Tools I Use for Organization

Yesterday I shared with you the urge for Pastors to maximize their time for the glory of King Jesus. Today I'd like to share with you some technological tools I use to help accomplish the responsibilities and demands for my own ministry. Again, I pray that it will be helpful for you in your stewardship of time.  In case you didn't know this about me, I am an Apple guy.  I use a macbook, iPad, and iPhone.  I'm totally committed to over-priced, but great quality, user friendly gadgets.  As a result, some of the apps I'm going to share are Apple only.

Evernote

Evernote is a life saver.  Seriously if you have never heard of it you need to go to their website and check it out.  The great thing is that for a basic account it is totally free.  Evernote is pretty much a cloud based database that can search and sort pretty much anything you want to put into it.  It syncs across all your devices and allows you to have quick and easy access to any information or documents you need.  It is pretty much the 21st century version of a portable filing cabinet that you can carry around with you on your phone.

Evernote helps me bridge the gap between Paper and Digital.  My go to resource for getting thoughts down is pen and paper.  That's why I carry my Moleskine Notebook with me everywhere.  However with Evernote you can scan or snap a picture via phone of your documents and Evernote can search for them later.  It's pretty incredible.

As a Pastor, Evernote is an incredible tool.  A lot of my sermon prep and notes start in Evernote.  I am able to store my finished sermons on Evernote for easy access later.  As a Pastor, you are constantly reading.  I do my best to stay in touch with the Christian blogosphere so I can keep informed with trends and discussions.  The great thing about Evernote is I can save all those resources into Evernote and tag them for easy searching.  For example, if I'm writing a sermon on the Holy Spirit, I can search the phrase "Holy Spirit" and it brings up everything I've ever put into evernote on the Holy Spirit in seconds.  It is a seriously powerful tool and its only limitation is your own imagination.  It is a must have tool for 21st century pastors who want to stay organize.

Calendar and iCloud

With the Apple Calendar application powered by iCloud I can keep my calendars in sync easily no matter what device I have on me.  As a pastor this helps me schedule appointments and look at my calendar right on the spot.  It allows me to schedule meetings with other people without having to carry around a Personal Planner.  A great feature for my marriage is the sharing feature.  I am able to share events scheduled with my wife, and she can always see what is going on with my calendar from her iPhone.  Also when either I add something to the Calendar or she adds something to the calendar, we get an email from the other person notifying them of the change.  This helps prevent miscommunication and keeps us on the same page together.

Reeder

I just mentioned that I like to stay informed through blogs what is happening in the Christian world.  A big way I do that is through a Google Reader account.  My Google Reader Client of choice is Reeder which has apps for iPhone, iPad, and Mac.  It is a slick interface that allows me to stay informed with news and blogs on the go.  My favorite feature though is the one click option for saving a blog post into Evernote.  This allows me to read and file quickly and easily.

Things

Things is an app that I just recently re-added to my organizational system.  I am a big fan of "to do" lists.  I used to just write them in my moleskine.  I have always like Things, but it took them along time to put out a Cloud Sync solution that fits in with my mobile life.  However, with a recent launch of the new and improved Things 2, it has been a huge asset.  Things is more than just a to do list.  It helps you organizes Projects and Responsibilities and get things done.  Whenever I think of something I need to do, or if someone asks me to do something, I pull out my iPhone and enter it into Things.  This way it keeps me from forgetting about it. Pastors have to deal with church members all the time who ask them to do things.  A lot of times church members ask you these things at the worst possible times, like right before a worship service or while seeing you at a restaurant.  As a result, many Pastors understandably forget.  Things helps me remember in addition to maximizing my productivity.  Besides, for geeks like me there is nothing more thrilling than seeing a completed "to-do" list.

YNAB

YNAB stands for You Need a Budget.  It is a system based off of Dave Ramsey's envelop method for personal finance.  This tool has been incredible in helping me maintain my families finances.  This tool has been huge in helping me to be a good stewards with the money God has given me, and is perfect for the lives of busy Pastors.  If you are looking for a good way to get a Biblical handle on your finances, give this a chance.  With their companion mobile app you can enter in transactions and budget them on the go.  This helps you keep track of every dollar and eases the stress of personal finances.

I hope these are some tools you can look into to help maximize your time and organize your priorities.  There are a few other tools I use not listed, but these are the primary ones I use.  Some of these tools do cost some money, but good tools aren't cheap.  My philosophy is that if it means spending a couple bucks to help me maximize my time for Jesus, it is worth it.  If I am going to be a good pastor, than it means sometimes spending money of good tools to get the job done.

What sort of organization system do you use?  What apps or tools do you use to help meet the demands of life?  Leave your thoughts in the comments!

Potential Dangers of Your Bible App

 

Technology is amazing isn't it?  I mean who would have ever thought that we would one day be able to open on the Bible and read it on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.  However, with any gift there are some potential dangers...

If we are not careful the convince of ready availability of the Bible can cheapen the preciousness of the Bible.  In an age where the Bible app stands next to the Facebook app we must be very careful not to demise the worthiness of the Bible in the eyes of our culture.  For example, many church members have stopped bringing paper Bibles to church on Sunday Worship.  The will prioritize bringing a smartphone or an iPad, but don't bother carrying a Bible. Carrying a Bible communicates to others the preciousness of that which you are carrying.  It communicates to others that this book is significant enough and valuable enough that it is worth the extra trouble of carrying the extra weight with me.  It also makes a distinction between the Word of God, and whatever else you have on your device.  This is why I personally have made the decision to always bring a paper Bible with me to the pulpit.  I'll sometimes use my iPad for notes, but I always make sure I have a Bible with me, because it communicates to the congregation the preciousness of the words of Scripture.

Part of this concern is a very practical one as well.  Smartphone Bibles can be very distracting.  You can be reading Isaiah then get a text message or an email and your focus is no longer on the Bible but on your inbox.  In the day of so many technological distractions, we must not let the scriptures take the backseat to the twitter app.

No don't get me wrong.  bible apps can be very helpful.  For example, when your sitting in the doctor's office waiting for the doctor you have the Bible right there on your phone.  Take those extra minutes washing your mind in the Word rather than people magazine.  They can also be convenient for evangelism, and even for Bible Study.  Some of the Bible Study tools available in the digital age are absolutely astounding.  My favorite is Logos. I use the iPad app all the time.  With it I can quickly pull up the Greek or Hebrew Text and do a word study on the go.  The technology of this age is a gift from God, but we must never let the gift of technology become our God.

We must always keep a healthy balance, and think through the implications of everything we do.  God's Word is precious and the way we handle the text physically should communicate that to others.