Mobile tools for students, scholars, and pastors.
Last Updated: Jul 5, 2012
- Choosing a handheld
- Suggested apps for ministry
- Suggested study apps
Having handheld access to your email and social networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter will increase your connectivity with your congregation. This can be empowering, and yet carries the danger of impinging on your personal time. Be conscious of how your mobile device may decrease your personal space and time. Just because the device is “always on” doesn’t mean that you have to be always available; these devices have “off” switches for a reason.
Your choice of device will be affected by several factors:
- Service providers in your area
- Amount you want to pay
- Hardware limitations
- Coolness factor (ok, not really, but...)
Review of smartphones at CNET.
Your choice of service provider determines hardware and coverage.
- Some devices are exclusive to certain prvoiders, e.g., iPhone only at AT&T and Verizon
- Voice and data network coverage varies:
- Check the provider's online coverage map
- Search web reports like
- Ask your friends and neighbors
Consider cost of initial purchase and monthly data plan.
- Subsidized prices require a two-year contract
- Non-subsidized prices can be many hundreds of dollars more.
- Internet data plans often an add-on to phone plan
Can your fingers operate the device's mobile keypad comfortably?
- On-screen virtual keyboard
- Small hardware keypad and/or selection tool
- Try out various options at phone store
Can you work with a smaller screen for your particular needs?
- Your intended usage - email, web, texting, etc.
- Not the best place to write sermons or edit pictures!!
- Try before you buy
- Investigate the ease of changing font sizes and other visual accessibility features
Instructions for mobile devices
As a pastor, I like my iPhone and its various apps, and some of them are actually beneficial to ministry. Google, with Gmail, calendaring, and tasks, are all greatly helpful; I can immediately access my calendar and email from anywhere (as opposed to the old days when I had to physically sync my Palm Pilot to Outlook). My Administrative Assistant and Associate Pastor (or anyone I want) can also view my calendar. I also like the voice recognition feature in Google’s iPhone app. I have used Google Docs to work cooperatively with others regardless if we are in the same room. I have MobileMe account with Apple, for sharing and transferring larger files.
I use the Voice Memo App to record short reminders of sermon illustration ideas, or people's names, or anything else that I would be prone to forget. I frequently use the iPhone Maps app to get directions to parishioners homes or restaurants where I might be meeting someone. I have a couple of apps that are versions of the Bible, and I actually read from my iPhone at the Easter Sunrise service because I could see it in the dark. Our worship team uses a website called Planning Center Online (also an iPhone app) to coordinate our worship planning. Free Wi-Fi Finder has been a very useful app, as I like to work in coffee shops and other places. Even an app like Shazam has been useful, if I hear a song that I would like to use in a sermon or teaching.
Facebook has generally been a good thing as there are a great number of church members that I am Facebook friends with. It was kind of fun to have a running Twitter conversation with some of my friends at Conference last summer.
I hear people say they don't like to be constantly connected to email or phone. I have found it to be a big time saver, as I can check and respond to email when I have a few moments here and there throughout the day.
The slippery slope of always being connected is to not be connected with the person sitting across the table from me because I am responding to a text or answering the phone. I have had to learn to just put the phone down. Sometimes I will even leave it in the car or at my desk so that it will not be a temptation. I always want mobile technology to be something that enhances my ministry and helps me connect with people.
—Dave Benson, UMC pastor