by Jon Greenhill
When I sat down to write an article about tools that can be used in youth ministry, I thought that it would be a relatively easy task. But then I realized that there are roughly 4,000 different directions I could go with this. Online tools? Tools with apps? Uses for duct tape in ministry? I could also separate them into categories. Administration? Relationship building? Resources? I’ve decided to go the route of Web tools that have accompanying mobile apps. With each tool you’ll find the Web site, along with the platforms that have apps.
1. Expensify—(Expensify.com/ iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows) If there is a weakness in ministry for me it’s the administrative work, particularly expense reports. Which student did I get coffee with? Why did I buy so much duct tape? Which part of my budget was that supposed to come out of? Expensify gives you a place to quickly record details about each of the transactions that you charge to your budget. They have a free app for every mobile device which means you can upload the details of your transaction immediately. You can even snap a picture of your receipt and upload it to the Web. I believe this site might just be a gift straight from God. I use the free level but you can upgrade for additional features.
2. Evernote—(Evernote.com/ iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows) Evernote pretty much does everything. It’s essentially a way to organize thoughts, ideas, pictures, etc. I’ve used it to take meeting notes, log mileage, save pictures, brainstorm ideas, and save things that I’ve found on the Web. The cool part about Evernote is that they actually partner with other programs and apps to create more possibilities. The free level of Evernote also has limitations including upload limits, but if you hit that limit you can purchase the premium level for about $45/year.
3. Toodledo—(toodledo.com/ iOS, Android, Blackberry) A good to-do list is crucial in making sure everything gets done. Toodledo offers tons of options to be sure that you don’t forget anything. You can set priorities, tags, folders, due dates and more. I’ve set up folders for each section of my ministry. This helps me see where I’m focusing my time during the week. I also may or may not add things to the list after I’ve done them just so I can check it off.
4. Box.net—(box.net/ iOS, Android, Blackberry) Box.net is an online file storage system that’s very similar to Dropbox. If you aren’t familiar with this type of storage, you can use Box.net to upload files that can be accessed from anywhere. This has been great for me for when I need to use my tablet to review curriculum, read my talk during youth group, or have my wife correct all of the grammar mistakes I make in my writings. I just upload a file from my work computer and then I can access it on my phone, my tablet, or another computer. The free version of Box comes with 5 gb of memory which will suffice for most youth pastors.
5. Google Apps—(apps.google.com) It seems that Google is taking over the world these days. If they are, they are making life easier for a lot of people. Google Apps is Google’s complete set of online tools: Gmail, Docs (which includes spreadsheets and presentations), Calendar, and more. On top of that, it’s all free. You don’t ever have to delete emails and a simple search will quickly result in a list of old emails. Collaborate instantly and simultaneously with other people on “Docs,” and create interactive calendars that sync with nearly every smartphone on the market. There’s even a rumor that they’re getting storage similar to Box.net. Since there’s “Google Apps for nonprofit,” it’s well worth looking into for your church!
Jon Greenhill is a youth pastor, a husband of one, and a father of two (it works best that way). He has a passion for people to see God in everyday situations. He would also like you to know that he’s a Duke fan. Jon is a volunteer at CalledToYouthMinistry.com and he has a passion for training and leading youth pastors.