They called him “Joe Cool.” As time ran out on his team, Joe Montana was as cool as the other side of the pillow. No quarterback in the history of professional football could work the clock like Montana. As time ran out, he was at his best. He led 31 4th-quarter comebacks in his NFL career—plus several iconic ones in the playoffs. It’s like Montana got extra time every time he suited up.
Managing your time matters when you’re an NFL quarterback. In fact, the best quarterbacks in football history—Tom Brady, John Elway, Johnny Unitas, etc.—always seemed to have a hidden clock in the back of their heads.
Managing your time matters when you’re a pastor, too. If you’re like most pastors, time is fleeting. Every single week is a two-minute drill. A 2015 LifeWay Research survey showed that 84 percent of pastors say they’re on the clock 24 hours a day (and we wonder why pastors aren’t healthier). More than half of pastors called their role “overwhelming.” An earlier LifeWay Research survey suggested that half of all full-time pastors worked more than 50 hours a week.
If that’s you, you’re not alone. Your peers are right there with you. But what if you could steal a play from Joe Montana’s playbook? What if you could get a little more time each week—maybe as much as half a day—simply by taking advantage of a few easy-to-use technology tools?
That’s four more hours every week to spend time with your family, go fishing, or check out the new book you’ve been meaning to read. Or it may be four more hours to disciple new believers, work on your sermon, or plan a new outreach effort.
And that time is yours to have. You may have a love-hate relationship with technology. But choosing the right tech tools just may be your key to bringing out your inner Joe Montana and finding more time every single week. Take these five easy-to-use tools as an example. Add them to your weekly playbook, and you’ll get more time.
Logos Bible Software (save two hours a week):
You probably block off significant time each week to prepare for preaching and teaching. It’s a big part of what God has called you to do. But it’s not all He has called you to do. Digital Bible software, like Logos, can help save time and, frankly, prepare better messages. Bible software saves you time because it means your library is at the tip of your fingers. You no longer have to wonder what Spurgeon and your favorite Bible dictionary have to say about Matthew 9:23. No need to search painstakingly through your resources independently to find related insights.
Instead, type the verse into Logos’ search engine, and you’ll get everything your library has to say on the verse instantly. Because it’s all coming in digitally, you can easily transfer what you’re discovering to your sermon manuscript or notes. A digital library is also highly mobile and available on your tablet or smartphone. That means you can work on your sermon whenever God impresses you to do so—not just when you’re sitting in your office. Logos isn’t the only answer either. The digital Bible space has tons of options—including WORDsearch, Olive Tree, and BibleGateway.com. Each platform is different, but none of them are difficult to use, regardless of your tech experience.
Evernote (save an hour a week):
Think of all the documents you try to keep track of each week. You’ve got sermon notes, counseling notes, ideas you’ve written on the back of napkins—and all those articles you’ve read that you’re sure will make it into a future sermon. What do you do with all of that stuff? If you’re like most pastors, you have have a different filing system for each (assuming you have any organizational system at all). But the key to any organizational system isn’t where you put it today—it’s how you look for it tomorrow. Evernote helps you find it tomorrow (or three years from now). Say you’ve saved a great news story about a father who courageously runs into a flaming inferno to rescue his daughter. Three years later, when you’re doing that sermon on courage, you’ve forgotten all about that story—and the 15 others you’ve discovered in the meantime. Just search for your “courage” tag in Evernote, and it’s there for you to use when you preach. And here’s the most important part (you’ll notice this as a theme throughout). You can access it wherever you are—from your smartphone, tablet, or whatever device you happen to be using.
Wunderlist (save 30 minutes a week):
Okay, so a task list doesn’t seem all that innovative. I get that. You can find a million task-list tools on paper and online. Wunderlist will help you keep all of your task lists together, though. Most importantly, you can share your task lists with staff members, your significant other, your kids, or your neighbor. As a leader, you’re in charge of a variety of projects. A good digital task list will help you stay on top of all of them simultaneously.
It’ll save you time, too. Keeping yourself and your staff on the same page on important projects means less duplication and less confusion. That’s worth 30 minutes a week, easy.
echurch (save an hour a week):
The world is becoming more mobile. That’s beyond question (in 2015, Americans spent on average nearly three hours a day on their mobile devices). The question is, will your church follow suit? Through echurch, you can drive your church’s communication (and giving) to mobile devices. That will save you—and the rest of your staff—time. You’re communicating in the language of your congregation. Your congregation isn’t using their computers or printed materials nearly as much as they use their phones. You always save time by using the preferred communication methods of those to whom you’re communicating.
Slack (save 30 minutes a week):
Communicate, communicate, communicate. You’ve heard the admonition. You may have even given the admonition to others. But do you live by it? One of the biggest wastes of time we all suffer through is a lack of communication. Through Slack, you can connect with your staff or teams of lay leaders in an instant.
What sets Slack apart is how it helps you start a channel on the fly. In other words, say you’re starting work on your Christmas program. Through Slack, you can set up a “Christmas Program” channel with your worship leader, your key volunteer leader, and someone from your children’s ministry team. When something important comes up related to the program, you’ll be able to send an instant message straight to the mobile phones of either one person or the whole group. You can also set up Slack channels for a number of teams you work with each week, such as those responsible for your worship service, Sunday School teachers, or greeters.
You’ll notice a common theme with all of these tech tools. They all rely heavily on mobile engagement. You may have a love-hate relationship with mobile technology. You may love the ability to communicate easily wherever you are. You also hate the ability to communicate wherever you are. That’s understandable. But mobile technology is here to stay. The tools above can help you use the best parts of mobile technology to save yourself a half day every week. You deserve the extra time. You need the extra time.
Joe Cool would be proud.
If you like saving time, download a free copy of Top 10 Tech Tools for Your Church. Here you’ll discover the best tools available for managing your people, your content, and your Sunday morning experience.