Using Bible software is now a key ministry skill. And if you are training the next generation of pastors, missionaries, and Bible teachers, your students need you to teach them that skill whether they know it or not.
Ask yourself, dear prof, do you want your students to be using irresponsible or out-of-date books for their sermon preparation? Do you want them to have powerful and useful exegetical tools (and know how to use them), or do you want them stuck with whatever’s free online? If they’re into digital books at all, presumably you want them to have good digital books rather than worthless ones—and you want those books to live inside software made for biblical studies rather than something like Kindle, which is a thousand miles wide (phenomenal book selection) and two inches deep (itty bitty analysis tools, and none specific to biblical studies).
Your students are paying you to guide them. Guide them well. Get them started on a path they’ll be thankful for whether they enter ministry or the academy or both.
1. Recommend the platform with the best resources
I recommend Logos because it has the best resources for ministry and academic biblical studies. And getting your students started is easy—and now free—with Logos 7 Academic Basic. It’s a free version of Logos built just for the seminary students and professors.
Logos doesn’t have quite the book selection Amazon does, but according to a recent study by the Association of Theological Schools, a complete collection of Danielle Steele novels is not generally considered an important ministry resource. Logos has the books your students will actually need for their own Bible study and teaching into the future, particularly the reference works such as lexicons, commentaries, and dictionaries. And it has the tools to make those books useful and accessible for anything ministry or the academy throws at them.
2. Help your students save with a package deal
The best way to serve your students is to help work out an academic deal with Logos for the whole school. You can customize the books they get, and they get a massive discount over buying their textbooks individually.
And consider this: the only way to integrate Bible software into the curriculum is to have every faculty member and student using the same platform. And when your institution makes an enterprise deal, the entire faculty gets Logos for free.
When your entire class has Logos—and the same resources within Logos—there are some pretty cool things you can do. Set up your own reading list with excerpts to work through. Link them directly from your online syllabus to a given entry in a theological dictionary. Use Logos for take-home tests and in-class quizzes. You can even send them direct links to searches you’ve run, so you can be sure they’re seeing the very same thing on their screens. But this only works if everyone has the tool.
3. Start small—and free
I’ve helped several school administrations standardize their Bible software training. I understand that it takes a while to turn a big ship such as a seminary curriculum.
So start small with a step that requires no budget item: get one or more of your own classes on Logos Academic Basic. It’s free, so administrators will not complain. It contains some of the most important basic texts and tools of biblical studies, and it gets students used to a platform that won’t frustrate them when they’re more advanced, a platform that can grow with them.
And if you personally haven’t tried Logos, Academic Basic is the best way to get some experience with it yourself. Free things are typically affordable on even a professor’s salary, and it comes with tools you’ll find yourself turning to right away.
Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a Logos Pro. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible (forthcoming, Lexham Press).