Organizing Seminary: Apps for Studying

by on August 5, 2015

It won’t take you long upon your arrival at seminary how much things may have changed from previous generations of seminary educations. One of the biggest differences is just how digital everything is. Most seminaries have some sort of online class management system through which you will track grades, assignments, schedules, and get documents and readings necessary for your classwork. Lectures are on PowerPoints that are often shared online. Likely the very first official seminary swag you’ll get is an email address.

Things have changed, for sure. But luckily, we live in a time of unparalleled resources to help you engage all the more deeply in your seminary education; resources that help you focus on what you need to focus on while letting technology do much of the heavy lifting. Here are the apps each seminarian should at least consider utilizing through the course of their education.

Logos Bible App

Okay, you’re going to seminary. You might want a good Bible app. By far, the prettiest (and most social) Bible app out there is the YouVersion Bible App. And if you want the most free translations available to you (including some translations you can’t get for free anywhere else), you should go with the BibleGateway app. But, the most powerful one by far (even if it is a little confusing when you’re first getting started) is the Logos Bible mobile app. You can do word studies, connect to commentaries, and carry a full library of books with you in a light-weight mobile interface. It’s a little limited without having bought the full desktop Logos Bible Software (which is also worth your investment), but its features are without parallel for mobile.

Logos Greek/Hebrew Flashcards

Similarly, as you go through your language courses, you’re going to want to flashcard app. Yes, it’s genuinely helpful to write out each vocabulary word on flashcards, but if you think you can make do without the extra reinforcement, grab an app. There are tons of apps and sites spread over the various app stores, but most of them are pretty ugly. If you have Logos Bible Software, they have an accompanying flashcard app which is gorgeous, simple, and gets the job done.

Pray-As-You-Go

If you were raised in American Christianity (especially Protestantism), your spiritual life is probably very reading-heavy. Bible reading plans, devotionals, Christian books, etc. form much of the substance of American spirituality. But, you spend so much time reading in seminary. This makes doing more reading just to engage with God feel like a chore. Luckily, Church History has a lot of practices and modes of engaging spiritually that are more than just reading stuff. And for that, I cannot recommend highly enough the podcast/app Pray-As-You-Go. It’s a daily audio devotional. It starts out with meditative sacred music, moving into a Scripture reading, guided prayer, and reading the Scripture again. It definitely nourishes the weary soul burnt out on text.

Radio Station App

Different people need different things to study well. For me and many others, we need music. But if you’re like me, you kind of want to go on autopilot and let a computer pick out your song selection rather than having to figure it out yourself. I also can’t listen to anything too familiar while studying or else I get distracted. I need random, shuffled music that fits a mood or theme. For this, we need a radio app. The go-to Gold Standard in this is Pandora, though Spotify is gaining traction quickly. My personal favorite, though is Google Music. It shocks me so few people know about this. It is the best of Pandora and Spotify rolled into one and made even better. An honorable mention goes to the web service/app Focus@Will. If you’re willing to spend a few bucks a month, they have stations that are scientifically tuned to boost your concentration and focus. But regardless of your favorite, get an app and use it often.

Starbucks

Lastly, you want to get the Starbucks app. Because, let’s face it: you’re in seminary. That means you’re going to drink a lot of coffee. Might as well get some perks through the app while you’re at it, right?

About

Frequenting the coffee shops of Philadelphia while employed in social work and finishing up a Masters of Divinity from the Newbigin House of Studies at Western Theological Seminary. He serves Liberti Church as a deacon and seminary intern. Paul blogs at the long way home and tweets as @PaulBurkhart_.