I wrote a colum for the current issue of Group Magazine – if you don’t subscribe to the #1 youth ministry magazine yet you can subscribe by following this link. It is a feature on technology we’re using in our youth ministry. Might be a good takeaway for yours, too!
There’s a little bit of the geek in all of us–we all love things that make our lives and our ministries more effective and more efficient. So here are my top five “crushes” in the world of youth ministry technology:
#1 Poll Everywhere–Ever wished you could get instant feedback during a talk? Or ever wanted a cutting-edge way to fuel great interactions during youth group? Poll Everywhere is a tool that works from the Web or in PowerPoint–it displays poll results in real-time on your screen. Teenagers vote by text-message and the results appear on screen literally seconds later. It adds a whole new layer of interaction in your youth group–it’s brilliant and accessible technology. I wish they had an affiliate program, I send hundreds of people every day there from my blog–just go to polleverywhere.com.
#2 Duffled–Our ministry relies on text-messaging as our only dependable way of communicating with teenagers. On top of that we send out about a jillion text messages a month–and that’s where Duffled comes in. You can send and receive texts, make announcements, subscribe and unsubscribe from your phone, and operate using keywords. It has an easy Web interface and ties into your Twitter and Facebook accounts. It’s not cheap, since you pay by the message, but well worth the cost–go to duffled.com. One other excellent (and more affordable) option, by the way, is SimplyText from our pals at Simply Youth Ministry (go to simplyyouthministry.com/txt to check it out).
#3 LIVE Curriculum–This one may seem like a shameless plug since it was created by Group and Simply Youth Ministry–but it honestly isn’t. The only youth ministry curriculum we use is the Web-based LIVE curriculum because it’s simple and solid. And it’s pretty cheap once you get over the first year’s initiation cost. Go to simplyyouthministry.com.
#4 HighRiseHQ–HighriseHQ is a productivity tool created by the gang over at 37Signals–we use it to manage our volunteer leaders. Think of it as a place in the cloud where information about all of your contacts is stored. Depending on the size of your group it could even be a tool that manages everyone in your ministry world. Go to highrisehq.com. One note: Simply Youth Ministry just launched its Tools resource that includes a leader-management component that’s killer–we’re looking at it right now as a possible replacement for HighRiseHQ.
#5 Church Teams–This inexpensive tool helps us check in with small-group leaders. Every week the system sends out a message to each of the leaders asking them to report in their attendance, prayer requests, and other pertinent information we might need from them. It gives us a chance to spot trends in groups, troubleshoot problems, pray more effectively, and keep the communication lines wide open. Go to churchteams.com.