The Tools I Use

God created us with a vast capacity for forward thinking and innovation. God didn’t make humans the fastest, the biggest, or the strongest – He made us thinkers. With this capacity, humans, the only creation made in God’s image, can invent, create, and do things more effectively.

With any field, there are tools of the trade. Below, I’ve listed some of the things I use most often – you’ll find them in these categories: communication, planning and organization, message prep, design, and other resources. If there’s something I’m leaving out, let me know!

Communication

  • Buffer After using a few social media management services (like HootSuite), I have landed on this one as my favorite because of its simplicity. With this platform, you pick what times of the day you’d like to post then add what you want to say – it does the rest.
  • Facebook As much as I would like to leave Facebook because of privacy concerns, I’m still holding on because it’s a very effective way to communicate to adults (not students). Of all the features of Facebook, the direct message portion is 80% of what I use.
  • Instagram If you are a student pastor, you should be on this photo-centric social network.
  • MailChimp If creating beautiful and smart emails is something you want to do, look no further than MailChimp. This service makes creating jaw-droppingly nice emails in reach for everyone and provides a full array of analytics for knowing how effective your email campaigns really are.
  • Word Swag This wonderful app takes what would take significant time in design work to mere seconds. Combine this with Instagram (or any social network, really) and you’ve type-based photos that will make people wonder how you afford a graphic designer. Great for making announcements, like this one.
  • WordPress My favorite blogging platform – I’ve tried others, but this one is the best with a good balance between ease of use and rich features. You’re currently reading this on a WordPress blog.

Planning and Organization

  • Dropbox If you’ve ever been frustrated (like me) when you wanted to share files with someone but they were too large to email, Dropbox is your new best friend. Not only can you store files in the cloud (so you can access it anywhere), you can share folders with others so you’re always in sync with those you collaborate with.
  • Evernote There’s no better service than Evernote. Evernote is a note storage service that makes organization a breeze.
  • IFTTT The name for this automation service means “if this then that.” Don’t let “automation service” scare you – IFTTT simply performs an action when something else happens. For instance, you could tell IFTTT to send you a text message every time someone specific posts on Instagram. There are millions of combinations that make life easier.
  • Omnifocus When you have a million tasks on your mind and you need a good place to keep them organized, Omnifocus is your tool. I’ll go ahead and tell you now that it’s expensive, but if you are serious about getting things done, you can’t beat Omnifocus.
  • Planning Center This tool makes crafting great services as easy as it can be. From mapping out each minute to scheduling volunteers, Planning Center is the gold standard for church production planning.

Message Prep

  • Bible Gateway This easy-to-use website makes looking up Scripture references in various translations simple. I generally use it to compare up to five translations at a time.
  • iBooks This proprietary Apple app for Mac and iOS is the only app I use for reading books. The ability to sync across my iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro and search within books makes this app one of my favorites.
  • My Word Search Bible This full-featured website – based on the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) – allows users to search the Hebrew and Greek by simply mousing over a word.

Design

  • Church Stage Design Ideas This is a great website for doing exactly what it says – getting church stage design ideas. I like that this site gives plenty of photos and detailed descriptions of the building process, materials, and costs.
  • DaFont This website is full of free fonts for both Windows and Mac. Search by name, style, or just browse by top downloads.
  • Final Cut Pro X This pro-level Mac app is the big brother of Apple’s iMovie.  Though it got a lot of bad press upon its initial release, I find that it does everything I need it to do and plenty more.
  • MoPho.to This great site is full of completely free photos to use. Quality stuff, too!
  • Graceway Media I’ve been using this paid service for a few years now and I love it even more than when I first signed up. It has saved me days (if not weeks) of creative time. Download PPT slides, JPEGs, worship and bumper videos, and even Photoshop and AfterEffects files for customization.
  • Keynote This app is the Mac version of Microsoft’s PowerPoint. If you’ve never used Keynote, you’re missing out. I can’t tell you how much better Keynote is than PowerPoint. Seriously, go to an Apple Store and check it out – you won’t be disappointed.
  • Pages This app is the Mac equivalent of Microsoft Word and Publisher. Like Keynote, Pages blows its competition out of the water.
  • Pixelmator If you are looking for a graphics editor in the same league as Photoshop (but on the cheap), Pixelmator is it. This Mac app is feature rich and its website is jam-packed with tutorials that put even the most advanced techniques in reach of people like me.
  • ProPresenter This app for both Mac and Windows (often dubbed “Pro6”) is the best worship presentation software out there. Pro6 blends ease-of-use with high-end features that make this the only choice for your church.
  • PSD Graphics This website is a bookmark every dabbler in graphic editing needs in their browser. PSD Graphics hosts a ton of backgrounds, images, tutorials, and more that can be easily edited.
  • Sunday | Magazine This digital magazine for church creatives is a great read. It’s free to subscribe to, so visit the site and sign up!

Resources

  • Open.LifeChurch.tv This completely free online storehouse of high-quality resources (leadership training, sermons, videos, youth and children’s curriculum, and more) is an indispensable tool for church leaders.
  • Orange If you’re not familiar with Orange, you should be. Orange is a church resource company who’s name comes from a great ministry philosophy and strategy. Even if you don’t use them, you own it to yourself to understand why they call themselves Orange.
  • RightNow Media This service has often been called the Netflix of bible studies because it houses and streams hundreds of online bible study videos from the biggest names in Christian teaching. I’m so glad our church is a member and I highly recommend you check it out.

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