As a Pastor and “semi-technical tech head” I have always believed that we the church need to be at the forefront of technology rather than playing catch up as we’ve done so often in the past.
I mean just think, we live in a time where you can at any given moment turn on a T.V. and find some type of Christian television programming, but few remember the time when even owning a television was considered a breach of Mosaic Commandment number 614. It was absolutely unheard of to allow this type of technology into our homes. Now even in store-front size churches T.V.’s are used to show announcements, bible passages, or even video clips to help drive the message home.
Well, technology is now taking another leap forward with the advent of tablet computers. My personal favorite are iPads, and companies like Olive Tree and others (to be fair) are on the cutting edge of this technology and using it to advance the Kingdom.
I started using Olive Tree in 2002 when the Windows PDA’s came out and even then it was a great experience, but nothing like today. Olive Tree’s latest development, Bible Reader 5 is this Pastor’s dream.
As a semi-technical Pastor, (which just means that I know what I want, but lack the knowledge to create it) I use BR 5 relentlessly for just about every facet of ministry. I have an extensive library of study tools from Dakes, Thompson Chain-Reference, and dictionaries of all sorts. Although this may make me look studious, (unless in my study) it is impossible to study deeply. Fortunately, this is where BR 5 steps in since it allows me to have my study with me at all times. Hence, whether on my iPad or my iPhone, I am always well equipped.
Additionally, I use BR 5 in our weekly Bible Studies. I take bible study literally. As a Pastor I refuse to fall into the trap of using my congregation to practice homiletics. Many churches have bible studies, but never really study the bible. So, instead of preaching to my weekly congregation like on Sunday’s, I allow them to pick a topic and we study it together. This gives me the opportunity to teach them how to research, do word study, check background information, etc. With BR 5, I can actually do this on the fly because most of the resources in my library are here on my iPad. BR 5 makes it’s so easy because I can with a few gestures open my library and select which resource we want to explore. And with the new resource guide it is even easier.
Allow me to expound on this point in greater detail. The resource guide sees a passage I’m looking at, and breaks it down by people, places, geography, or notes, if I have any personal notes discussing similar topics, etc. It also shows me which resources have information on the passage being viewed. The following example will demonstrate the efficiency of this method:
Sometimes Easton’s dictionary will have information on a topic and Nave’s dictionary will not. That’s not a major hassle, but the BR 5 resource guide actually looks into your various dictionaries, bibles, and commentaries for you and shows you which resources has information on that topic.
So if I look up Luke 13:6
“The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree”
The resource guide will search all resources in my library and locate just about all information concerning this passage. And the speed by which it performs this function is amazing.
Another way I use BR 5 is in my Sunday sermons. Olive Tree is to be commended because they listened to their clientele and gave us what we wanted. As a bonus, we also got a whole lot of new stuff we didn’t know we wanted until we got it and now we will never live without it. For instance:
The new note section is awesome for taking notes from a sermon or creating your own. The old way was a cute little pop-up window you could type notes in, but it was difficult to follow because you had to scroll up and down to find where you were and well let’s just say it wasn’t very fun or efficient. It wasn’t really designed in IMO for a serious note taker. Well, after being requested by so many users, Olive Tree has gone above the call of duty. Not only do we have notes in our split screen, which allows for a resource on one side and a full page of notes on the other, but the notes section is intuitive.
“Cool” doesn’t even describe the ability to type a scripture and even abbreviate it and instantly it becomes not only a bookmark (sorta), but actually hyper-links you to the scripture itself. So, if you type Luke 13:6, BR 5 hyper-links me to a functional pop-up of Luke 13:6.
I call it functional because if you have a Strong’s based bible up, you can from within the pop-up get the definition for that particular word. One slight draw back, but certainly not a deal breaker is that currently it pulls up the latest translation you have up. For example; when you type Luke 13:6 NLT and the NKJV was up last, it pulls up Luke 13:6
NKJV. It would be very “cool” and even awesome for BR 5 to actually pull up that translation. I know Olive Tree well enough to know they’re listening and will make that happen.
I’ll give you one last way I use it so as to not to bore you. If I haven’t already. The new user customizable gestures features, makes studying or teaching quick and easy. I can use one finger to double tap my screen and my split screen will toggle forward through the menus. So, let’s say I am looking at my notes, but I want to see what other resources there might be in the resource guide. With a double tap of my index finger (my user defined action) I can jump from my notes to the resource guide and if I use two fingers—double tap it will toggle backwards. There are many ways to make this work for me. By double tapping, I can go between menus instantly. All-in-all, I believe BR 5 is a great tool to communicate the Gospel deeply, effectively and precisely.
All your notes can be uploaded for storage via Evernote with just a click of a button, so your sermons or notes are never lost. And can also be shared with your Smartphone.
If you travel like I do, carrying a Notebook is becoming more and more laborious. But, an iPad or Smartphone, loaded with BR 5 is guaranteed to give you the resources needed to research, study, and prepare a well laid out sermon wherever you are.
Definitely, it is a Pastor’s dream.
Jason D. Jordan
Rick Mansfield (http://thislamp.com) recently sent us a note telling us how he used BibleReader on his iPad to lead the Sunday morning Bible study of his church camping trip. We thought this was a great example of how BibleReader can not only aid in personal Bible study, but also teaching, so we wanted to share his thoughts.
We had 22 adults, 14 children and one dog in attendance. I was wrapping up a study we had been doing in 2 Corinthians. Due to the context [camping], I didn’t want to bother with bringing a Bible and keeping up with notes all weekend, so I prepared everything in advanced using BibleReader. I’ve been using BibleReader quite a lot lately on the iPad, but this was my first experience using it exclusively in a teaching setting. As I prepared the lesson, I was able to add my notes, highlight the verses I wanted to focus on, and add discussion questions. EVERYTHING was accessible in one application. Very awesome! I am very impressed with what I was able to do with BibleReader!
We too think that BibleReader on the iPad is an excellent tool for leading discussion groups, Bible studies, or even for preaching! We hope that you, like Rick Mansfield, will discover the flexibility, power and ease of using Olive Tree BibleReader.
Speaking of Rick, we also want to take the opportunity to tell everyone that Olive Tree CEO, Drew Haninger, will be participating in a discussion panel, “The Impact and Future of Mobile Bible Software,” of which Rick Mansfield is the chair, at the Accordance Users Conference, September 24-25 in Mesquite, Texas. You can click here to find out more information about this conference. And if you are going to be attending, stop by and say “hi” to Drew!
Olive Tree was proud to perform in SBL’s Bible Software Shootout, a friendly competition that pitted Bible software contenders like Logos, Bible Works, Accordance, and SESB against each other, showcasing each software’s ability to perform detailed original language research.
To see Olive Tree’s presentation from SBL’s Bible Software Shootout, click here to read the presentation (.pdf), especially if you use BibleReader’s Greek and Hebrew tools.
Many thanks to everyone who stopped by the Olive Tree booth at ETS and SBL. Engineers Stephen J (@stephenljohnson) and David T (@dtrotzjr) and original language specialists Drayton B and Steven C (@steventcummings) enjoyed meeting you! Meeting our users makes a big difference for us. You can read David T’s blog post about his ETS experience to learn why.
Thanks also to those of you who signed up for the Olive Tree Newsletter and entered the ETS/SBL prize drawings. We’ll announce the winners of our drawing for a free iPod Touch, preloaded with Olive Tree resources, soon!
We are so excited about the level of enthusiasm and interested in Olive Tree’s iPhone BibleReader! We gets lots of excited users asking us when will feature XYZ be in the iPhone BibleReader. I want to explain a little about how our engineering process works and then give you a chance to help us decide what features to include.
Most engineering teams follow an established work process that was established for a 6-36 month time period with milestone deliverables throughout that process. Most of the time the schedulers underestimated the amount of time the project would take and so the engineering team is almost always behind schedule. (As a side note I usually way underestimate the amount of time something would take. Most projects look “easy” until I am faced with the reality of making something that barely works into production level quality.)
At Olive Tree we take a different approach to scheduling. We know what we are currently working on, we know what we will work on next, and we have a list of things to work on after that. The list is only partially prioritized. When it is time to pick the next item to work on we look a number of factors like what people have been requesting, what we feel is important, what we need to publish certain books, etc to decide what to do next. This allows us to be flexible and quickly change our engineering to meet demands, market shifts, and capture opportunities with vendors or publishers.
This does mean that it will difficult for us to say when we will have feature XYZ done since we don’t actually know ourselves. We do know if that feature appears higher on the to do list that means it will get done sooner, but we haven’t actually scheduled that feature for engineering yet.
We had one of these meetings today for picking the next features. There are so many important features to work on we wanted to get more of your feedback to help us decide. We created a survey you can fill out to help us decide what you would like to see us work on next.
Thank you for your support, help, and enthusiasm!
Senior Software Engineer
With the release of a new beta version of our software, we at Olive Tree are always curious to see what kind of user feedback we will have. The latest beta version of the Palm BibleReader was no exception. And with this reader, we were even more expectant, because there are some really neat features that we added this time, as you probably read about in an earlier blog post. Sure enough, the user comments have been coming in, and we wanted to share a couple with you. Here’s what one avid Olive Tree user wrote in to tell us:
Thanks for not leaving out Palm users on all of the wonderful new features that you have just released. The new beta is incredible. The new search options are second-to-none and the secondary toolbar is just AMAZING! I have never seen a company so dedicated to constant improvement of their products. I am so glad that I am a customer of Olivetree. Thank you for being so attentive to the requests of your customers.
Today we also came across an article recently posted on PalmAddicts that gives a good discussion of Bible software for Palm devices, and talks in particular about OliveTree’s BibleReader software, our frequent updates, and some of the new features we’ve just recently added. Here’s a quick look at what this article discusses:
Recently (in about the last 2 years), Olive Tree improved their BibleReader by leaps and bounds! So much so that it is now the most used Bible reading program on my Palm device … I carry 12 different translations of the Bible with me, including a French Bible. It has commentaries, cross reference links, life application notes and a dictionary … Navigation through the Bible and searches are very easy to do. There are a variety of choices for programming your hard keys for certain tasks while using BibleReader. They put a high importance on you being able to customize the program to do whatever you want … The best part about Olive Tree is that their basic reader and a few of the most basic Bibles come absolutely free!
You can read this full article at:
So if you’re a Palm user, why don’t you download our new beta reader and checkout these new features for yourself!