Top 10 Productivity Tools for Youth Pastors
Apps, websites, software, and kitchen implements to help you conquer your ‘to-do’ list.
“Must be nice to work only one day a week, eh Youth Pastor?”
This old chestnut may get a chuckle from parishioners, but if you lead a youth group, it’ll elicit a weak smile at best. You know the truth: youth pastors are busy all week.
It’s not just the amount of work; it’s the diversity of tasks you’re required to do. A youth minister is a speaker, scholar, counselor, event planner, community leader, business manager, and conflict resolution specialist—all rolled into one.
Eugene Peterson has wisely warned against enshrining busyness as a ministry virtue. And, as Dallas Willard said, we must “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from our lives. Yet even after all the delegating and streamlining and boundary setting and ruthless eliminating, leading a church is still a big job. There’s just a lot to do. The tools below won’t make your ministry a breeze, but they should make it a little easier for you to breathe.
1. Evernote You’re listening to the radio and hear the perfect sermon illustration. You’re browsing the web and stumble upon an article you want to share with your staff. While watching your daughter’s soccer game, a quote pops into your mind. Each of these incidents illustrate why you need Evernote. It enables you to record and categorize content you come across or dream up. Quite simply the best note-taking app out there.
2. A Whiteboard No, I’m not talking about some new, cool app ironically named “Whiteboard.” I’m talking about a literal, whiteboard. The kind with a stand and dry-erase makers. But don’t let the low-tech fool you. A whiteboard is still one of the best weapons in your arsenal. Whether you use it to outline a sermon, work through an idea, or explain one to others, few tools are handier. Plus, when someone walks into your office and sees a whiteboard covered in diagrams and big words, it makes you look smart.
3. Sermon Writing Toolkit Avoid the Saturday night sermon scramble. Or—heaven forbid—the super early Sunday morning one. This tool breaks down sermon prep into discrete steps (“Choose Passage/Text … Formulate the Big Idea … Write Illustrations”) and spreads them evenly over the seven days of the week. You have to give Ministry Pass your email to get it and then suffer through some in-product ads, but it’s well worth it. Another tool from Ministry Pass is Sermon Calendar Template, which enables you to do long-term sermon planning. Again you’ll have to submit your email and put up with ads but hey, nothing is completely free. Even online.
4. Slack Recently dubbed the “Email Killer” by Fast Company, this collaborative software allows teams to have real-time conversations in open or private channels or have individuals send direct messages to each other. Slack will reduce the number of meetings you need to have with your staff and likely chop your in-house emails in half. Particularly useful if you have off-site staff members. Slack likes to brag that NASA’s Mars Rover mission uses the software. Imagine how excited they’d be if they knew churches were using it, too.
5. Tomato Timer Yes, this tool is as simple as it sounds: set a tomato timer and work till it dings. But people swear by “The Pomodoro Technique,” a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. It involves breaking down work into 25-minute intervals and resting for short breaks between. And of course you can use a tomato timer (physical or virtual) to mark the intervals. Perfect for study and sermon prep.
6. Captio An iTunes app that lets you email yourself a note with one tap. It’s not near the service Evernote provides, but if you live-and-die by your email, this on-the-go app will ensure you don’t lose that key thought. As one reviewer put it: “Perfect for what it is.”
7. Self Control App Tackle the biggest obstacle to productivity: you. If you’re putting off important work to scan Facebook or play Tetris, this app is for you. It cuts you off from the Internet. Completely. No email, no news, no social media, no birds with anger issues. And not even shutting off your computer or deleting the app will give you access until the timer expires. Extreme measures, sure, but a sure way to help you focus.
8. Planning Center A productivity tool for your whole church. Planning Center includes software to help manage volunteers, giving, membership, small groups, and your worship services. Starter plans are available for free, and then go up in price depending on the size of your congregation. When it comes to church organization, this almost feels like cheating.
9. Trello Billed as “everything you need to organize projects of any size,” Trello is basically a big “board” with several columns or “lists.” You create cards on these lists, representing different projects. As projects move through stages of development, you move them to the next list until they are complete and archived. It’s a powerful and intuitive online management tool. If you work with a team, it will save a lot of running between offices and needless meetings. And we all know that we got into ministry to avoid people, right?
10. Logos Software It has a cult-like devotion among users and the moment you try Logos, you see why. How is this a productivity tool? Because it means no more lugging around heavy commentaries or digging through library stacks (although that’s kind of fun, isn’t it?). Logos allows you to access thousands of Bible-study tools instantly and it’s all searchable. Disney World for Bible Nerds is not cheap and it can be overwhelming at first, but once you get a feel for what it offers, it will revolutionize your teaching and preaching prep.
From: www.christianitytoday.com web site. February 2016.
The above article, “Top 10 Productivity Tools for Youth Pastors” was written by Drew Dyck. The article was excerpted from www.christianitytoday.com.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”