Category Archives: resources

Best (Free) Droid Apps for Youth Ministers

Android phones may not have as many apps as the iPhone has, but you don’t need that many when you have quality ones. There are many great apps that will benefit you and your youth ministry, and the ones I’m going to suggest don’t cost anything!

Here are some great, free, apps that will benefit you and your ministry.

Barcode Scanner

Ministry Helps:
Barcode Scanner
This little app is helpful in a couple ways. First, you can scan a book, DVD, or other product and look up its price. When shopping for a youth ministry with a limited budget, this will be very helpful. The other benefit of this app is that you can use it to scan QR codes which can be used to download other apps, contact info, and calendar events. (Use this app in combination with Shopper to find more price information)


There are plenty of Bible apps to get from the Android Market. My suggestion is that you download YouVersion by If you have YouVersion on your desktop, you can sync your reading plan and notes with your phone. This app gives you the ability to find a Scripture quickly, read the Bible when you have a few minutes, or follow along with the sermon when you accidentally leave your Bible in your office.


Dropbox allows you to have access to all of your files (at least the ones you put in your dropbox) while on the go. Put your message notes, list of students going on a trip, or pictures from the past year in your dropbox folder and you have access to them whenever you want, even if you are not in front of your computer.

This app has been recently updated, with some significant improvements. As a youth minister, you will be able to use this app to post updates from your youth trip, comment on students’ pages or quickly update pictures for those not on the trip to view.

*Messaging (already on phone)
Since you have a smart phone that has the ability to use apps, I’m going to assume you have some sort of texting plan. And so do your students and parents – so use this feature. Mine is on the home page because I want to be able to easily access it, so should you.

Google Shopper

Google Shopper

This might seem like a strange app to include on the list, but I have found it to be an invaluable app to have. The ability to scan (works with Barcode Scanner) an item’s UPC and then compare prices, online and in stores, to see what other local stores carry the item will save you time and money. You do not have to drive around looking for the best price or spend hours searching through the internet. Trust me, this app will be worth the price you paid (free) for it and more.


Having this app on your phone can make connecting to youth workers (or the occasional student who actually has a Twitter account) even easier. You can update without sending a text, you can take a picture or video with your phone and then update it to Twitter. During a ministry trip or while at a convention, set up your account to send you notices with specific mentions or from certain people.

Voice Recorder

Voice Recorder
This is great app for turning your phone into a digital recorder. You can use it to practice a message, remember something you want to write down but don’t have paper, or to record your family talking to you while you are gone on a trip. With the ability to send the recording to your computer via email, this is a much cheaper option than a digital recorder.

Youth Ministry Conventions (YSEvents & SYMC2011)

SYMC 2011

If you are going to the National Youth Workers Convention or Simply Youth Ministry Convention, these are must apps. The apps gives you the list of artists and speakers, the schedule, and the YS app gives you access to local info on each city and the ability to watch a life stream for the big room. Or if you are a fan of youth ministry but can’t make it to the conventions, these will give you access into the world of the convention.

Panic/Stress Minimizers:
*Calendar (already on phone)
This the app for Google calendar, which I did not use at all until I got my Droid. Since I have the ability to sync my phone with my desktop, this app allows me to keep much better track of where I need to be and what I should be doing. Plus, the ability to set up reminders (via email or notification) gives me another avenue to reduce the chance I’ll forget to meet a student for lunch.

Grocery IQ

Grocery IQ
Shopping for the high school cookout, but can’t remember how many hot dogs were left after last year? Use Grocery IQ to help make the shopping list and make comments on “actual use” from event to event. This app will also help you keep track of how much you are spending, too. Use with barcode scanner and Google voice to make adding items easier/faster.

Making a house call to that seventh grader, but can’t find his house? Maps, especially using the Navigation feature, will help you find anyplace you are looking for. Not only can you use your phone as a GPS, you will also get “Places” which allows you to search for stores or particular locations based on your location. So when you are on that summer trip and realize the van’s gas gauge isn’t working right anymore, you can find the nearest gas station. *Bonus Use* Make a widget that will always give you directions back to your house, the church, or anywhere else you want.

Trip Master

Trip Master
Need to track your mileage for tax reasons or to turn in for reimbursement, but struggle to always right it down. Trip master can help. You can track your mileage using GPS or by entering your odometer reading (manually or voice). When you need this information, you can export either via email or the SD card.

Weather Channel

*Weather Channel
Is it gonna snow? Will we get drenched with rain? Will it be hot enough to go swimming? I’m sure every youth worker has asked these three questions and many more. Planning events is hard enough, then you add in the weather and it is down-right impossible to know what to do. With this app, you can have instant access to the latest weather from, including the radar map. I use this app at least 5 times a day.


Have a few minutes to wait:
A great way to either waste a few minutes or listen to some new music. If you know what Pandora is, then you know why you need this app on your phone. If you haven’t used the website yet, go ahead and try it out. You might even want to use this app to help introduce your students to new music.


This is basically a smartboard on your phone (well, minus the ability to write to it from your computer). You can use this app to draw quick diagrams or sketches. You can also write small notes, like a student’s birthday. You can save whatever you write as a .jpg then you can send it to yourself or even use it as your desktop background.


Just for Fun:
Bubble (a bubble level)
This app does exactly what you would think it does – it tells you when something is level. Use Bubble when decorating your youth area or office. Plus, if you want to play one of those “Minute to Win It” games that involves a rolling ping pong balls and paper clips, this app will help you get the right angle.

Traffic Jam

Traffic Jam
This is a fun game that will help take your mind off of ministry for just a few minutes. The goal is to get the yellow cab through the traffic to the exit. The levels start out easy and get more difficult as you go.



This Boggle-type game lets you select the words by highlighting them with your finger. Its easy to play, plus you can quit at any time and start back right where you left off.




If you are a blogger, and use WordPress, you will want to include this app on your phone. You can check comments and stats. You can modify posts or write whole new ones.



Angry Birds

Three more apps I probably need to at least mention: GMail, MyVerizon, and Angry Birds

Within each category, the Apps are simply placed alphabetically, not in order of most useful. Apps with an (*) before them are ones I use enough, they are on my home screen.

Book Review: Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index

Thomas Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about the Bible. From its simplistic format to its rather extensive amount of information, you will find many positives in this $20 reference book. Unlike some Biblical reference books I have on my shelf, this book is smaller than a DVD case (it is much thicker, though).

The cover claims this is the “best Bible subject index ever” and it is difficult for me to argue with that. Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index contains more than 8,000 subjects (names, places, things, concepts, events, and doctrines). On top of this vast collection of subjects, with sub-headings and a limited number of references, you will find 300 word studies. Each word study gives you the Hebrew or Greek word, a good definition, several references and the Strong’s number for that word – so you can do further study if you want.

This little book is great for anyone wanting to learn more about the Bible; from teachers to students. Nelson’s Biblical Cyclopedic Index will make a great first purchase when you begin gathering resources for deeper Bible study.

**I reviewed this book as part of the BookSneeze review program**

My advice (rating) – buy more than one and give out copies (5 out of 5)

DVD Review: Adventures in Booga Booga Land

(What follows is a review of a DVD that you might be interested in using within your children’s ministry, because it is a cartoon whose stories are based on Jesus’ parables)

Marty (a monkey) and Gerard (a giraffe) are best friends and live in Booga Booga Land. The adventures they get into are all based on Jesus’ parables, which makes this DVD more appealing to parents who want their kids to be exposed to the truth of the Bible. This particular collection has three episodes, based on the workers in the vineyard, the wise and foolish builders, and the lamp under the bowl.

I had high hopes that this would be a great DVD to use both at home and at church. And as I watched it with my children, I was surprised to see that they enjoyed it. We all laughed during the episodes, though the kids laughed at more parts than I did. In fact, they even asked to watch it again. So I can say, as a parent, that this is a DVD your children will probably enjoy. But, in terms of the connection to the parables I felt that it was either a stretch or not there at all. It was definitely a new and creative method of teaching on the parables.

I would not recommend buying this DVD, but if you can borrow it you should.

**I reviewed this book as part of the BookSneeze review program** – A Few Thoughts

I started using a few months back because I am constantly trying to find new ways to stay organized. Overall, I really like it and think it would benefit other youth workers. Here are some positives and negatives of TeuxDeux:

1. Simple.
You see five days across the screen, with the ability to scroll forward or backward one day at a time. There is no extra clutter or ads on the page. <- I really like this aspect. 2. Easy to use.
When you want to add an item to your to-do list, simply type it in on the day you want to accomplish it. It will then be added to the list of items for that day. When you finish the task, you simply click on it and it gets crossed off.

3. Ability to add “someday” items.
At the bottom of the page, you can add items to a list of “someday” things you want to do. This is great for adding items that may not need to be done for months or for making a list of ideas or possibilities.

4. Mobile apps in the works.
According to the FAQ’s, there is a mobile app in the works for iPhone and possibly Blackberry. This would make TeuxDeux a better solution for those who are not close to a computer throughout the day.

1. Recurring items.
There is no simple way to add recurring items without manually retyping them into each new day.

2. Only move one day at a time.
Right now, you can only move one day forward and backward, at a time. According to the FAQ’s, there is supposed to be a forthcoming feature allowing the ability to jump to a farther off date more quickly. But until that release, you must simply live in the week or sluggishly click one day at a time.

If you need a way to track what needs to be done, I suggest you try out It’s free and easy to use. But if you are still not sure, check out this video:

TeuxDeux Demo from TeuxDeux on Vimeo.

Every Youth Worker Needs: a book genre reading list (or part 2)

(Youth ministry is not an easy ministry. And in this series, Every Youth Worker Needs:…, I want to highlight a variety of things that might make your ministry a little easier. This ongoing series will include ministry tips, book suggestions, technology helps, and many other nuggets of advice.)

Yesterday I said that every youth worker needed to read a variety of literature. Today, I am offering my list of suggested genres that every youth worker should consider reading. Included with each genre is a list of good books that I have read, in case you need something more specific, to help you get started.

1. Leadership
Visioneering by Andy Stanley
Fish by Lundin, Paul, Christensen
The Generosity Factor by Ken Blanchard and Truett Cathy
Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley
Mazimizing Your Effectiveness by Aubrey Malphurs
The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
The Dip by Seth Godin

2. General Ministry
Church Staff Handbook by Harold Westing
One Size Doesn’t Fit All by Gary McIntosh
Multiple Staff and the Larger Church by Lyle Schaller
In the Name of Jesus by Henri Nouwen

3. Youth Ministry
Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries (my review)
Purpose Driven Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
Junior High Ministry by Wayne Rice
Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry by Doug Fields
Hurt by Chap Clark

4. Fiction/Classics
The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy (looks at death & dying)
Blink by Ted Dekker
Bleachers by John Grisham
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Hadden

5. Theology/Biblical Study
Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics by Walter Kaiser and Moises Silva
60-Second Guide to Denominations by Shelly Steig
Simply Christian by N.T. Wright (my review)
Called to Worship by Vernon Whaley (my review)
Hidden Worldviews by Steve Wilkens and Mark Sanford

6. Christian Living
Unquenchable Worshipper by Matt Redman
Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald
Messy Spirituality by Mike Yaconell
Soul Survivor by Mike Pilavachi
Restoring Margin to Overloaded Lives by Richard Swenson & Karen Lee-Thorp

7. Books that make you think
Addiction and Grace by Gerald May
flashBANG by Mark Steele
Me, Myself, and Bob by Phil Vischer (my review)
free refill by Mark Atteberry
Culture Making by Andy Crouch (my review)
Signature Sins by Michael Mangis

8. Humor
– since we all laugh at different things, I’m going to let you find your own books that cause you to chuckle. But you do need to make sure you include this into your reading rotation.

If you need any other ideas, you can find some while browsing through the book reviews from this blog.

(Every Youth Worker Needs: A Blog Series About Things You Need in Youth Ministry)

"Minute to Win It" – youth ministry game resource

Over the last few weeks, I have watched previews for NBC’s new shows. One show in particular caught my attention (and the attention of the rest of the youth ministry world) “Minute to Win It.” Basically, contestants have one minute to complete a game using simple household items. If they complete ten games, then they win 1 million dollars. As I watched the commercials, I kept seeing games I have played with my youth groups. One is the “shrinking grocery bag” game (where the bag keeps getting shorter and shorter and you have to pick it up with your teeth.) I like the single player version better than the way I played. At a 30 Hour Famine we played where you went around a circle and everyone tried to pick it up. My version is not nearly as sanitary as the games version.

If you have not heard of “Minute to Win It” you need to check it out. It’s on Sunday nights at 7 central. You also need to check out the website for the game. Up until a few days ago, I knew about the game, but I had not realized that the show’s website would be a great help to youth workers until I read Youth Ministry Geek’s post. You need to go check out the game vault and use a game or two.

Before I hit “publish” I feel I need to offer this word of warning to youth workers everywhere. Please do not saturate the youth ministry world with an abundance of “Minute to Win It” games or retreats or evangelism events. These games will be a great addition to your events, but DO NOT overdue it. I saw it happen with youth ministry versions of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (and many other pop culture things) and students get tired of it.

Remember that moderation is a good thing.

One last comment (question). I know there will be a t-shirt soon based on “Minute to Win It,” but I just can’t figure out what it will say. Do you have any thoughts?

Every Youth Worker Needs: a receipt scanner

(Youth ministry is not an easy ministry. And in this series, Every Youth Worker Needs:…, I want to highlight a variety of things that might make your ministry a little easier. This ongoing series will include ministry tips, book suggestions, technology helps, and many other nuggets of advice.)

Every Youth Worker Needs: a receipt scanner
Unless you work in a very unique congregation, you have to turn in receipts in order to get reimbursed. This administrative task is always time consuming and boring. Not the reason you became a youth minister at all. But we all know that if we do not do this on a regular basis, monthly at least, then it becomes too overwhelming and then it does not get done. At the end of this train of thought is no reimbursements for items purchased (or what we ministers like to call “donations to the ministry”).

I have recently come across a great little gadget that makes the process of organizing and totaling receipts much simpler. At least that is what the internet and “gift buying” news segment says. As I have watched this product in action and have seen the software to organize the items on the receipts, I have to say I am impressed.

All you have to do is slide the receipt through the scanner, if you have the travel version – which is cheaper and probably all a youth worker needs. Then after all of the receipts are scanned, you go into the program and determine which items go under which categories and which items do not need to be added to the report. Once this is done, you just print off the report and turn it in to the finance committee. (Who will probably be in amazement that a youth worker is so organized and uses spreadsheets.)

Go to this website to see the receipt scanner by neat

(I do not own one of these time saving devices, so consider it on the list of things you can get me if ever you want to get me something.)

Best of ’09: Youth Ministry Books

The year 2009 A.D. is almost over. The past 12 months have brought with them many new things; some good, some bad, and some not worth mentioning. I would like to take some time and highlight some of my favorite parts of 2009. I will call this list the “best of ’09” – which simply means that, in my opinion, these are the best items in a certain category. I fully expect you to disagree with some of my choices or to be upset I did not add other items to the list. If you feel this way, please add your “best of ’09” ideas in the comments.

The second list will be youth ministry books. These are the best youth ministry related books I read this year. They may not all be new in 2009, but this was the year I got around to reading them. This list is in no particular order and will not include every good book I read this year, just a list of my top reads – the ones I found most helpful.

Youth Ministry 3.0
by Mark Oestreicher – I picked up this book in 2008, but did not actually get around to reading it until early this year. Oestreicher writes about many of the struggles and thoughts felt by many youth workers around the country. Whether you agree with everything int he book (and you won’t), you need to read it and be challenged to see youth ministry from a different angle. Here is my review of Youth Ministry 3.0.

Help! I’m a Frustrated Youth Worker! by Steve Case – This book is small and easy to read. Most youth workers will relate to the frustrations Case writes about. I recommend reading this book, even if you only need a reminder that your situation is not “that bad.” Here is my review of Help! I’m a Frustrated Youth Worker.

Sustainable Youth Ministry by Mark Devries – Every youth worker wants to be part of a youth ministry that is sustainable. Devries knows a few things about sustainable youth ministries – he has been working with youth ministries across the country for years. This book is a must read for anyone working in a youth ministry of any size and shape. Here is my review of Sustainable Youth Ministry.

Speaking to Teenagers by Doug Fields and Duffy Robbins – Doug and Duffy have written a great resource for anyone who speaks to teenagers. This book is packed with useful information and helpful tips. Here is my review of Speaking to Teenagers.

99 Thoughts for Youth Workers by Josh Griffin – This little book has a lot of great thoughts inside. Josh collected his thoughts on youth ministry, which were written in journals, on napkins (I’m guessing a few of these were once on a napkin), and from his blog. This is especially useful if you are new to youth ministry or feel like you are stuck in a rut. Here is my review of 99 Thoughts for Youth Workers.

The New Breed by Jonathan McKee and Thomas McKee – I’m actually only 2/3 of the way through this book, but so far I think it is a great read. Every youth worker, who works with volunteers, needs to read this book and apply the principles.

As you can see, I spent a lot of time this year catching up on youth ministry books that I had not read. Expect to see some 2009 releases in the 2010 “best of” list, as I am sure I’ll get them read by then.

What youth ministry books would you add to this list? (or what books should I add to my 2010 reading list?)

Other posts in this series:
Best of ’09 – Music
Best of ’09 – Youth Ministry Books
Best of ’09 – Non-Ministry Books
Best of ’09 – Websites used
Best of ’09 – Blog posts
Best of ’09 – Web Apps
Best of ’09 – Ministry Moments
Best of ’09 – Random Favorites

Budgeting & Saving Money – 2 YM Today articles

A lot of ministries are either in the process of putting together their budgets for next year or they are in the process of tweaking the budget that got turned down by the finance committee. If you find yourself in one of those two places, I hope you will be able to benefit from some information I wrote earlier this year.

The great folks at YMToday took my youth ministry budgeting series and turned the information into two separate articles. If you would like to read the original series, just click on the link and read each blog post in the series. Or you can read the articles, which are broken down into budgeting and saving money.

Saving the Ministry Money

Creating a Budget

After reading the articles, I would like to hear what you think. What have you done to budget for the upcoming year? Is it dramatically different this year due to the economy? How have you saved money?

Learned from Twitter: week ending Oct. 17, 2009

(multiple week edition)

Below are some tweets, from the last few weeks, that have caught my attention.

1. nickarnold (Nick Arnold) released a free ebook on connecting with students apart from the four walls at your church. You should check it out if you have not already. (I did add some insight/thoughts to the book, but don’t let that stop you from looking at it)

free eBook full of ideas for youth leaders and volunteers to develop relationships with students, would love an RT 🙂

2. YMX (Youth Ministry Exchange) asked for some help for an exchange student. (Don’t know if they still need it, but if you can help – get a hold of them or let me know and I’ll contact them)

HELP! Exchange student arrived with exactly 5 shirts! Have a size M guys t-shirt (maybe from a past event) he could have? @ for info

3. lovesmesomeyou (Andrew Marin) let us know that his book is available on Kindle. That’s awesome. Oh, and you should check it out.

RT @likewise_books Love Is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community, is now available on Kindle!

4. outsideallday (Andy Brazelton) linked to a free online version of Group magazine. You need to take advantage of this and go learn (ie. click the link…).

Miss the last issue of Group Magazine? Thanks to @crd55 and @zafdaddy you can check it out for free online:

5. pastorbuhro (Brad Buhro) wants to add to the number of meals that Pizza Hut will donate. I don’t know how long this lasts, but it wouldn’t hurt to try and help.

RT @pizzahut:We will donate 4 meals to World Hunger Relief 4 each person who RTs this: #pizzahut (More:

6. MarkMatlock (Mark Matlock) asks a good question. Do you have any thoughts?

The question many in their 20’s (and 30’s) are asking: How do I become an adult? What do you suggest?

7. nywc (National Youth Worker’s Convention) is coming to Cincinnati the end of this month. They want to know if there is anything weird to do there – someone has to have an idea. I’d love to hear them (and I’ll pass them on).

We’re looking for weird things to do in Cincy. Got ideas? Share your link!

What did you learn from Twitter over the last few weeks?