Many youth ministers have bought into the iOS ecosystem, either through iPhones, iPads, or iPods. I am an Apple guy. I love their products. I’ve been a loyal iPhone user since the 3g came out, and hope to be able to afford the next iPhone (5? 6? Simply “the new iphone?).
What makes iOS devices really soar is the tremendous apps available. What can be difficult is sorting through the sheer volume to find the quality ones that will benefit you and your ministry. So, for the past few years, I’ve been posting on the best apps I’ve found that help in my ministry. These are only the ones I use in ministry – so no games here. Also, most of these are free. If it costs money, you can be sure that it is worth it because I am very cheap.
Flipboard is the gold standard of news apps. If you’re looking for a great app to keep on top of your news, blogs, even Facebook and twitter posts, this is the one you want. The key feature of course is the “flip” where you use your finger to flip thru the stories. Great use of the touchscreen interface.
While iOS6 is supposed to bring turn by turn voice navigation to the iPhone, its not here yet and it won’t come to any device before the iPhone 4S. Maquest is a great free app that gives you great voice turn by turn navigation. I’ve used it a lot and have had very few problems finding my way.
Formerly PLACES, this app taps into Google Places online to find you anything you’re looking for nearby. Want to find a gas station or restaurant while on a trip with the teens? This app can find them all, plus give you reviews and directions. I use it all the time, especially on those long trips.
There are a lot of “Cloud” options out there, and your first thought is likely not “I’ll choose Microsoft.” But through their Skydrive service, they have one of the best out there. Skydrive is a must if you are hooked into the Microsoft Office ecosystem, because you can save files directly from Word or Powerpoint to Skydrive. You also get 7 GB of free storage. Its more a cloud repository for your Office documents than a true dropbox competitor (although it does provide the same functionality). If you have a document editing app on your iOS device (such as Docs2Go) you can also edit your files from the cloud as well.
Facebook Suite of Apps
I probably don’t have to convince you to get the Facebook app – as buggy as it is, its practically a must have. The other 3 apps are newer, and allow you to tap into more specific Facebook features. Messages connects you with the Chat/Message feature. For many this could replace text messaging. The Pages app allows you to work with any Fan Pages you might have. If your church or youth group has one, this makes it much easier to deal with them. Finally, the Camera app is an Instagram-like camera that allows you to apply filters and all that fun stuff. The real value in this app, though, is that it allows you to batch upload pictures, so no more uploading one at a time.
Evernote really is a powerful note taking app. With the desktop version, this can easily become your mobile work station. I use it to help organize my lessons, brainstorm ideas, record random thoughts, save game ideas, and all sorts of other things. It is an absolutely essential app to have.
The stock camera app is good. There are lots of other gimmicky photo apps that do some of what Camera+ does. But this app is a must have if you take lots of pictures. It has great filters, photo correcting tools, and so much more.
You probably have Instagram. If you don’t, its a fun app to make photos both fun and social. It won’t revolutionize your life or your ministry, but its fun.
Spotify is a music service that allows you to have instant access to millions of songs. Nearly every song you might want to listen to is on Spotify, and its not like Pandora where you select a “genre” – you can pick specific songs or artists. To use the app, you need to pay a $10 subscription, but it is more than worth it when you’re in the middle of a long trip and the teens have almost broken you to listening to Justin Beiber. Just fire this baby up and find some good music!
Simply the best iOS bible. They have every version imaginable, quick and easy search, and even reading plans to help you dive into scripture. There are some social features as well that I’ve not really explored, but they could easily be useful if you have a youth group with several YouVersion users.
The stock iOS calendar app is good, but this one is better. Its much easier to create events, view events, and look at different periods of time. You can link these to your calendars you’ve already got, so it doesn’t even give you any extra work.
A “simple” youth ministry app, but a good one. This provides you with access to all the articles from Youthministry.com and all of the podcasts from the SYM Show. Its great for quickly being able to get some good youth ministry ideas.
We are living in society where more and more people are going cashless. I never have cash or checks on me, just credit cards.If your congregation is like that, this app could be a big help. They send you (for free) a little attachment that allows you to scan credit cards and puts the payment amount in your (or your church’s) bank account. Simple and easy. They do charge a slight fee per transaction, but its worth it for the ease of use.
This is a simple and easy app to help you keep track of your students’ attendance. It is made for teachers in the classroom but is easily transferred to what we do, it makes is very easy to track attendance.
I have a lot of task management apps. This is more than that. It follows the Covey method of task management, and is a great way to keep on top of what is important, rather than sidetracked by busy work.
IMovie is the best app for editing your video quickly and easily. Its no substitute for a full fledged desktop software, but its great for throwing together some footage for a camp or retreat to have something to show. You can do all of the basic editing that you can with a computer software, and its all on your phone.
These are the ones I use very regularly. I could recommend others such as Google Voice, Skype, Docs2Go, Springpad, Producteev, Dropbox, Animoto, Kindle, Pandora, etc but these ones I listed above are the core ones of my ministry work. So, what apps do you use on a regular basis that I didn’t?