Blogs played an important role in the early days of the social internet. But do blogs still matter now? Here’s why I think they do.
For the better part of the last 10 years, Logos Bible Software has been an indispensable tool in my ministry toolkit. Whether I’m writing or editing blog posts, Bible studies, books, videos, or preparing a sermon, my Logos library makes it easy to, among other things:
- Read passages in multiple translations
- Compare insights from across theological traditions thanks to a pretty rockin’ library
- Explore the meaning of key words and phrases in-depth
That’s on top of being able to create reading plans, community updates, prayer reminders, and a whole lot more. In other words, I’m a big fan of this resource. With the arrival of Logos 9, that doesn’t look to change anytime soon.
What I like about Logos 9 as a user
Previous releases of Logos took giant leaps forward in terms of usability. Prior to Logos 7 and 8, as much as I enjoyed using my library, it was not super-intuitive. However, these more recent editions made this aspect a priority and Logos 9 continues that trend.
The dashboard continues to be very clean and is fully customizable, allowing you to add cards based on your reading plans, prayer lists, and other workflows. Oh, and for those who love dark mode on their Macs (like me with my middle-aged man eyes), Logos does actually have dark mode now too!
What I like about Logos 9 as a writer and editor
Vocationally, I’m a writer, Bible study editor, and content marketer. In all of these roles, I need tools I can rely on to help me as I seek to communicate the meaning and message of Scripture effectively. One of the elements I really love for this is the Theology Guide. Like many features, this is not a new one, but it is a helpful one.
Let’s think about an easy to understand doctrine like the Trinity, for example. (Nothing like discussing the nature of God as three-in-one to give you heart palpitations.) The Theology Guide provides a basic summary of the doctrine, a list of theologically related passages in Scripture, along with links to recommended reading from your library, both complete works and excerpts and articles from larger theological works.
What’s most helpful about this is not just that you get to nerd out a bit, but if you’re looking for a larger collection of works to dig deeper you’ve got them all in one spot. This saves a great deal of time that can be better put to use doing what really matters—crafting your content.
Another element that I enjoy just from a sheer nerdy-ness standpoint is the charts tools. I love being able to visually see how often specific words appear throughout Scripture. This might seem like a little thing, and I would always advise caution in doing word studies without considering context, but charting words like this can help us pick up on themes within specific books, and with specific authors.
What I like about Logos 9 as a community group leader
Finally, there’s the matter of person-to-person ministry. It might seem strange to be talking about a software package in this context, but hear me out:
I recently took on the role of leading my community group. (More on that another time.) One of the most important things I need to be doing for my group is praying for them. Lots of people have different approaches to how they keep prayer for individuals top of mind—some are incredibly disciplined and do it without ever failing, others set up calendar reminders daily, others still do things I haven’t thought of.
A feature in Logos that I love is the ability to create prayer lists in your documents (this is not a new feature, but one that I haven’t taken full advantage of in the past). You can set up reminders to pray for specific needs daily, or on any cadence you find makes the most sense. Most importantly, it gives you the ability to track answers to prayer by incorporating those into the notes section.
So why am I calling out this feature that isn’t terribly new? Because it’s a little thing included to remind users that Logos is a tool for ministry—to help others grow in Christ, even as we seek to do so ourselves. Making disciples and creating gospel culture is what we’re about, and we need our tools to be an aide to that end as well.
A Great Tool for Disciple Makers
Whether you’re a pastor, a writer, editor, community group leader, or a serious student of the Bible, you will be well served by Logos Bible Software. It’s a powerful and intuitive tool that helps you do what matters most: make disciples. I would definitely encourage taking a look at the options available and seeing what package might be best for you and your ministry needs.
This post includes affiliate links, meaning I will receive a small percentage of any purchase made via these links.
I am grateful for the embarrassment of riches I have available to me when it comes to Bible study tools. These are resources I rely on whenever I write Bible studies, sermons, blog posts, and books. Simply put, if I didn’t have these tools, I couldn’t do my job (or fulfill my ministry) nearly as effectively.
But what I don’t have is a lot of physical resources. As an apartment dweller, I have very limited space, so a large personal library isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Instead, I have very robust library of study tools thanks to a couple of software packages, one of which is Logos Bible Software. I’ve been a regular user of Logos since 2011, and have experienced (and reviewed) a number of updates along the way. Logos 6 was a strong update from Logos 5 (the first version I used), especially with the addition of the Ancient Literature and Factbook functions. Logos 7‘s addition of new features like the New Testament use of the Old Testament, a cleaner dashboard layout, and the Sermon Editor tool made it a winner for me.
And now, Logos 8 is here!
What’s new in Logos 8?
The new version of Logos is packed with new and improved features, among them:
- An updated notes tool to help you stay organized and find pretty much anything you’ve ever highlighted or made a comment about.
- An all-new theology guide with brief summaries of some of the essential truths of the Christian faith accessible right from the passage you’re studying.
- New built-in customizable workflows for different kinds of study, including personal study, devotional reading, word study, and sermon prep.
What do I like about it?
I’ve been working on two Bible studies for The Gospel Project, and that gave me a great opportunity to give the new version a test-drive. So here are a few thoughts.
It’s faster. Like, way faster. An issue with every edition of Logos is speed. Previous versions of the application took a looooooong time to load, and an even longer time to actually start digging into the material. One thing I doubt any user will be able to say is that Logos 8 is slow.[1. And if they do, it may be because their computer too outdated to work properly.]
I’m running the software on a Macbook Air, which is not exactly a powerhouse machine, and the entire start up sequence took, maybe 30 seconds between clicking the app icon and being able to start searching, reading, and researching. Resources themselves open almost instantly, as do all of the study tools like info cards about different words in the Canvas tool (but more on that in a minute), and even the text comparison tool (which you can easily customize with your text of choice).
The Canvas tool is the bee’s knees. This is a tool I’ve not spent enough time in yet, but already I love it. This tool allows you to highlight, underline, make connections and even (functionally) diagram your passage to help you explore the big ideas within it.
Because Obadiah is a book of judgment and hope, it was helpful to me to visually connect the dots in verses 15 and 18, where Edom was told that they would reap what they had sown, and be destroyed. While it’s not a cheery subject, what it helps illustrate is the consequence of sin. It always has a cost, and never goes unpunished.
It is very user-friendly. One of my critiques of past editions of Logos has been its struggle with user-friendliness. Once you figured out where everything was, a user could make Logos work, but it wasn’t terribly intuitive. Thankfully, I don’t have to continue harping on that as Logos 8 arguably offers the best user experience of any version to date. The placement of tools makes sense. The icon sets used throughout communicate well. I didn’t even have to use any of the tutorial videos
It just works
With greater speed, excellent new tools, and a much more user-friendly interface, Logos 8 is hands down the best version of this software suite yet. It just works, which is what you need with your Bible study tools, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to existing users considering an upgrade and those considering it for the first time.
If you go to conferences for pastors, the chances are pretty good you know about Logos Bible Software. Even if you don’t, the chances are actually still pretty good. For the better part of the last decade they’ve been working to carve out an identity for themselves as the premier Bible study tool. The must-have resource for pastors, authors, and students.
And they’ve done a pretty good job with that, I think.
I’ve been using Logos for several years and through several iterations. With a vast library and more tools than I know what to do with, it’s more than met my needs. Now, Logos 7 is here. Even better, the fine people at Faithlife (makers of the software) have given me an opportunity to try out the latest edition, which I’ve been doing for a few days now (though in all honesty, probably not as much as I would have preferred).
After a bit of time in the program, what do I think? Let’s talk about Logos 7 from four perspectives:
- What’s familiar;
- What’s new;
- What’s not so hot; and
- What’s my favorite new feature.
What’s familiar in Logos 7?
Users of Logos 7 will notice that there are a few minor (but welcome) design updates. The homepage has a few minor tweaks, notably thinning out the rules between blocks, and continuing to embrace “flat” design. The same can be said of the tool panels themselves. It’s all very minor. Given that the primary function of these is to, well, function, so I’m not terribly surprised.
Similarly, if you had any doubt, this is a program that is best enjoyed on a large monitor. You want your workspace to breathe, and if you’re working on an itty-bitty monitor like me 90 percent of the time, you’re going to find it a bit cramped.
And, as in past editions, your base package really does make a difference. If you’re just doing some basic to intermediate level study, you’re probably fine not going beyond Bronze or Silver if your budget can handle it. But if you’re a pastor, an academic or author, you’re going to want to go as far as your budget will allow. Platinum or Diamond is a good place to shoot for if you can swing it, in my opinion. You get the advance or optimal level data sets and tools, which means you’re going to be able to plumb the depths of the passages you’re studying with greater efficiency.
But all of this should be familiar about Logos. It’s what you’ve come to expect. But in the new version, there is some pretty cool stuff worth considering.
Logos 7 definitely builds upon the improvements brought in version six, while also adding in a number of great new features. Brand new to this edition, you’ll find no less than eight new tools:
- The Sermon Editor
- The Concordance Tool
- The Courses Tool
- New Testament Use of the Old Testament
- Updated and improved Systematic Theologies
- Biblical Theology tools
- Confessional Document
- Lexicon linking
I don’t have the space to go into all of these tools because I doubt you’d read it, but one that I really enjoy is the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. This is important to be because the Old Testament is often neglected by many Christians, but also because it was the Bible of Jesus during his earthly life and ministry, and of the Apostles. And one of the coolest things to see is how steeped so many books are in Old Testament books (as well as the deuterocanonical books).
Imagine the insights you might gain from a book like, say, Revelation, when you better grasp the texts he was recalling. After all, in this book alone, we find 40 echoes, allusions or direct quotes of the Old Testament and apocrypha, the majority of which come from Sirach and the Psalms. What does it change? Honestly, right now not a lot. I’ve not been able to really dig into it much beyond seeing the connections. But the fact that connections do exist helps greatly. It gives me confidence, at any rate, that it’s possible to make sense of the apocalyptic language of this book—to get past the silliness that sometimes comes up and see the book afresh for what it is.
What’s my (potential) favorite feature?
By far my (potential) favorite new feature in Logos 7 is the Sermon Editor tool. In the past, I would do all my work in Logos, finding what I need and copying quotes and other bits of information into my Word Doc.[1. Properly attributed, of course.] Now, I can actually build my entire sermon right in Logos as I go—including slides, handouts, and small group questions.
I can only imagine how much time this new tool might save pastors and lay preachers as they prepare their messages. Testing it out with a sermon I prepared about a year ago, I found it quite easy to use as far as the formatting and slide development tools were concerned. When I’ve preached, I’ve avoided making slides because it takes me so long. So this definitely makes life a lot easier. And you can edit the slides themselves, changing backgrounds, styles and anything else you need to.
What’s not so hot?
Since the first time I opened a copy of Logos, I’ve found the user interface to be less than intuitive. I have to do a lot of hunting around to find what I’m looking for. I mentioned this in my assessment of the previous version, and it hasn’t changed with this one. It’s not enough to make me not want to use the software, mind you. But I long for the day when I can find everything I need within one or two clicks. Perhaps I’ll see something new on this front in version 8?
So what do I really think?
So that’s a super-quick look at Logos 7. Do I like it? Despite my minor complaint above, very much. Longtime Logos users will definitely appreciate the improvements the Faithlife team has made in this edition. New users won’t be put off by the bit of additional work they’ve got to do learning the system, and Faithlife does make training videos available to help you get used to the system. Regardless, if you’re serious about your Bible study, I’d strongly consider purchasing the latest edition of Logos in whatever base package makes sense for your needs. It won’t take away the work you need to do, but it will make it go a lot smoother.
The first time I went to a Christian conference, I was introduced to Logos Bible Software. Okay, actually that’s not technically true: the first time I learned about it was on a now defunct podcast in which a pastor gushed over how wicked awesome it was. The first time I saw it in action, though, was during a break at the first big Christian conference I attended.
What I loved about it right away was how easy it made Bible study. With a quick search, I could suddenly access all kinds of information about any particular passage, from commentary notes, cultural context for the book, meaning of the original languages… I could even see which books in my library had a connection to the passage I was looking up!
But there was one little—okay kind of big—problem: I couldn’t afford it (at least not right away). The price of Logos has been a deterrent for many people I know. They’ve seen what it can do, and they know it’s worth it, but with limited personal and ministry budgets, it’s been hard for them to find the funds to make the purchase.
Then, Faithlife (the makers of Logos) went and did something brilliant: made it accessible to everyone with Logos Cloud, their new subscription-based tool:
A few weeks ago, the fine folks at Faithlife got in touch asking if I’d like to take Logos Cloud for a test drive and share my thoughts with y’all. Since my system updated, I’ve been playing around and checking out the tools. Here are a few quick thoughts:
The resources. With Logos Cloud, you have a comprehensive library of Christian living titles, Bible dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, and more in an easy-to-search digital format, allowing you to find exactly what you need incredibly quickly. And every month, new resources are added to your library, so you’ve always got what you need to study and write well.
I upgraded from a Logos 6 base package (one of the mid-range ones) with a Reformed Silver add-on, to the premium subscription of Logos Cloud. When I first opened the software, I was greeted to the news that a little more than 1500 resources were being added to my library. That was a significant upgrade for me, as it allows me access to a greater depth of knowledge, particularly surrounding the biblical languages. But what thrilled me was finding Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David in my library for the first time. That alone is worth the upgrade, as they’re widely considered to be his finest literary achievement. I was also surprised to see Barth’s Church Dogmatics, as well as the 23-volume Practical Works of Richard Baxter.
Interactive tools. One of the really cool things I’ve enjoyed playing with has been the interactive resources, such as the “before and after” site visualizer. What this tool allows you to do is actually pretty cool, showing you a biblical site as it exists today (and includes some interesting reading about the area), and allowing you to slide a representation of what it might have looked like during the biblical era.
Another great tool is one that’s existed for a while but been given an update in Logos Cloud: the timeline tool. What this allows you to do is examine any era and find the connections to the period at which a section of the Scriptures was written, discover the world views at play during particular eras, and more. Here’s a pretty cool video with more details on that:
More user-friendly. One of the things I’m most excited about with Logos Cloud is they’re working to make this version the most user-friendly version of the program, ever.Because everything is cloud-based, you can jump from your phone to your desktop to your tablet and back again, and never miss a beat. The interface is (gradually) improving, in that it’s slowly becoming more intuitive. The actual resource panels still need some work, but I imagine that when they switch to the full-on web-based platform (as mentioned in the introductory video), those will be given a major overhaul. One of the greatest helps is the training center on the Logos Cloud website. There, you’ll find tons of videos showing you how to use the tools that are available—including ones you might never touch unless you had some advice on how to use them!
No more complaining about the cost. Honestly, the biggest deal about Logos Cloud is the cost. With subscriptions starting at as little as $7.50 a month, virtually anyone interested in taking their Bible study to the next level can have access to this software. While not everyone can afford a premium subscription (or a professional one, for that matter), even the essentials plan would be a great addition to a student or writer’s resource kit.
Logos Cloud is simply the best update to Faithlife’s software line, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it helps me as I move into another season of preaching, studying, and writing. I’m also looking forward to seeing how it helps you in yours. Get started today with a free trial today.
Win a premium subscription to Logos Cloud
Today, I’m pleased to offer you a chance to win a one-year premium subscription to Logos Cloud. To enter, just use the handy-dandy Gleam app at the bottom of this post. The winner will be contacted by a representative from Faithlife, the makers of Logos Bible Software and sponsors of this giveaway.