expensive alternatives.
3. Prepare Your Manuscript
I have found the best tools to use are Pages and GoodReader. Pages is excellent for preparing your notes or your manuscript. Using iCloud, you can prepare it on your computer and have it automatically sync to the iPad. When you are finished, bump the font size to 16 or 18. It will look obnoxiously large, but make it far more readable at a glance. The new version of Pages allows you to very easily add page numbers which can be helpful with your pacing. Once your sermon is ready to go in pages, you’ll need to get your file to GoodReader. To do this, tap the icon at the top right (the square with the arrow pointing up) and then “Open in Another App,” “PDF,” “Choose App” and “Open in GoodReader.” A couple of seconds later you will be ready to go.
The reason you want to preach from GoodReader rather than Pages is that it allows you to swipe or tap from one page to the next; you do not want to scroll from page to page as it is too easy to lose your place.
If you use a PC, find a program (such as Word) that will allow you to save a PDF file, and either email that to yourself or use Dropbox to transfer it to your iPad. Then open it in GoodReader.
4. Charge It
You will want to be sure that your iPad has enough of a charge to get through your sermon. The last thing you want is to be giving part of your brain to worrying about how long it will be before the iPad shuts down. I find that a 45-minute sermon takes only 10% of the battery (and that’s with an older iPad), but to be safe, I always charge it up all the way.
5. Reverse the Screen
The iPad has a bright and glowing screen and depending on the lighting in your church, the angle of the pulpit, and other factors, it may prove an annoyance by lighting up your face or reflecting off your glasses. The best way to counteract this is to use the “Invert Colors” functionality which changes white to black and black to white. To use this, go to Settings, tap “General,” then “Accessibility,” and switch on “Invert Colors.” Even better, go to Settings, tap “General,” then “Accessibility” and “Accessibility Shortcut.” There you will see the option to set a triple-click of the home button to invert the colours. Now, right before you preach, simply triple-click and you will have a reversed screen.
6. Turn Off Notifications
When it comes to preaching, the iPad’s greatest weakness may be its multi-functionality. Your stack of paper was never going to ring or beep or buzz, but your iPad may. Be sure to turn off notifications so you will remain undistracted while you preach. The simplest way to do this is to set the iPad to airplane mode. iOS 7 has made this simple: You can swipe up from the bottom of the screen and push the “airplane” icon; this will turn off all wireless functions. At the same time, click the “mute” button and turn the volume all the way down.
7. Turn Off Auto-Lock
Auto-lock is the background timer that counts down from the last time you touched the screen. When time runs out, it turns off the screen and locks it with a password. This is a good security feature, but a difficult distraction when you reach down to swipe to your next page of notes and find yourself having to enter your password. Turn off auto-lock before you begin.
8. Lock the Orientation
If you are preaching from a pulpit with a high angle, this may not matter. However, if your pulpit has a flat or low angle, you will want to lock the orientation so it doesn’t switch from portrait to landscape (or vice versa). You can use the switch on the side to do this.
Steps 5, 6, 7 and 8 may seem like they combine to make a lot of work, but all together they will take just about 10 seconds and can be done just before you walk to the pulpit.
9. Make Last-Minute Notifications
GoodReader allows you to make annotations directly onto yourPDF manuscript. This is very helpful when you think of a last-minute application or when you realize you need to make an announcement at the very beginning or end of your sermon. Simply click on the screen and you can type, draw, add arrows or whatever else will prove helpful. I often write little notes to myself like, “Slow down!” or circle things I may otherwise forget.
10. Read from Your Bible
The iPad has many excellent Bible apps, but I believe it is far better to take your printed, leather-bound Bible to the pulpit with you. There is value in demonstrating that you are drawing your message and your authority from God’s Word. This is demonstrated for all to see when you hold up a Bible, but lost when you read from the iPad.
There are some subjects in the Christian world we probably talk about too much and some we may talk about too little. Over time, I think we swing back and forth, often overcorrecting. In my experience money has been one of those subjects we sometimes over-emphasize and at other times almost forget altogether.
I have benefited tremendously from frank, Bible-based discussions on how Christians are to use their money. I have modeled my use of money after people who spoke to me, or who wrote candidly, about their own use of money. As far as I can discern they did not do this in order to boast, but in order to lead and disciple. Their practical counsel has shaped my understanding of the right use of money at least as much as any sermons I’ve heard.
Someone once drew my attention to four questions to ask when I am about to make a purchase—any purchase. Looking back, I can see how much better I am at managing money when I keep questions like these in mind (which, I believe, were first posed by John Wesley).
1. In spending this money, am I acting as if I own it, or am I acting as the Lord’s trustee? I need to have a constant awareness that “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). God owns everything in this world, and that includes both me and my money. I am not the owner of my money, but a mere steward or trustee. I am given money so I can use it on God’s behalf. When I face my next purchase, I need to ask myself whether I am acting as if I own my money, or whether I am aware that this is God’s money. This question alone may make all the difference between a good purchase and a foolish one.
2. What Scripture passage requires me to spend this money in this way? The Bible gives guidance on the way I am to use my money and I need to keep a careful watch on myself to ensure I am using it that way. Money is to be used to support myself and my family, to support local church ministry, to bring relief to the poor, and many other noble ends. I tend to look for the cracks and the wiggle room that will give me license to use my money in any way I want. I believe we are permitted to spend a portion of our money on gifts and rest and enjoying the good things of this world, so this question does not remove all fun in life! But this question does ensure I am using my money in a balanced and biblical way.
3. Can I offer up this purchase as a sacrifice to the Lord? This is a question of stewardship and heart allegiances. If I am a trustee or steward of God’s money, I am able to hold loosely to my money and the things it purchases for me. I need to be able to make a purchase and say to the Lord, “I did it for you. It’s all yours to use as you will.” I have to be willing not to have this thing, or be willing to have it taken away, if that serves the Lord. I think I struggle with this one most when I am at the Apple store!
4. Will God reward me for this expenditure at the resurrection of the just? When I stand before the Lord, will he say, “Well done good and faithful servant” about this particular purchase? Will this be a purchase that is rewarded, or a purchase that will prove still another sin that Christ has had to settle on my behalf? I do well to consider whether this is a noble purchase, a proper use of God’s money, or whether I am pursuing only selfish ends.