BrettBoe

equipping God's people for free and living Christianity

Technology Tools for Ministry

*WARNING: Dear King of Glory flock, the intended audience of this post is my fellow pastors. But, I hope you enjoy this “behind the scenes” look into life as a pastor. Grace and Peace to you!

Yes, I do love technology. Some may think it’s evil. Some may think it’s great. I think of technology as a tool, much like a hammer is a tool to do a certain job. Tools can be used for good or for evil. I have made it my desire to use tKip- technologyhe tool of technology for the greatest good that I can in ministry. I harbor no ill will towards those who prefer to use pen, paper, and other tools. One must “be fully convinced” of which way to fulfill the task before him.

Every so often I get asked about how I use certain tools. “What apps do you use?” “How do you setup sermon prep in Logos?” “Why do you love Evernote so much?” One blog I follow offers a weekly interview of how people setup their Mac and iPhone. Check it out: Sweet Setup: Mac and iOS setups.
We can learn a lot from each other, brother pastors! If there is one little tidbit that saves us a sliver of time in our week, I estimate that we can be more of a blessing to our congregations as we faithfully preach the Word and shepherd. I figured that it’s time for me to offer my “setup.” And I invite others to offer their own setup. I would actually be very interested to read those.

To start, I have to confess that I am a Mac devotee. I really enjoy using their products. So, if you are a PC user, this post may not fully apply to you. But, you could still possibly benefit from it. I don’t look down upon you for not being a Mac fanboy like me. LOL. I currently own a Macbook Pro 13-inch, Mid 2012 model. I have an iPhone 6S Plus. Personally, I like tools that seamlessly sync across devices. We have an older iMac at home that I often use to pick up where I left off while at the pastor’s study. I will offer a Part 2 where I list my iPhone setup. For now, let me offer you a list of technology tools on my Mac desktop that I can’t imagine not having as part of my arsenal.

Evernote

I love Evernote!! Although I didn’t receive it, I had an Evernote t-shirt on my Christmas Amazon wish list. Perhaps someday I’ll write a post solely devoted to Evernote. Evernote brands itself as a tool to “remember everything.” I have 13,225 notes that range from short tidbits I have written down, Kindle highlights saved, book reviews I have done, PDFs I Evernotehave gathered on various topics, web articles I have saved through the Evernote web clipper, sermon prep notes, scanned hand-written AFLBS class notes, AFLTS Word document class notes, and random things I have scanned (either via the Scannable app or through my ScanSnap s1300i). As you can imagine, I like to be as “paperless” as possible. The great thing is: it’s all searchable! Evernote even recognizes my handwriting (unless it’s not too sloppy). For example, while I’m doing sermon prep, I may remember something we covered in seminary. I can search for a keyword and have a list of every Evernote note that contains that word. I can narrow the search to find what I’m looking for in a matter of a few seconds or minutes. Tagging notes in Evernote is a game-changer for me. For example, my class notes from Pastor Haugen’s class “Romans and Galatians” is tagged with these tags: ROM, GAL, AFLTS. I use a modified system based on this fantastic article by Michael Hyatt to organize all of my Evernote notes.
In addition, I write down notes about the visits I make with the people of the church. By doing this, I can easily remind myself of what has been happening in their lives by looking at the note I have made regarding the last time we talked. To organize my visitation in a systematic way, I have Evernote notes for every household in my congregation and follow a modified system based on this article. I really wish I did a better job of actually following through with this system. At bottom line, I do pray for everyone in the congregation by following this type of schedule. These are just a few ways I use Evernote.

Logos

I really love Logos Bible Software as wLogosell. It was such a blessing to receive Lenski’s commentary set for free while in seminary. The search function in Logos saves me hours of finding the right information for sermon prep. It can become a crutch for original language work. But, if this is kept in mind, Logos can greatly enrich my study of the original language for sermon and Bible study preparation.

Here is a screenshot of my “Layout” for New
Testament sermon prep:

Logos screenshot

I like having two columns. The left hand side has the Greek text, the NASB, and other Bible translations. The right hand column contains all of the commentaries I might like to reference for this particular sermon series. Each week, I edit the passages and save a new layout to use for the next sermon.

Omnifocus

I keep all of my tasks organized iOmnifocusn Omnifocus. I have come to appreciate the “Getting Things Done” (GTD) system for organizing all of the tasks that are before me. Check it out. I feel like a broken record, but I used a modified system of the GTD approach to task management. In Omnifocus, I have contexts for Home, Pastor’s Study, Communication, and “OutNAbout” (all of the tasks related to errands that I might do while driving around). I further subdivided the Home and Pastor’s Study context into “High Energy” and “Low Energy.” Certain tasks, like spending time preparing for that Confirmation class, require me to be at “high energy,” while other tasks, like filling out a baptismal certificate, don’t require a lot of energy. One thing I really enjoy about Omnifocus on the Mac is that by pressing Control-Option-Space bar I can write down a task that comes randomly to mind. Later on I clean out my “Inbox” and sort those tasks into project lists.

Honorable Mention

While I spend most of my time in Evernote, Logos, and Omnifocus, these other apps also find their way into my daily workflow.
TextExpander– If I type “eem” it automatically deletes those letters and plugs in my email address. This is a handy, behind-the-scenes application that saves me time in typing things that I type frequently.
Hazel– Hazel is also a behind-the-scenes app. I have Hazel rules that move certain files automatically. For example, every PDF that I download on my computer is auto-magically moved into Evernote without me doing anything!
Pages and Byword– These are my go-to apps for word processing.
Mac Mail and Mail Butler– I am able to keep my email inbox to zero (as much as possible) while also saving emails for reference to Evernote and tasks to Omnifocus. Connecting MailButler to Mac Mail allows me to accomplish this.
Keynote– the Mac version of PowerPoint. I much prefer Keynote over PowerPoint. Adding pictures and other media to slideshow presentations is easier in Keynote, in my opinion.
PDF Expert– while “Preview” gets the job done on Mac, I have found PDF Expert to work well for me to highlight, annotate and save PDFs to Evernote. The iOS app allows me to pick up reading and highlighting an important PDF article. I have all of the PDFs for the Journal of Biblical Counseling. It is a great resource to me in growing as a pastoral counselor. I use PDF Expert to highlight what sticks out to me in those and other articles.
Spotify– You gotta have some music in the background while doing all of this! 🙂 Follow me on Spotify and I’ll follow you back. It’s fun to see what music others listen to. I have certain playlists depending on what mood I’m in. Certain playlists are better for sermon prep while others are better for other type of work we do.

There you have it. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think about this. Let me know if you have any ideas or apps that you love to use in ministry. And, as a final note, don’t get swept away in spending your time with your tools. Let them be just that: tools. They help you fulfill your vocation as pastor in a timely, efficient, and effective way. God bless!

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2 Comments

  1. Great post Brett. Even if you are a Mac “devotee” 😉

    Instead of Evernote, I used Microsoft OneNote. Simply because I have most of my seminary classes audio recorded inline with the notes I took. Evernote couldn’t do that, so I stuck with OneNote in Seminary. However, I file my data much like you do only just using folders on the PC and then using the search funciton of Windows. It can’t read my scanned in paper notes, but it searches PDFs, .doc, .ppt and other file formats.

    Logos is a hugh win in my book! I use nearly the same format as you every week. My only complaint, is that I can have thousands of books in Logos and not know that I have half of them. Would be cool if they made a virtual library room we could enter for our account and see the books on a shelf virtually… they could even set it up so we could categorize how they are organized differently… I’m just dreaming though.

    Re Omnifocus, I use Wunderlist and I am addicted. It’s my personality type to make an item on my todo list that I’ve already done just so I have the satisfaction of checking it off. Still, Wunderlist has helped me organize my todo’s in my ministry and personal life. It’s cross platform too.

    Honorable Mentions: I would say Chrome. So much I can do with Chrome I couldn’t do elsewhere. Also Mnemosyne, a robust flash card program
    Brad Novacek introduced me to in Sem. Message+ is excellent too, it’s a PC program for text Messages through Verizon. Dropbox is a new one on my list. Working on folder mirroring for backup with Dropbox.

    There is much more, but these are top of my list. Thanks for sharing yours. It’s given me a desire to take another look at Evernote after a five years of ignoring it.

    • Brett Boe

      thanks, Jesse! It was interesting to read through your list. I like your idea of a Logos ‘virtual library.’ I wonder if anyone has ever requested that from them? I typically stick with the resources I trust most, but it would be interesting to browse my Logos library more. Some are worried about the future of Evernote, so it might be worth it to look into OneNote or even the Mac ‘Notes’ app, which has been re-worked recently.

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