Top 10 Productivity Tools for Pastors

“Must be nice to work only one day a week, eh Pastor?”

This old chestnut may get a chuckle from parishioners, but if you lead a church, it’ll elicit a weak smile at best. You know the truth: pastors are busy all week.

It’s not just the amount of work; it’s the diversity of tasks you’re required to do. A pastor is a speaker, scholar, counselor, event planner, community leader, business manager, and conflict resolution specialist—all rolled into one.

Eugene Peterson has wisely warned against enshrining busyness as a ministry virtue. And, as Dallas Willard said, we must “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from our lives. Yet even after all the delegating and streamlining and boundary setting and ruthless eliminating, leading a church is still a big job. There’s just a lot to do. The tools below won’t make your ministry a breeze, but they should make it a little easier for you to breathe.

You’re listening to the radio and hear the perfect sermon illustration. You’re browsing the web and stumble upon an article you want to share with your staff. While watching your daughter’s soccer game, a quote pops into your mind. Each of these incidents illustrate why you need Evernote. It enables you to record and categorize content you come across or dream up. Quite simply the best note-taking app out there.

A Whiteboard
No, I’m not talking about some new, cool app ironically named “Whiteboard.” I’m talking about a literal, whiteboard. The kind with a stand and dry-erase makers. But don’t let the low-tech fool you. A whiteboard is still one of the best weapons in your arsenal. Whether you use it to outline a sermon, work through an idea, or explain one to others, few tools are handier. Plus, when someone walks into your office and sees a whiteboard covered in diagrams and big words, it makes you look smart.

Sermon Writing Toolkit
Avoid the Saturday night sermon scramble. Or—heaven forbid—the super early Sunday morning one. This tool breaks down sermon prep into discrete steps (“Choose Passage/Text … Formulate the Big Idea … Write Illustrations”) and spreads them evenly over the seven days of the week. You have to give Ministry Pass your email to get it and then suffer through some in-product ads, but it’s well worth it. Another tool from Ministry Pass is Sermon Calendar Template, which enables you to do long-term sermon planning. Again you’ll have to submit your email and put up with ads but hey, nothing is completely free. Even online.

Recently dubbed the “Email Killer” by Fast Company, this collaborative software allows teams to have real-time conversations in open or private channels or have individuals send direct messages to each other. Slack will reduce the number of meetings you need to have with your staff and likely chop your in-house emails in half. Particularly useful if you have off-site staff members. Slack likes to brag that NASA’s Mars Rover mission uses the software. Imagine how excited they’d be if they knew churches were using it, too.

Tomato Timer
Yes, this tool is as simple as it sounds: set a tomato timer and work till it dings. But people swear by “The Pomodoro Technique,” a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s. It involves breaking down work into 25-minute intervals and resting for short breaks between. And of course you can use a tomato timer (physical or virtual) to mark the intervals. Perfect for study and sermon prep.

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