I love lists. I also like finding new tools, apps, and services that help me expand my ministries! I’m often reading lists of people’s favorite Ministry apps and services, and I frequently find some things that I’m able to incorporate myself. Here are some of the tools I’ve found most helpful:
1. Planning Center Online – Services
Far and away, this is the best and most helpful tool I could recommend. I tell so many people about it, I feel like I should be getting paid! If you’re not familiar with Planning Center Online, they offer an entire suite of apps for church administration. The apps all work together, so everything works like a charm. You can decide which apps you want to use or not, and each app has different plans, so you can decide what works best for your church.
Services is the app centered on music, and I have found it indispensable. It does so many things, I couldn’t explain them all! It lets me track all of our hymns and specials, and then tag and organize them however I want. I can quickly pull up a list of every song that a particular soloist or group has sung, and the see the last time it was used in a service, for example. I also use services to quickly and easily put together the order of service for each of our services.
Services also allows each person involved in our music ministry to have their own account, with different permission levels. All of our scheduling is done through Services. I schedule all the specials and songs, and our church pianist goes in on his account and schedules our pianists and offertories. Then, everyone receives an email with their personal schedule for the month. They can log in on the Services website, or use the app (iOS and Android), to view each service. They can confirm/deny each request, or block out dates when they are unavailable.
Services is also fantastic when it comes to distributing sheet music and other files. I upload sheet music, practice tracks, or recordings to each song, and each person can access it in order to practice. For someone like me who is very scatterbrained, Services makes administrating a music ministry much easier!
Pricing for Services depends on how many team members you have. My church pays $15/month for 25 team members; you can choose a plan that includes more members for a higher monthly fee. There is also a free tier that includes five members, which is a great way to try the app out, and see if it’s the right fit for your church!
2. Planning Center Online – Projector
This is another Planning Center app that I use every week. It integrates with Services, so it automatically pulls over your order of service, song lyrics, media files, etc.
Projector is an app for running your church media. When I came to the church, we were stringing a 100 foot vga cable around the room and running all of our slides and videos on PowerPoint. We constantly had problems! Cables would break; our compute frequently had weird glitches; switching between slides and videos was messy and distracting.
We switched to using Projector several months ago, and it works much better! It is an iOS only app that airplays to an Apple TV, so it’s totally wireless. I simply upload all of our media to Services, and it downloads to Projector. All of our media is laid out in a very simple interface, and switching between slides and videos is as easy as tapping. Projector allows you to easily change the background on song lyrics, overlay messages on the screen, and quickly change the screen to display your church’s logo.
There are a lot of great programs designed for church software out there. The problem is, they cost hundreds of dollars! Projector costs $2/month. It’s a great app, especially if you are already using Planning Center.
When I was in high school, I had an opportunity to help my music and youth director with an important and time-consuming job: listening to all the music he received from various choral clubs! My job was to listen to the songs, and write down which ones we would be able to do in church. As he explained to me, most of the songs had too much of a rock/pop style for our church.
He was right! I listened to a lot of songs like “Stomp” and “Jumpin’ and Jivin'”, but had to look very hard to find a diamond in the rough. Finding good music is hard! RevivalSong! makes it a little bit easier.
In the last year or two, Pastor Wayne Hardy (Bible Baptist Church, Stillwater, OK, my home church) has launched RevivalSong!, a great resource where you can find high-quality, conservative sheet music. They are currently focusing more on choral arrangements, but they also have sheet music for solos, quartets, trios, and solos. RevivalSong! has become one of the first places I check for music.
I am a very scatterbrained person; if I don’t write something down, or set a reminder for myself, there’s no way that I’ll remember. A good planner and to-do list is crucial for me!
I’m also terrible with paper; I lose any piece of paper I have in about 10 seconds. So, I need a full-featured to-do app to keep me on task! I tried several of them, but was continually frustrated by one of two things: they did not have all the features I needed, or they relied too heavily on a gimmick. I just wanted a full-featured app that didn’t rely on an overly unique UI or gimmicky approach to to-do lists.
Todoist is what I finally settled on; I have been using it for a year, and I still think it’s great! There is a premium version for $30 a year, but the free version may be enough for you. Todoist is simple, fast, available on just about every platform, and has all the features I need. It uses natural language for adding tasks, which means adding a task is as simple as typing “call so-and-so at 7 pm tomorrow”, or, “send music schedule every month on the 15th”. Tasks can be sorted into different projects, assigned to a certain day, given priority, and assigned a label.
This one makes it on a lot of lists, and for good reason: it’s fantastic. I don’t know how I would get by without Evernote. It lets me sort and store notes of all kinds: text, pictures, business cards, sketches, audio recordings, documents…anything!
Evernote has very powerful sorting tools, so I can make custom notebooks and tags to store everything. Fore example, I have started making a note for each game I play in youth or kids class, and tagging it “Games”. Then I can easily pull up anything with that tag when scrambling to find a game to play.
If you are not using something like Evernote, OneNote, Google Keep…you should! It helps a scatterbrained guy like me keep everything organized.
I’m always looking for new resources and tools to help me in my ministries, and these are some of the ones that have been most helpful to me! If you have any other helpful tools, feel free to comment on this post, on our facebook, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org