When my wife and I left the “bigger city” (Oklahoma City), and followed God’s call to an agricultural community that served as an oasis for families in every direction for two hours, we quickly realized our dining and date night entertainment options shrunk! We left a growing city, where we had discovered some really great restaurants – from fancier “special occasion” places to everyday onion burgers. We had our pick of places to eat or hang out with friends. In our new home, it took a little bit of time and a lot of Chick-fil-A to realize that there were other options in town. We still love Chick-fil-A (like any good youth pastor) but over time we had figured out where to get good coffee & dessert, which restaurants had the best breakfast (I found a diner that I occasioned multiple times a week, with my accountability group). Eventually, we realized that our new town, though it had fewer options, had just what we needed for this season of life.
THE RIGHT FIT
I don’t know where you’re ministering right now, but I imagine it can be difficult to determine what technology lines up with your needs and budget. I recently joined the staff at a traditionally large Nazarene church in the Kansas City area, who’s gone through some transition as of recently. We have a larger youth group, with separate Mid-High and Senior-High. When I arrived, I made it a priority to learn as many names of students as possible as fast as I could. What I realized was that in the history of the youth group, they had divided each grade level with their own co-pastor who supported the work of ministry to individual students. In the transition those positions were let go and a group of adults stepped up to fill the void of small group mentors.
Many of our new adults didn’t know names or faces of the students because of the larger group, so it was often difficult to figure out who was new, who our regular students were, and how to reach out to those who were missing during the transition. Over the following weeks, we discovered that our church database was too clunky for our mentors to utilize. However, I wanted to challenge our mentors to get to know students by name. Through some past experience and some digging, we landed on an affordable app called MinHub that we could put in the hands (on their phones) of each of our mentors. We don’t have all the kinks ironed out, but most of our mentors have spoken about the ability to keep up with their students and see faces as well as contact information necessary to connect with students. We didn’t need an expensive solution. When we got connected to MinHub we quickly realized it met an identified need and continues to be the primary way our mentors initiate relationships with current and new students.
We all have stories about using technology to meet a need whether it’s because we were the youngest on staff or the one who cared the most about the impression it made about the church. So we learned how to animate text in AfterEffects for our Christmas Eve service or we stayed up late on YouTube to learn how to shoot and edit our senior highlight video the next day, only to realize that these pieces might not be seen past their initial use. With technology today there are many great apps and websites to inspire and resource, and even streamline the work we’re all doing. Sometimes we just need to spend a few minutes deciding what’s right for our ministry as we comb through so many options. The more we’re open to conversations about best practices and resources, I would like to think the better we can minister together!
MY TOP SITES & RESOURCES
Since moving to KC, we have discovered a slew of great restaurants! My family and I eat out way more than we should now with our pick of individual pizzas, burrito and taco trucks, or some of the best BBQ north of the Red River. Today it’s more about portion control and practicing saying no, when the only place we want to eat is the “artisan donut” shop!
What other apps and websites are your go tos? What core values do you evaluate technology with?
Here are a few of my favorite go to sites and resources. Some are cheap or free, others offer more features and might cost a little. Hope these help!
typeform.com (quick, beautiful forms)
youthgroupcollective.com (good reads for youth ministry ideas)
SimpleBooth (a bit pricy but totally worth it, if you use photo booths at events)
Spotify (see what friends in ministry are listening to through the social playlist feature)