I’ve been a part of a few different church staffs as both an intern and staff member. Some of the churches embraced technology and were on the forefront for the time and others struggled to come up with ways to use technology to make the staff more efficient and effective. Cloud based digital tools have incredible upsides for churches. They allow us to better communicate, collaborate, and overall be more effective at ministry. Here are some of my favorite tools, most of which are free!
I remember the days of being on a staff that only communicated by text message. It was ineffective, cumbersome, and it always seemed like somebody was getting left out. At my last church, I was able to implement Slack as a tool for our staff to stay in communication about ministry needs, planning, and the occasional staff fight (kidding, kinda).
Slack is team communication for the 21st century. It takes the best features of email, text messaging, and video calls, while leaving out all the spam. The free version allows you to have up to 10,000 searchable messages before needing to archive, as well as unlimited team members, and up to 10 service integrations like Google Drive and Trello.
You can set up different channels based on different topics such as Sunday mornings, kids and youth ministry, small groups, prayer requests, and even the annual pastor dance off (pics or it didn’t happen). Slack also gives you the ability to private message other members as well as set up group messaging. My favorite feature of slack is the ability to make voice and video calls directly from the app which eliminates the need for a separate service.
2. Google Apps for Nonprofits (G Suite)
While, I love Slack and do believe it will make your church staff much more efficient, email is still a much needed resource and Google is the undeniable email leader. Google Apps for Nonprofits gives 501(c)3 nonprofits access to Google’s entire G Suite for free. It’s an incredible program and even if it wasn’t free, I would still recommend it because the value far surpasses the cost.
Setting up your organization is relatively simple and gives you the ability to add unlimited staff members. In addition to getting free @yourdomain email, you also get access to Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, and free advertising credits. It may not be as glamorous as Slack or other tools, but it is still incredibly useful and will certainly help your staff.
3. Google Drive
I seriously don’t think I could do my job half as effectively without Google Drive. It is a life saver for me personally. I routinely work from my 15” MacBook Pro, my Windows 10 PC, and my iPhone. Thanks to tools like Google Drive, I’m able to pick up right where I left off when switching devices. It allows me to easily organize files without the need to constantly email files when they need to be shared. I love the ability to share a file with someone in just a couple of clicks.
If your church staff is already using Google Apps for Nonprofits, it makes using Google Drive even easier for your staff. You can easily share files and collaborate. Gone are the days of sending 5 different emails to figure out who has the correct bulletin file so that you can edit it while someone is on vacation.
This is my favorite new tool in my personal arsenal. I’ve used probably 20-25 different to-do lists and project management tools over the last couple of years and none of them seemed to be a good fit. I actually felt the same way when I first started using Trello, but after reading some use examples of other organizations I fell in love with the tool. Trello is great for both collaboration as well as personal workflows.
You can set up boards for assimilation, holiday planning, small groups, creative, staff wide to-do lists, and many more. My favorite thing about Trello is that it gives you a blank slate to mold to your organizations needs.
Here’s how I use Trello to organize this blog.
These are a great start to helping your staff be more effective, but there are hundreds of other tools available for churches as well. As church’s embrace technology, it will only help us to be more effective at ministry.