11 Free Online Tools That Help Your Church Staff

Tuesday, July 1, 2014 7:50:00 AM Categories: Ministry & Technology
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We know that a huge part of leading in a church is keeping your people up to date on what is happening and gaining their input. Getting your team into the same room isn’t always possible but it doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice keeping everyone on the same page. People are used to working with online tools that are designed to help keep teams working together even if you can’t be in the same room all the time! Here are a number of FREE tools that you should explore using with your team:

SkypeIt’s been around forever but it has stood the test of time! Video conferencing that most people have used at some point and is pretty straight forward to use. Did you know that you can have as many as 25 people on a skype call at a time? Need to interview a number of potential volunteers for your kids ministry? Rather than spending days driving around from place to place … set up an evening of skype calls with people.

DropboxImagine if you could share a folder on your computer that would automatically sync with other people on your team? That’s Dropbox. Perfect for sharing big files across multiple people. Set up a series of folders for each weekend at your church … each of the team members who are contributing slides, videos or graphics can put their stuff into the folder on their computer … then it will automatically sync with the computer that runs it all during your services.

OneDriveMicrosoft’s answer to Dropbox … with a few more features added in to give you control over who uses what files. If your church is totally in the “Microsoft” space this is a great tool. When your next missions trip gets back from the field share a folder of everyone’s best photos … as people upload them then everyone will have each others pictures!

Co-op: An online messaging collaboration space sort of like the original twitter look and feel. A clean interface for keeping people pointed in the same direction. Great for tracking together with a team working on a similar project. Next time you plan a retreat for the youth group … use this tool to track the progress and conversation with the various team members.

WebExWant to hold an online meeting with 2-3 people at your church? Webex allows you to share your screen or even a common online whiteboard. Hold a quick “pre-weekend” call with some volunteer leaders. Share your desktop to show them what’s happening and use the whiteboard to work out some of the logistics.

Prezi: Prezi is sort of like a fancy powerpoint that multiple people can edit at the same time. Give people their sections of the presentation to edit and allow them to make up their own slides. Have multiple people presenting at an upcoming board meeting? Give them access to the same Prezi file and ask them to add their slides.

Join.meA really straight forward screen sharing tool that also includes the ability to connect all your people via audio for free. Perfect if you are having an online meeting with people who are on the road or not always in the same room. Host a post-weekend evaluation call with your team and show them photos from the service to talk through how they can improve for the next weekend!

Mind42: Online mind-mapping tool … perfect for teams to brainstorm for upcoming projects. Get people’s input on an idea start up a mind-map and pass it around via email to everyone on your team.  Trying to come up with ways to show appreciation to your volunteers? Brainstorm a few ideas on a mindmap and then email it around to the rest of your team to add their ideas.

YouVersion: The leading online Bible app also have some great collaboration features built right in. Great for keeping your team on a spiritual journey together.  Build a custom reading list that lines up with your weekend services so your core volunteers and leaders and can reading through what you will be preaching on each weekend.

WeVideo: Online video editing that allows multiple people to log into the same video project and work on it from anywhere. At your next community service project have multiple team members take video with their smart phones and then upload it to a common video project. Assign someone to pull together the various pieces into a quick highlight video to upload to Facebook.

Google: It probably goes without saying that Google has a lot of free collaboration tools that you should be using at your church. In fact … the“Google Suite” should be the core of your church’s online collaboration. Here are few to highlight that are particularly good for churches looking to work together online: GmailGoogle AlertsGoogle AnalyticsGoogle Apps for BusinessGoogle CalendarGoogle HangoutsGoogle Insights, and Google Talk.

Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. He blogs at UnSeminary.com and is a sought after speaker and consultant on multisite, pastoral productivity and communications. Visit Rich Birch at http://www.unseminary.com