Post Author: Erica Schemper
Ministry is like no other job in the world. A normal workweek might include tasks that look similar to the work of a counselor, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a plumber, an artist, and a stay at home parent. Many clergy find they have to piece together the organizational tools that work best for their context, because there’s no one perfect solution for our career’s unique organizational needs.
And so, in the spirit of a New Year, and in hopes of new discoveries for doing your best job of staying organized, we asked members of the Young Clergy Women Project what apps they’ve found to be most useful for the organized clergywoman. Answers that were most applicable to the needs of our career fell into a few categories: devotions, hours, to-dos, information management, reimbursables, and teamwork. Many of these are free or have free basic packages. Most work on various platforms, with exceptions noted.
Olive Tree is a popular Bible app with an extensive library of Bible study tools, including Greek and Hebrew tools. In-app purchases are not cheap, but it’s worth it if you want a mobile Bible study library.
NeuBible is a Bible app designed by graphic designers. It’s simple, with carefully chosen fonts, beautiful to interact with if you want a Bible that was designed to be read on a screen. Some translations are free, others are available for a fee. We’re hoping they may eventually get a few more of the modern translations popular in mainline Protestant churches, and use beyond Apple devices.
Pray as You Go, the app based on the popular daily prayer podcast, delivers daily prayers as well as prayer preparation and other devotional exercises.
Ceaseless is an app that helps you pray for the people in your contact lists, a few everyday, paired with a daily scripture passage. It’s currently only available for iPhone.
Stop, Breathe, & Think guides you through a short mindfulness meditation routine.
Hours Tracker is designed for freelance workers to track hours, and could be set up for tracking time in various areas of ministry. If your work is hourly, or if you have more than one position and need to create reports for timesheets, this is your app.
OfficeTime is another highly rated time tracker, particularly for billable hours and its integration with apps like iCal and ability to sync information with your computer.
Eternity Time Log feels more like a personal care monitor than a human resources tool. It’s designed to help you track where all your time is going: work, play, chores, sleep, etc. But it could also be set up for various areas of ministry.
And then there’s the Google Maps hack one of our members recommends. Ministry is often mobile, and if you enable Google Maps to remember where you’ve been, you can return to that log if you forgot how long you spent visiting at the hospital last week, or how many hours you actually were at the church for that funeral.
Todoist and Wunderlist both work across multiple platforms and can be used collaboratively as well. Both also have features for businesses that could work well for larger church staffs to coordinate on projects.
Clear is a simple, visually pleasing version of the to do list for Apple products. If you want fewer bells and whistles and a simple way to check things off your list, this is a good option for you.
Several of our members are fans of You Need a Budget, not just as an app, but as a method for developing and maintaining a personal budget. One member has also figured out how to use the app to track her church reimbursable expenses and things like continuing education accounts:
I have a master category called “reimbursable” with sub-categories (continuing education, professional expenses, travel) plus “other” for when I put things for the church on my card but they come out of a church budget category like Christian Education or Worship.
I budget $0 for these things, so anytime I spend money, it shows up as a big red number reminding me to get reimbursed. The reimbursement goes right into that category when I get it, bringing it back to zero.
I’ve also made off-budget “checking” accounts to keep track of how much I have left to spend in a church account. So if I have $1000 in continuing education for the year, it looks like $1000 in a checking account (though of course it is really in the church’s account and not mine). Then if I spend $300 for a conference and get reimbursed, I record the reimbursement as a “transfer” from that off-budget account into my actual on-budget checking account.
XpenseTrackr helps you keep track of receipts and mileage for reimbursement. (Apple only)
Marco Polo Live (iPhone) and Marco Polo Video Walkie Talkie (Android) allow users to talk live via video, one to one or in groups, and the video is also saved so that it can be viewed later if people aren’t available right away. One church is using it as a way to stop and pray together at various times in the day.
Slack offers a way to organize team communication without email. It could work for church staffs or collaborative committees, and those who are using it rave about how it cuts down on bulky emails.
Files and Information
Dropbox and Google Drive both provide ways to make files portable from device to device and place to place, and to share documents and collaborate on them. If you have a tech savvy-enough congregation or committee, these tools make your life simpler.
Evernote has a devoted following among young clergywomen. It organizes information in all kinds of ways. Some of our members use it to keep church projects organized, others to coordinate their home-life, and a few have used it to write books! For helpful information about how to use it, we direct you to these blog posts by MaryAnn McKibben Dana, one of our founding members.
Erica Schemper is a PC(USA) minister who works part time in youth and children’s ministry while managing the lives and schedules of her own three young children. Her favorite organizational tools are her iPhone and a stack of three by five notecards.
Image by: Ana Maria Menezes
Used with permission