Everyone wants to achieve a level of productivity in ministry. Recently the Theotek podcast covered this subject with 6 tips for ministry productivity. We didn’t cover things like use To-Do lists or the best calendar apps. That’s easy to find other places. Instead, we focused on ways to make yourself more productive in ministry. These are for pastors or others serving the church on staff, as a volunteer, or in an organization that supports the church as a para-church organization.
Our 6 Tips for Productivity in Ministry comes from the latest Theotek podcast episode of the same name. Kevin Purcell and Rick Mansfield share 3 tips each to help make you more productive.
Always Have a Backup Plan
Rick Mansfield told us a story of how he used the Kobayashi Maru scene from Star Trek to cheat the system when a professor tried to test his preparedness while he was presenting in a class during his college years.
If you’re using technology in ministry, ask yourselves, “What if the technology doesn’t work?” Pastors need to create a backup plan. When might this apply?
When you’re preaching from your iPad or another tablet, have a paper copy of the sermon notes.
If you plan to teach using a visual presentation, make handouts if the tech doesn’t work.
While driving to a new location, use GPS on your phone. How will you get to where you’re going?
Productivity in Ministry Using Bible Software
Use your Bible software’s research tools to quickly search for all the content related to your preaching passage. Here’s what that means in the top Bible software research programs.
Accordance – Info Pane shows your passage in your Commentaries, Topics lists, Word lists that you can search, Study Bibles, your own tools that you create and then define.
Logos – Guides that search your whole library or parts of your library depending on the guide you’re using, like the Exegetical Guide (Greek and Hebrew tools) or the Passage Guide (varied tools that help you study a passage).
Olive Tree – Resource Guide finds content for the current verse displayed in the Bible window in all of your various library tools like commentaries, Bibles, topic lists, and more.
e-Sword – 4-pane view that shows your passage in all translations, all your commentaries, dictionaries, and notes all in tabs to show every book installed.
If your preferred Bible software isn’t listed above, search your help features or comment below, and we’ll try to help you find the equivalent feature in your preferred Bible software.
Learn Your Professional Tools Like a Pro
Rick shared that pastors and ministers should learn to use their professional tools like a professional. For example, if you’re a preacher and you use Bible software, then take advantage of the high-quality training available for free from companies like Accordance, Logos, and Olive Tree.
Accordance offers excellent live webinars, and if you participate, you’ll also get some discounts on new books or resources.
Accordance also has what they call eAcademies, which show practical ways to use Accordance Bible software in topics related to the software. For example, they offered an academy called “Hebrew Fundamentals: The Participle” in May 2021. You can still find these online.
Accordance Tutorials Feature built into the software shows you how to do things from beginner to advanced options.
e-Sword has a Training page on their website. And they let you download them so you don’t need to maintain an Internet connection to view their training.
Logos has a support site too, and it includes Logos Training, which shows you how to use all the features with videos.
Morris Proctor is the official trainer of Logos and he hosts live camps where users can get a crash course in using Logos. He also offers a subscription site called MP Seminars, which costs $20/month, and you can watch all of his training videos. If you would like to know more about this service, check out my review.
Olive Tree doesn’t offer as many avenues for training. You can take a look at their Help site.
PocketBible from Laridian has some online help at their FAQ site.
Do you use church management software? Maybe you don’t have to maintain it or work with it, but you should still understand all it can do. Go to your company’s website and find some training to familiarize yourself with the basic functions. Add to that your worship presentation tool.
Don’t forget that you don’t just use Bible, church, or worship software. We recommend two other useful sites for more common software, like your computer’s operating system, creative editing and creation software, and your office suite. First, YouTube is free. You can probably find some videos teaching you how to use your software. Second, take a look at LinkedIn Learning. It used to be called Lynda Learning, named after the founder. They host extensive, professional videos on using all kinds of tools like Adobe products, Microsoft products, and more. It cost about $30/month.
Remember the 4th Commandment
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Few pastors or ministers would consider killing someone or having an affair. They’d be embarrassed to learn that someone discovered they lied or lusted or coveted their neighbor’s wife. We would never admit idolizing any other thing as a god. However, we seem to brag about working too hard and neglecting the 4th commandment.
We pastors and ministers almost brag about neglecting weekly rest, relaxation, and recharging as the 4th commandment intended. God rested to remind us we need it. So rest regularly. Unplug and disconnect from anything that gives you stress.
How can tech helps us keep the 4th commandment? First, don’t answer your phone or text messages unless they are immediate emergencies. In other words, when a member is on a deathbed, you probably need to jump into ministry mode. For example, suppose the youth room has a toilet leaking. You might need to rush to the church building. However, if a member wants to complain, they can complain in your office on Monday afternoon or after the midweek prayer time. So, use your phone to schedule meetings and set reminders.
Use your phone or tablet to find ways to schedule or plan vacations or weekend day trips on Saturday or on Monday.
Can you think of other ways that tech will help you rest, relax, and recharge weekly? Let us know in the comments below.
When Possible Don’t Let Tech Replace In-person Ministry
People who enjoy or love technology let it replace face-to-face ministry. For example, during Covid, we had to separate and use Zoom for meetings or make calls instead of visit people in their homes or at the hospital.
Now that most of the Covid restrictions are living, we should try to minister in person. Don’t let tech replace personal interactions.
Find Extra Time During Time-Wasting Activities
This sounds crazy, but you waste a lot of time that robs you of productivity in ministry like…
Waiting in the car to pick up the kids
Driving down the road
Waiting for someone to arrive at a meeting
Sitting alone at lunch, breakfast, supper, or snack time
You get the idea. Use these times for more than checking email, Twitter, or Facebook. Always have your phone ready to open to a book or your current preaching passage. Take five minutes to do some word studies. Highlight, take notes, clip content, or copy/paste to a note document so you can later find the research.
You can also listen to books from Audible or even audiobooks in Bible apps. I seldom turn on my radio in the car. Instead, I hooked my phone up to the Bluetooth in my car and mounted a Magsafe Apple Charger. I snap my iPhone 12 Pro Max onto the charger and unlock the phone and open up my audio listening app of choice.
The worst time sucks for audio include podcasts that aren’t productive. Find good sermons or leadership podcasts. Or listen to books that don’t need your eyeballs to gain benefit. I love biographies, history books, and stories with redeeming quality.
Dr. Kevin Purcell is pastor of High Peak Baptist Church, an author and writer at Church Tech Today (www.churchtechtoday.com). He used to write for a number of other Christian and secular technology and mobile tech sites. Now he's one of the hosts of the Theotek Podcast, which you can find by checking the menu above or over at www.facebook.com/theotekpodcast.