Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pastors: Why You Need a Kindle (Or at Least the Free App!)

One of the greatest advances in technology that I am apprising myself of in recent months as a pastor is the incredible world of digital publishing. Not only does digital publishing greatly reduce the costs of purchasing books, commentaries, biographies, and out of print works, but I have also begun to be able to put more of my own content into the hands of my church members and believers around the world.

Advantages in  Digital Media
Amazon produces a simple hand-held device called the Kindle that is meant to be used as a document or book reader. There are currently a baker's dozen versions of the Kindle. Most of the more utilitarian versions are around $69 for purchase. The more advanced versions (like the Fire) are closer to an Ipad in function and cost around $200. 

Here are some of the great advantages of this kind of e-reader.

1. Most of the all-time great books are now totally free. If a book has gone into public domain (author's life + 75 years) chances are the book is now completely free. In my world of theology, this is a gold mine. Everything from Calvin's Institutes, to Wesley's Sermons, to Jonathan Edwards, to Luther's writings, to Robert Murray MacCheyne's journals will cost you nothing. You can load up on thousands of pages of material without spending one dollar beyond the Kindle purchase price.

2. The best publishers today are constantly giving away their books free or at greatly reduced prices. If you follow Crossway Books, P&R, or Ligonier Ministries on Twitter for instance, you will get updates on books featured for nearly free. I can't tell you how many times I have seen publishers give away their stuff for free or just a dollar. Of course, John Piper at Desiring God gives away all of his books in PDF form for absolutely no cost. There is simply no reason whatsoever that we should miss out on this age of technology.

3. Publishing is easier than ever. As an author, I have published books "the hard way" (i.e. paper and glue books through traditional publishers) and the "easy way" -- direct to Kindle Edition. In some respects, I prefer the latter, at least for my own congregation. I am able to write a book, put it through an editing process, and have it ready for my people in a much shorter time-frame. For instance, I recently prepared a six-chapter study on Christian missions that I am using for our upcoming trip to El Salvador. My people can download it to their Kindle or other device (see below) easily and study it together while on the trip!

4. Document reader.  If you have a job that requires you to read lots of PDF's or Word documents, you can simply send them to your device via email for free. As a pastor, I do this all the time as I grow weary of reading longer documents on the computer screen. The Kindle screen is easy on the eyes as it has no light source. Instead it uses an incredible process of magnetic ink. You can read for hours without the eyestrain of a lap top or computer screen.

The Kindle App
If you are not able to get a Kindle for the $69 dollar range, don't despair. You can download the Kindle Reader software to your laptop or desktop for free. Again, this puts thousands of volumes right before your eyes for no cost. If you own a tablet, or a smart phone (Iphone or Android) the application is free there as well. You can be reading Moby Dick, Cinderella, Swiss Family Robinson, Jekyll and Hyde or hundreds of other books in 60 seconds.

Matthew Everhard is the Senior Pastor of Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church.


  1. Thanks to Mission St. Clare, I now use my kindle as a prayer book. It's been an invaluable resource!!


  2. Good post... Very relevant. I use a Kindle app on my iPad and my iBook app almost 50/50. The Kindle app has more available, the iBooks app has richer content on some of the books. I will be working on iBook author to put out some works for Time for Truth ministries within the next few months.