8 online tools that you can’t live without…
… Or, at the very least, you may find helpful
Have you often thought that there must be tools and programs available on the internet that will enhance ministry and assist with tasks that we often find tedious or perhaps insurmountable? Oh, and those same tools also must be low cost or, even better, free?
You’ll be heartened to know that for most things you need help with, there do indeed seem to be low cost or no cost options.
Want to teach young adults how they can engage with Scripture on a social media platform with their friends?
There’s an app for that.
Want to create Scripture memes and social media photos that engage?
There’s a free program to help you pretty up your social media or Facebook feed.
Want to produce videos on the fly but don’t have the money to buy premium programs?
There’s a no cost/ low cost program that can help you do this.
You get the idea. Seemingly if you have a need, the multi-layered web universe can meet it. We have scoured the corners of the web and found eight great programs and apps we feel pretty confident can help you out. Don’t mention it, it’s our pleasure…
This ‘reflective practice’ app is available to download for smartphones and android phones. It combines the best aspects of social media to create an online community of faith that shares everyday musings about the Bible. To learn more about the Parallel Bible, look out for the next edition of Insights magazine, where we will interview one of the minds behind it — Chris Breitenberg. In the meantime though, experience the app for yourself by downloading from iTunes or visiting the website.
GET PARALLEL BIBLE
Tired of bad church clipart? Explore the basics of graphic design at Canva, a free and easy-to-use online graphic design platform where you can create everything from bulletin covers to images for your own social media campaign.
A free (basic level) alternative that allows you to edit your video in the cloud from a web browser and export and save for later use. Most prefer this tool to iMovie, and it’s a great option for Windows, Chromebook, or Linux users. Note that you can only export five minutes of video per month with a free account but, for a small fee, you can go mad.
For the more advanced storytellers, an attractive option is screencast software, which allows you to record your own image as well as what’s happening on your computer screen. Although intended primarily for creating online tutorials, you can use it to record narrated slide presentations or ‘talking head’ messages paired with some kind of attractive background on screen.
Slack is an organisational tool that is great for small ministry teams. You can organise your team conversations in open channels, as well as make channels for projects, topics, teams, or anything — everyone has a transparent view of all that’s going on, at all times. You can also set up secure and direct messages for confidential matters. Price is not a barrier for small teams (it’s free). Need to review the Sunday bulletin? Start a bulletin-production channel where comments can be made. Need to talk about the implementation of church programs? Make a program section. General chatter? Done. Communications team? Done. Private groups to discuss random important matters? Done. Integration with Dropbox and EDM programs like MailChimp is also well managed. One issue to consider is buy-in. To make it an effective tool, Once you start using it, you need everyone to start using it with you.
Ever found that you’ve searched the web all day for resources or found an excellent resource article (like this one of course!) but don’t have time to read it. Save that great Key Resources article for later in the day with Pocket. Just click the button on the top of the browser and the article is saved for reading later on your computer, tablet, or your phone. It’s a great way to collect articles from Twitter or any material with a link. When you type “pocket” into your browser, it will direct you to the Chrome Store to download it as an extension in Chrome. Problem solved.
This excellent animation program is great for animating presentations and advertisin. Soon, it also will offer the ability to animate infographics. How is this possible? It has pre-loaded animations that you can adapt! Animaker is a simple way to create professional looking animations – you know, like those sophisticated ones you see on YouTube. This is a no-cost program that offers the opportunity to upgrade for a small fee. to enhance the number of graphics available to you.
Ever found yourself typing an email at midnight and then realising that perhaps sending it may not be the best idea? Boomerang for Gmail allows you to set a time for an email to be sent, whether it is in an hour or a month. And it allows you to look at an email now and then pop it to the top of your inbox in a few days, ensuring it does not get buried in the bottom. Again this is an extension to Google, so if you type “boomerang” into your Chrome browser you will be directed to download it from the Chrome store. Boomerang for Gmail will change your email experience forever. For real.
Adrian Drayton & Chris Hamby
Chris Hamby (@chris_hamby) is the digital producer at the Center for the Ministry of Teaching and an M.Div. senior at Virginia Theological Seminary.