This morning a Pastor from a church a few hours away came up to see me to talk youth ministry. He was starting a ministry for teens at his small country church and had been to one of our services. I was kind of surprised to have someone in my office for ideas. I feel like I’m learning everyday myself. I was, however, even more surprized when he began to fill his notebook pages with the ideas I was sharing. “This is cool.” “Ooooo, that sounds great.” he kept saying. I guess you don’t do this for the eight years or so I’ve been involved in youth ministry without discovering a few cool ideas or resources. After he left I thought a bit more about our conversation and thought maybe I should share with any other youth ministers what my top five resources are. Here is the countdown, in order from least used (which is still a lot) to most used.
5. Social Media – Communication is crucial to running a successful ministry. I use Facebook, Twitter AND YouTube to convey my message. Our ministry has a website and I use social media to direct them to that too. We make events on Facebook and invite all the students and parents. No, we don’t want those pesky parents all coming to our event and messing up our fun. We use the invite as an opportunity for them to stay informed as to what’s happening in preparation for those events. Our twitter feed points back to our Facebook but is important because many teens are making the jump from Facebook Creepin’ to Twitter Following.
4. BibleGateway.com – Yes, this is probably a no brainer for most of you but I. USE. THIS. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY! I don’t really open my bible up for studying that often anymore. I search keywords, read in context, open up to whole chapters, then copy and paste into my sermon notes. It’s really quite convienient.
3. The Google Suite of Services – Our church uses gmail to host our email accounts so that’s obvious for me but I also use Google Docs for all of my sermon notes. This allows me to access and edit my notes from anywhere so when that amazing illustration hits me while I’m on the toilet playing Angry Birds (TMI?) I can just switch over to Docs really fast and jot it down. Google Calendar is my lifeline. It makes my life easier and makes my wife happy at the same time. I don’t miss appointments like I once did. Google Calendar syncs with my phone so again, anywhere (including toilet) access. Google Services is a life saver. USE. THE. CLOUD.
2. Spotify – Yes, I pay $10 a month for commercial free, unlimited access to almost any music in the world. I do this for personal use but I find myself constantly going back to it for background music, a prayer soundtrack, or just a jammin’ song for games during youth events. You can look up music by title, artist, or album and listen to it right on the spot, save it in playlists for future access and you can even get it for your iPhone or Android. It works very well with little to no signal/streaming interruptions. This one is super helpful, plus it’s fairly new so your students will think you’re into the newest, most hip and happenin’ technology. BONUS!
1. Simply Youth Tools – O.M.Goodness (as my awesome grandma would say) SYMTools has been a huge time and effort saver for me. First of all I use it to store and access all of my contacts for students, leaders and parents. Secondly I use their text messaging service to aid me in that all important communication effort. Then, they have an incredible Leaders Tool that helps my leaders apply, get background checks, interview, and view over 35 training videos produced by Simply Youth Ministries. (You can upload your own but I haven’t found a need to.) It costs a bit of money and each service adds a bit to the cost but it has been so worth it for me to have the time and energy saved by these services.
So there is my top five in order of importance or use. I recommend finding some tools and resources that can help you save time and energy in your ministry. Your students will be glad you did, your pastor will be glad you did, your spouse will be glad you did, and oh ya, you’ll be glad too!
What resources did I miss that you couldn’t live without?
Author: Michael Prince
Michael Prince co-authored “What’s in Your Pocket? A parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” with his wife Melinda. They have four kids and live in an RV anywhere in the USA they see the need for an internet safety expert. Michael is leading the conversation in the American Church about family online security. He and Melinda founded BecauseFamily, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip parents to be the first influence in the lives of their children, in 2013. Michael is also a geek and loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and strategy board games.