As a parish pastor I have a lot going on every single day of the week. In order to keep my life and my ministry in order I need help. That’s why I rely on digital tools to stay on top of appointments, meetings and to do lists.
I was able to take my digital tools to a whole new level in 2006 when I got my first smartphone (the Palm Treo 650). It had an astounding 24mb memory and a .3 megapixel camera. I was in heaven. I never felt more productive and I knew this was the wave to the future.
The best part for me was the integration of my phone and my calendar, no longer did I have to carry two devices (a phone and Palm Pilot) around; everything was integrated into one device.
Eventually this lead to the iPhone (I got my first in 2008) as I transitioned out of seminary and I took on my first position as a pastor and I have remained an Apple Fanboy ever since.
Over the years I have tested many, many, many apps. There have been some that I have used almost everyday since I downloaded them and others that I have deleted after only a few days of testing.
I would like to share with you 10 apps that I currently use that have enabled me to succeed in ministry and to stay (somewhat) organized.
Fantastical – This is my calendar app. This is integrated into my Google Calendar. I like this app because of the way it looks on my mobile devices. It keeps me organized and is very quick.
Accordance – What kind of pastor would I be if I did not have a Bible app on my phone? I have used a number of apps over the years (Youversion, Olive Tree, Logos) but this one has been the most helpful. There is a learning curve to the app because it has a lot of features, and it is pretty expensive. However, it helps me translate the texts from the ancient languages and it keeps my notes on the text. It is also cross platform so I have it on my iPhone, iPad and Mac.
Dropbox – I love the cloud. I love to have the reassurance that not only is my work secure in the cloud but I have it synced across all my devices. When I need documents and I don’t have my computer I can pull it up on my phone or iPad with ease. Dropbox is also great for sharing large files that take forever to email. Dropbox will create a link for the file, then anyone you send the link to can instantly download the file.
Goodnotes – In some circles I have become known as the Paperless Pastor. I don’t like having stacks and stacks of paper. When I found Goodnotes it eliminated my reliance on notebooks or scraps of paper at my desk. Instead I have notebooks within Goodnotes on my iPad and I take notes via my Apple Pencil. This way I am able to keep my stuff organized and easily at hand.
Overcast – As a podcaster myself I enjoy listening to other podcasts. Some of my favorite podcasts are Cary Nieuwhof, Working Preacher, Pulpit Fiction, The Cliff Ravenscraft Show, The Kris Pavone Show just to name a few. By listening to these podcasts I am able to grow professionally and personally.
Todoist – To do apps is another area where I have tried many, many apps. Over the years I have tried Remember the Milk, Nozbe, Wunderlist, Things, Apple Reminders, and good old pen and paper. Todoist is the first app that I have used that has been most effective. Second place would be Nozbe. The perfect companion to the digital task keeper is Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planner.
iMessage – I use iMessage all the time with church folk. I understand some people do not like to hand out their cell phone number and I do have a Google Voice number that I leave on the church website and on our answering machine. However, with my church members I give them my cell phone number. Frequently I text them letting them know that I am praying for them or perhaps I want to touch base with them about a matter within the church. I also categorize this app under communications and two other apps I use to help facilitate communication are Slack (a messaging app that I use with different teams inside and outside the church) and Zoom (a video conferencing app).
Kindle – I take my personal growth very seriously. I am constantly reading, and thinking about my abilities as a preacher, pastor and ministry leader. Kindle is critical in allowing me to grow by the materials I consume. I am in the process of reading a few books at a time. Typically I am reading a book on leadership, theology and organizational systems. Here is a link to some of my favorite books and resources. Along with the Kindle the other two apps I use very frequently are Audible (audiobooks) and Libby (an app connected to my library for ebooks and audio books).
Goodreader – I use a iPad mini to lead worship. I have everything I need to lead worship on my iPad and I use Goodreader as the app to read my worship bulletin out of and my sermon (although I am moving towards paperless preaching). I have tried iBooks, Dropbox and my Kindle in worship leadership before but none of them work as good as Goodreader. I simply connect the app to sync with my Google Drive and I place PDF copies of my worship bulletin and my sermon in a folder on Google Drive and I can then pull it up right away. In the app itself I can make last min notes and corrections digitally, I can highlight certain things I want to remember or empthize and I turn pages like a book instead of scrolling.
Notion – This is the newest of all the apps that I have used. In using it so far I believe it will eventually replace many of the apps I have already talked about. Notion is proudly claiming itself to be the All-in-One Workplace. The more I am using it the promising this is to becoming true. Here is how I am using it and what apps it is starting to replace.
Notes & Docs – It is starting to replace Evernote and Google Docs. Notion creates a simple, beautiful writing experience, I am writing my sermons within Notion and my meeting notes (when I am not writing notes on my iPad). I have not tried leading worship in Notion but that is my next experiment.
Knowledge Base – I am using Notion alongside all of my Bible Studies, Teaching experiences and presentations. I used to point people to my website or a dropbox link to get downloadable material or my presentation notes. But now I can use Notion and this is a game changes for me. I no longer have to reformat or upload anything else. I am using this alongside my confirmation class and parents and kids are really enjoying it.
Tasks & Projects – As I mentioned above I have used many different task manager apps. Inside of these apps I have a list of tasks and projects that I am constantly managing. I believe within six months I will replace Todoist with Notion. There are a few more bells and whistles that need to be added before I completly make the move but from what I have seen these updates are not too far away.
Spreadsheets & Databases – I love spreadsheets and databases like the next person. I use Numbers on my Mac or Google Sheets if I am sharing it with someone else. Notion is replacing these apps for me. I am creating more tables and databases then ever before. For example, I created a database of my confirmation students and within the database is a link to their personal assignment task page. In that I check things off that they have accomplished (Bible lessons, sermon notes ect). Before Notion this was kept in a spreadsheet (if I was lucky in finding where I saved it) or in a notebook. Replacement to Google Sheets and Airtable. The promise: Keep records of everything. Capture your unique workflows.
I use Notion for personally as well. I keep track of the movies I see in the theatre (which is weekly since I have an AMC A-List membership), a digital library of the books that I own, an online resume or bio page for the speaking that I do and so much more. I haven’t been this excited about an app since Evernote first came out.
These are the apps that I can’t live without. What are some of the apps you enjoy using? Which ones should I check out? Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what you think.
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