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January 31, 2013

5 Tech Tools to Manage Pastoral Ministry

Apps and software can help maximize time for God's glory

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I'd like to share with you some technological tools I use to help accomplish the responsibilities and demands for my ministry as a pastor. I pray that it will be helpful for you in your stewardship of time.

1. Evernote

Evernote is a life saver, and a basic account is free. Evernote is a cloud based database that can search and sort anything you put into it. It syncs across all your devices and allows you to have quick and easy access to any information or documents you need. It is the 21st century version of a portable filing cabinet that you can carry around with you on your phone.

Evernote helps me bridge the gap between paper and digital. My go-to resource for getting thoughts down is pen and paper. That's why I carry my Moleskine notebook with me everywhere. However, with Evernote you can scan or snap a picture via phone of your documents, and Evernote can search for them later.

Evernote is an incredible tool for a pastor. A lot of my sermon prep and notes start in Evernote. I am able to store my finished sermons on Evernote for easy access later.

As a pastor, I am constantly reading. I do my best to stay in touch with the Christian blogosphere so I can keep informed with trends and discussions. The great thing about Evernote is I can save all those resources into Evernote and tag them for easy searching. For example, if I'm writing a sermon on the Holy Spirit, I can search the phrase "Holy Spirit" and it brings up everything I've ever put into Evernote on the Holy Spirit in seconds. It is a powerful tool, and its only limitation is your own imagination.

2. Calendar and iCloud

With the Apple Calendar application powered by iCloud, I keep my calendars easily in sync no matter what device I have on me. As a pastor, this helps me schedule appointments and look at my calendar right on the spot. It allows me to schedule meetings with other people without having to carry around a personal planner.

A great feature for my marriage is the sharing feature. I am able to share events scheduled with my wife, and she can always see what is going on with my calendar from her iPhone. Also, when either I or she adds something to the calendar, we get an email from the other person with a notification of the change. This helps prevent miscommunication and keeps us on the same page.

3. Reeder

I have mentioned that I like to stay informed of what is happening in the Christian world through blogs. A big way I do that is through a Google Reader account. My Google Reader client of choice is Reeder which has apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It is a slick interface that allows me to stay informed with news and blogs on the go. My favorite feature is the one-click option for saving a blog post into Evernote. This allows me to read and file quickly and easily.

4. Things

Things is an app that I recently re-added to my organizational system. I am a big fan of to-do lists. I used to just write them in my Moleskine notebook. I have always liked Things, but it took them a long time to put out a Cloud Sync solution that fits in with my mobile life. However, with a recent launch of the new and improved Things 2, it has been a huge asset.

Things is more than just a to-do list. It helps you organize projects and responsibilities and get things done. Whenever I think of something I need to do, or if someone asks me to do something, I pull out my iPhone and enter it into Things. It keeps me from forgetting about it.

Pastors have to deal with church members all the time who ask them to do things. A lot of times church members ask pastors these things at the worst possible times, like right before a worship service or while seeing you at a restaurant. As a result, many pastors understandably forget. Things helps me remember. Also, for me, there is nothing more thrilling than seeing a completed to-do list.

5. YNAB

YNAB stands for You Need a Budget. It is a system based off of Dave Ramsey's envelop method for personal finance. This tool has been incredible in helping me maintain my family's finances. This tool has been huge in helping me to be a good steward with the money God has given me, and is perfect for the lives of busy Pastors. If you are looking for a good way to get a biblical handle on your finances, give this a chance. With the companion mobile app, you can enter in transactions and budget them on the go. This helps keep track of every dollar and eases the stress of personal finances.

Some of these tools do cost some money, but good tools aren't cheap. My philosophy is that if it means spending a couple bucks to help me maximize my time for Jesus, it is worth it.

What sort of organization system do you use? What apps or tools do you use to help meet the demands of life? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Justin Deeter is the Student Pastor at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Wilson, NC.

This post first appeared on Justin Deeter's blog JustinDeeter.com.

Church Law & Tax Report covered the legal and tax issues associated with electronic forms of communication, including the tax implications of cell phone use, in a past issue. The article is available as a downloadable resource "Stacking up Electronics in the Church."

Related Tags: church, church management, church office, Google, ministry, pastor, planning, preaching, smart phones

Comments

Thank you very much for this tools. They are very helpful.
Pastor Etienne

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