As a tech-loving youth minister, I'm always looking for apps that will help increase my productivity. Over the last couple of years, I've used a lot of apps, but these are the three I've used the longest. And every time I've tried other apps, I've always come back to these.
So here's how and why I use these apps...
App #1 - Simplenote
I love Simplenote. It is what it says. It's just a simple note-taking app. It's quick. It's got some good tagging features (if you like using tags). It's clean. It's simple. And it syncs between my Android phone, my iPad, and my MacBook Air. Not to mention, the Mac desktop app is awesome.
I actually write all of my Bible classes, devotionals and sermons in Simplenote. I'm even writing this blog article in Simplenote right now. It doesn't have any formatting features (especially like Drafts 4), but it works. And I'm not real big into formatting in my notes anyways. I usually do all of that when I move my notes to a document later.
Simple note automatically saves whatever you type. It's backed up. It even has security features that can require a pin code to open the app.
Simplenote is a great app for typing down quick thoughts, quotes, lists of students who attend events, Bible class & sermon ideas, and even writing out your notes for those classes and sermons you will teach.
And it's a FREE app. Which makes it even better.
App #2 - Evernote
I've had a love-hate relationship with Evernote for a long time. It's like the high school relationship that you keep going back to. You take a break for a while, then you get back together. That's me and Evernote.
I used to use Evernote for everything. I wrote all of my classes & sermons in Evernote. I used it as a to-do list. Reminders. Everything.
But I got tired of the mobile app. It has to run a lot of stuff, and so it became kinda slow. And that bothered me. Plus, I wanted to see the notes I was working on at a quick glance. And because I used Evernote for everything, I couldn't see what I wanted to see.
Now I still use Evernote for everything, but in a different way. Here's how...
I back up all of my classes, devotionals and sermons in Evernote. I don't know if this is a good idea or not, but I don't have any physical copies of classes & sermons that I've done for the last five or six years. It's all in Evernote. Evernote is my digital filing cabinet. They are tagged for the series that I taught them in, as well as "Bible Class" or "Sermon". And I can search all of them by typing in key words.
If I find interesting articles that may become good illustrations, I use the Evernote Web Clipper (both for Safari & Google Chrome). The web clipper is an awesome feature. You can save a simple version of the article, or the whole page (depending on which looks better). I always struggled with saving illustrations. Not anymore. I have hundreds in Evernote. Literally. I checked the other day.
I back up any mass email I send to our parents. I back up notes from meetings. I keep a record of baptisms of students in our youth ministry. I keep records for tax purposes. I store previous camp curriculums, staff lists, activity ideas, and anything associated with the week of camp I direct. If my wife says she likes something that may be a gift idea later, I put it in Evernote.
I use Evernote all of the time. Mostly for backing things up.
And there's a free version of the app.
App #3 - Google Sheets
I use Google Sheets for two reasons.
The first reason is because I keep a track of the mileage that I drive for ministry-related purposes. This is for tax reasons. But I use the spreadsheet and pre-enter a formula so that when I enter beginning & ending mileage, it automatically adds it up for me. Plus I enter the date and reason for the trip. At the end of the year, I print it off and keep a record of it (in Evernote) as well as giving it to our CPA for end of the year taxes.
The second reason is because Google Sheets connects to our youth ministry website, which is a Squarespace website. When someone signs up for an event on our website, it will automatically dump that information into a Google Spreadsheet (which I can view on my phone or iPad too). I then create some additional columns to keep track of who paid. After a trip or event, I log all expenses on that spreadsheet and turn it in to our secretary and leadership. It saves me a ton of time and work creating and editing spreadsheets.
And Google Sheets is free.
These are three apps that I use on a weekly basis for youth ministry. If you have any apps that you would add to the list, send them to us in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you.