My dad is a really wise man. One of his better lines is, "the right tool makes all the difference.” Whether we were building a fort, hanging drywall, or constructing VBS projects for mom he would always take the extra time to get, borrow, or buy the right tool for the job. My favorite part of these outings was learning about how many tools had similar looks but completely different uses.
Ministry is in many ways similar to my dad's wisdom. We need the right tools and sometimes we didn’t even know they were available (or affordable). So here is our weekly ministry tool spotlight.
Caveats: Not every one of these will be new to you or useful. No worries, sometimes tool-shopping is about remembering what is out there for later. Also, it takes time to adapt to new tools. If you have never used one of these tools before remember that adding or shaping your (or your team's workflow) takes time, practice, and routine.
Okay so probably everyone has heard about Dropbox , the cloud-based storage app that makes syncing across multiple platforms and devices seamless. But have you really implemented it into the workflow of your youth ministry? Listed below are some kick-starter uses for Dropbox in youth ministry.
1. Build Your Leadership Team Together
Don’t just download it for you but invite everyone on your team. Make sure that every adult leader in your ministry is using the free version. Refer them and get extra space for you! Make part of your recruitment process for leaders an onboarding for downloading and installing Dropbox. When your group is on board with Dropbox, you can set up a folder that everyone can access and sync to, and they won’t be able to see or access your other Dropbox folders. It’s like having your own in-house file server. (If you are a Pro user you can actually setup a secondary folder system that can be named with your youth ministry name).
2. Organize Yourself and Your Volunteer Leaders
We have all had that Saturday night text. “Hey youth pastor, I can’t find my lesson can you resend it to me please!” and even if this means you have to open your computer it can be one step too exhausting. Well with several new mobile features from Dropbox iOS you can really make your phone/tablet office on the go. Get parents to sign forms, share group photos amongst leaders, or distribute small group leader packets from your pocket.
3. Have Your Resources At the Ready!
Create your own cloud-based resource library. Youth ministers always need to have some games, videos, teaching guides, icebreakers, and music at the ready. Don’t save these important resources to your desktop or thumb-drive, save them to your Dropbox and have them ready to go no matter what. What’s more portable than your laptop? Dropbox of course! I love having my videos loaded and ready so that even if the church wi-fi tanks, I can still access that important teaching video via my iPhone and video adapter.
3. Backup! Backup! Backup!
When you sign up you get 2GB of space to use or you can refer to get more or straight up buy more. No matter what you will want to have a backup of important ministry related documents. If you work at a church like I have worked at, you know that church computing machines are not always the most speedy or reliable so it is nice to make sure all those sermon and slides you have spent some much time developing will outlive your fossil machine.
4. Keep Public Things Public
Keep an open folder and share a link with parents for all things schedule, reminders, and forms. It is easier to keep “pushing” a single link than multiple forms or documents. Camp sign up form? Check. Summer schedule PDF? Check. Next year’s teaching schedule? Check. Yes, they are all in the public folder Ms. Mom!
5. Make Ministry Meetings More Collaborative
This is a relatively new feature and we are still learning it, but what we have learned we are loving. The Dropbox Paper feature finally brings collaborative document creation to our favorite cloud-based storage app and it looks great. Moreover, it further implements the importance of your whole team getting on board with using Dropbox if it also is incorporated into your meetings.
Thanks for all of your hard work youth ministers. Get to work, Get to sharing! -zw