written by Audrua Malvaez
I have had a cell phone since 2002, when I spent three weeks on the 8th grade cheer team and my parents deemed it a necessary evil. I was so proud of my Nokia brick-of-a-phone that played Snake, had T9 capabilities, and, of course, was For Emergencies Only. Now, my sleek iPhone 6 has over 47 apps, all serving various purposes. Need to find a new restaurant? I have 3 apps for that. Need the latest NHL news? I have 2 apps for that. Naturally, my phone has also become a huge asset to my ministry. In case you aren’t already using them, here are 5 free apps I use every week to make me a better youthworker:
Raise your hand if you struggle to stay focused at the office! I’m looking at you, my fellow ADD/ADHD brothers and sisters in Christ. 30/30 is a time management app complete with a gesture-based interface, vibrant colors, and alarms. I find this app most helpful when I have several different projects to work on in a day and I need to make the most of my time in the office. I set the timer for however long I need to work on each thing, giving myself a 5 minute break every half hour to go check Facebook or respond to texts. It’s a wonderful way to train your brain to make the most of your time.
The most productive to-do list you’ll find, Trello is a visual organizer. Trello’s features are optimized for team management. Being a solo youth worker, I use it most with my student leadership team. Each student has the app downloaded on their device and I have the boards organized by To-Do, Doing, and Done, along with a board for Goals and one for Ideas. Each person has a profile, so I can assign them each a task. For example: I need Suzy to write a devotional for youth group next week. I create a card and assign her to it. I can add direction and Scripture in the notes. She gets a notification on her phone and bam, I can see if she’s working on it and when she has it done based on where she’s moved the card. There’s also a voting and comments feature, which comes in handy with the Goals and Ideas section.
Used on my iPad, iPhone, MacBook, and PC, Evernote is constantly open on my devices. Evernote is a web based word processor, allowing you to access all of your documents anywhere at any time.* I use it to take notes at meetings and conferences interchangeably on my iPhone and iPad, adding pictures of slides, other people’s notes, or any other information as needed. Every time I preach, I type up my sermons and they’re instantly transferred to my iPad. I also use Evernote to do group collaboration. Projecting the browser window and typing out student’s thoughts and ideas helps my visual learners and facilitates productive discussion.
*While the basic package is completely free, to access notebooks offline or to share a notebook for multi-user collaboration, you will need to pay a yearly subscription of either $25 (recommended) or $50.
Music is everywhere, and Spotify gives you access to it all (except Taylor Swift, brb crying). Without paying a dime, you can create and save your own playlists for youth gathering/hang out time, reflective worship, background noise, and road trips. Playlists can also be shared and accessed by anyone who downloads Spotify. Want to help your adults play appropriate music in the car on the way to Fall Retreat? Create a playlist and share! Want to suggest new worship songs for your students to use during their quiet times? Create a playlist! It’s a fast and easy way to discover other Christian artists to use wherever you use music. For $12.99/month, you can pay to access your music offline/without a data connection and ad free, great for summer mission trips and camps.
It’s not just for brides and crafty moms, ladies and gentlemen. Simply create an account, search “youth ministry” and get to pinning! It’s a wonderful resource for games, sermon suggestions, retreat ideas, team builders, prayer stations, educational resources, professional development, altar decor, and so much more. You can even find ways to update and reinvent your youth space, no matter your budget or skill set. Follow other youth workers or national organizations, too! What makes Pinterest even better? You can upload your own resources and link to your favorite websites to share with other youth workers. Collaboration, or creative theft, is what makes youth ministry amazing. No need to reinvent the wheel, just rediscover and repurpose it, together, on Pinterest!
My first phone was For Emergencies Only. Now, my phone prevents emergencies by keeping me on task, organizing and communicating effectively with my leadership team, holding all the thoughts of my brain in one place, putting a soundtrack to my life, and inspiring creativity in my ministry. For free. No need to masquerade as Super Youth Worker when there’s already an app for that!