tools for productivity in ministry.

By: Colton Shaw

tools for productivity in ministry.

By: Colton Shaw

Have you ever looked around and just thought to yourself “There has to be a better way to do this”? Don’t worry, you are far from the only one. Most people who are working or volunteering in ministry at your church, non-profit, or any other roles tend to have responsibilities that far exceed the hours in a day.

Currently, I work a full-time job, have a full-time career at Focus Church, and have a wife with a child on the way. So, when I write about creating a more productive day it’s out of pure necessity rather than desire.

These tools will not be a quick fix for your day, but my hope for you is that you will take one of these tools away and implement them into your roles.


Have you ever wondered how organizations could afford an email with their domain? For non-profits, this is simply one of the best tools you can implement because it is entirely free for you if you own a domain already. If you don’t own a domain you can buy one for less than $15/yr. G Suite will allow your organization to have branded email addresses, cloud storage, calendars, documents video calling, and so much more.

If you aren’t doing this now, stop reading and talk to whoever needs to set this up for your organization. It’s free so why wouldn’t you? Check it out today


Easily the number two spot here is Slack. Slack is a multi-purpose chat tool that allows you to collaborate and communicate with your teams in the easiest way possible. You will be able to create channels for events, set reminders, share documents, and communicate with your team in one location. This removes the need for text messages, emails, some Facebook groups, and other modes of communication.

Slack has two plans that are worth it, the free tier and paid. As a church, we currently subscribe staff to the paid tier for the added benefits of single access users, more storage, and more integrations with 3rd party software. We also have slack channels that are on the free tier for our volunteers and other teams who don’t need a paid level account. If you are looking for a way to communicate, this comes highly recommended.


Does your organization provide individuals with credit cards or other ways they can incur expenses for you? Do you collect those receipts weekly, monthly, or quarterly? Then continue reading.

Expensify was introduced into our workflow because we realized there was a large amount of time spent between turning in receipts and entering them into the system. This was taking someone easily 15 hours a month to complete on top of the time it took to turn in receipts, search for lost ones, and find out who purchased what and why. When I tell you it was a mess I mean it. The moment we subscribed and set up Expensify, we could see the process streamlined and simplified.

At $9/mo per person for their most expensive plan, it’s easily worth the value that it brings to the table. We have it set to sync from Wells Fargo and send the notification to the relevant cardholder, all automated so it removes human interaction. The only time we are needed is to approve the report of expenses, which you can choose to auto-approve if that’s your workflow.


Do you feel excited yet by all the tools out there that seem like they are only for a corporate role but can easily be introduced into ministry? Number four is a little different than the past few. This one is for you individually or for the organization. It is dependant on how you choose to implement it.

Trello is a project management software at its core, that functions with operating with boards, lists, and cards. A board is a group of similar lists that contain cards. Each card can be an event, task, or step within a task. We use Trello for our graphic design process, facility maintenance, and big event planning. For example, did a toilet break? No problem, we will add it to our trello and make sure it’s updated with the status as we go. Once it’s complete, the card is completed and you are notified that it’s now complete. Simple, yet elegant.

Trello will enable you to keep your thoughts, to-do lists, and documents for a project in one central location so you’re not stuck searching for it. You can choose to share a list or keep it to yourself. The great thing about Trello is the bulk of the users will only need the free tier choosing to upgrade if you want to add more integrations into your boards.


Most churches already implement a ChMS, however, if you do not yet then Planning Center comes highly recommended. This will easily streamline your ministry through the many modules that Planning Center offers. You can manage your giving, services, groups, people database and so much more through the various modules that are offered within Planning Center.

One example of how to streamline this is found in their most popular product, Services. Services enables you to schedule and plan your weekend experiences in a way that you would never be able to do by yourself. Imagine a world where you can plug a volunteer’s name into a serving position, they get an automated email to confirm or decline, and you receive their responses without ever introducing confusion along the way. That’s the simplicity of Planning Center Services.

Don’t just get stuck on one module though, they have seven different modules that could transform how you manage your ministry every day. Check it out for yourself.

6. 15 to 15

Don’t skip this because you believe you know how to write a checklist! This last one is the odd one out of the list, but it’s difficult to speak to productivity and not provide a tip.

If you’re like me you have so much on your plate that often you forget tasks or things fall behind and you have to play catch up. Lately, I have been working on a strategy to implement into my daily routine and it has transformed how I operate. It’s based on the simple idea of todo lists. I call it the “15 to 15” because you are living between your 15 minute planning periods.

In a nutshell, you spend the first 15 minutes of each day reviewing what you have to do for the day and making a plan to accomplish all of it. You then spend the last 15 minutes of each day planning what you have to do for the next day and marking off any tasks that you have accomplished already. This allows you to always brain dump your tasks onto a list so you do not forget them, then enables you to organize and prioritize what you have to accomplish.

There are so many tools out there to accomplish this from a simple note pad, your notes app, to an app like TickTick. The key to this strategy is that no matter your platform you have to commit to not doing anything else but planning for the first and last 15 minutes of each day, longer if you need it.

These tools and tips are not something that you can implement overnight and some might not even be relevant to you. However, if can commit to trying one or two for a month I promise that you will see dramatic results in productivity on your teams and ministry increase.

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