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New Technology Meets Old Beliefs


Roy Ice, young adults pastor at Loma Linda University Church, has developed a new baptismal study guide, Enter the Deep, available through the Apple Store. Ice, with a theology degree from Southwestern Adventist University and a postgraduate from the Seminary at Andrews, has pastored in Texas, and at five different posts in California. He has been in Loma Linda for the past year-and-a-half. 

Question: Roy, you developed the software for an interactive study guide that people access through an iPad or Mac. What makes this new study guide so much richer than previous, paper incarnations? Does it cover the same material?

Answer: This book was written the way that today’s digital natives process information — with a heavy dose of interactivity. 

Each of the six sessions contain professional intro videos filmed at compelling locations. One was even shot at a gold refinery. 

This book also contains interactive graphics and galleries, Scripture pop-up windows, self-scoring quizzes, the ability to enter your own notes, highlight and unhighlight text, and connect to a video projector or TV. 

But one of the best features is that, as I update future versions of the book, everyone who has ever purchased a copy will always have the most current, updated edition. You can’t do all that with paper. 

Additionally, with all of the multimedia support within the book, anyone — not just pastors — can use this tool to help lead their friends, family, and coworkers through the steps to prepare for baptism.

The material that is covered in this baptismal study guide includes what I feel are the six most important things you need to know to make a lifelong commitment to Christ through baptism:

  1. What is baptism?
  2. What is conversion?
  3. How to have a relationship with God
  4. Understanding the enemy’s tactics
  5. How to become Christlike
  6. Understanding the importance and role of church

This is not an Adventist beliefs study guide. That will be an upcoming iBook in the future!

Question: Is this the first interactive baptismal study guide that you know of? What gave you the idea to create it? Why did you feel this new kind of guide was important?

Answer: Yes. This is a first of its kind, unless Uncle Google is holding out on me and not telling about another one. 

I got the idea a couple of years ago when I first saw Apple’s announcement regarding the iBook Author app. After researching its capabilities a little bit, I knew that we as a church needed to be the first to incorporate this new, accessible technology into our evangelistic efforts. I couldn’t shake the idea of creating interactive, multitouch experiences and actually wrestled with what material would be the best introduction to break out into this arena. 

About a year ago, when I was teaching several baptismal classes to young adults it hit me — this would be the best material to start with. First of all, our denomination’s baptismal guides are currently geared for middle school, high school, and adults, but for about a decade I have been using study materials that I had developed specifically for young adults. This new technology gave me the ability to create the materials in the way that people today are processing information: interactively.

Question: Who is your target audience? Are you promoting the guide outside North America?

Answer: The target audience is for 18 to 35-year-olds, but it also has a broad appeal outside that range. We are promoting this worldwide in 51 countries through the Apple iBook Store. It has only been available for a couple of weeks, but already we have had some surprise sales in Europe and Australia, along with the bulk of our sales in North America.

Question: You say that people can download the study guide through iBooks. How much does it cost? What do I have to do to get Enter the Deep?

Answer: It’s only $9.99. And with Apple’s policies, you can share that across all of your multiple devices and Macs. To find it, all you have to do is open the iBooks app and search for “Enter the Deep” in the search field in the store window.

Question: Is the General Conference on board? Are they helping to promote the product?

Answer: I have not spoken to the GC about this, but I sure hope that they can perceive my open intentions — to utilize every means necessary, especially emerging technologies, to bring more people into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ and the fellowship of our sacred movement.

Question: Have you created any similar, interactive books before? 

Answer: I’ve never done anything like this before. It was all a very scary walk into the dark unknown. Yes, I had some big frustrations and sleepless nights trying to fix things that weren’t working, but in the end, now I can do it again without all the fear. 

Question: How long have you been working on this project? Who else was involved? How much did it cost? Did you have a sponsor?

Answer: I started working on the outline and design framework about a year ago. But the bulk of the work was done between March and August of 2014. 

Aaron Weber, a real rising star in filmmaking, served as my film director. He works for us here at the Loma Linda University Church media department. I couldn’t have done any of the films without him. 

Other than that, surprisingly, I was able to develop everything else. I’m fortunate that I also have a background in graphic design, so I didn’t have to outsource any of that. 

As far as costs go, it was just the cost of my spare time. I worked on this during my day off each week. 

I think all Christians should be innovators, so I just saw this as a part of my continuing ed. I hope this gives other people encouragement that they can do something like this too. You don’t need a venture capitalist. You just need to turn off the TV and give Facebook a timeout. The iBooks Author app is free.

Question: So you didn’t work on this project as part of your job at the Loma Linda University Church? 

Answer: I am extremely blessed to serve at the LLU Church, and have been thoroughly supported in this endeavor. But I did not do this as part of my job. I actually get irritated by pastors who get sidetracked from their duties to work on pet projects. This was something that I was passionate enough about to do during my free time at home.

Question: What kind of feedback have you gotten on the study guides so far?

Answer: The feedback has been really encouraging. My favorite is from one of the iBooks Store reviews. The boost of excitement that a seasoned pastor expressed in his words made me feel like all the time and effort was worth it.

Question: Do you have ideas for more, similar projects? How about an interactive Sabbath School lesson? Or Insight or Guide magazines?

Answer: This month we are launching, which is poised to be the world’s largest resource for Christian young adults desiring to grow spiritually. We will also be releasing three to four new interactive study guides each year on various topics. 

I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but the working term for just one of the new innovations that we (my new associate young adult pastor, Tyler Stewart, and I) are bringing to the small group study guide arena is “small globe” books. In short, what if your small group could actually see how others around the globe were answering the same questions? Right there in that same section of the book. How might that help your group’s perspective? 

Question: Do you think interactive study guides will completely replace the old paper guides?

Answer: I’m not sure about that, but I am pretty sure that once people experience this new way of studying, it will definitely be preferred by most people. 

Question: What do you do in your job for the Loma Linda University Church, and what do you most like about your position as young adults pastor?

Answer: My work as the Young Adult Pastor at the LLU Church is wonderfully intense. We have a weekly contemporary worship service in the main sanctuary called Re:Live that has an average attendance of over 1700 people. We run Friday night programs and midweek bible studies as well for the University students and young professionals in our area. 

Every day is packed with more appointments and meetings than I’ve ever had in my 21 previous years of pastoral service, but I absolutely love it! God is moving in this area, and it’s a blessing to have a front row seat.

Question: What is your educational background?

Answer: My undergraduate and graduate degrees are in theology, and I am self-taught in all things technological. Once again, there is hope for everyone! If I can figure it out, so can you. And yes, tech tutorials are more difficult than my Greek undergrad classes. But God really needs us to do this. We need to be at the forefront with our relentless good news.

See a sneak peak of Enter the Deep on YouTube.

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