The 26 Best Apps for Youth Pastors
We get it. Most days we would rather leave our phone in our sock drawer at home. After all, who needs to carry around an annoying buzzer that keeps going off with alerts, reminders, tasks, and tasks to set reminders?
Every type of technology places us squarely at a crossroads. Will we use the tools at hand for eternal goals and purposes, or will allow that tool (and our flesh) waste our time and attention on worldly things? Before reading this list, make sure you pause and reflect on your heart and actions. Is your phone using you, or are you using it as a tool for godliness and proclaiming the Kingdom of God?
With that in mind (and your phone notifications turned off), let’s get started!
4 categories of apps we’ll examine:
- Bible & prayer
- Doctrine & theology
- Learning & research
- Planning & communication
1. Bible & Prayer Tools for Student Pastors
Accordance Bible Software
Accordance is a great resource to use as you study the Bible. Read commentaries alongside Scripture and take your own study notes. This app also allows you to compare two Bible translations side by side that will scroll in sync with one another. You can follow a Bible reading plan, take notes, and search through Greek and Hebrew Bibles. If you would like to add more resources to your library, Accordance has an extensive collection of Bibles and study tools available for purchase.
The Dwell app was created to become the highest-quality audio Bible tool available. We’ll let you be the judge, but they seem to have succeeded. There is a high cost, but they provide tons of features, including 4 audio recording options, 44 Bible listening plans, 261 key curated passages, and 44 playlists by topic. You can even switch voices and background music depending on your preference for the day. After all, you might want different background music during your morning Bible study than during your cross-country training.
If you’re a fan of the ESV translation (our recommended Bible translation), then you need to check out the ESV Bible app. After you sign in with a free ESV.org account, your highlights, bookmarks, and note-taking will be synced online! Additionally, you will be able to read your ESV Study Bible via the online Crossway account as well. It’s one of the best overall Bible apps out and we recommend you check it out! Two things we love about it: (1) the ESV Bible app provides 60+ Bible reading plans from well-known Bible teachers (past and current), and (2) the app provides a fantastic audio recording of Scripture, that can be sped up or slowed down depending on your preferences.
Fighter Verses has been around since the beginning of phone apps, and their current version is better than ever. The $2.99 cost gets you 11 Bible translations, including a few foreign ones. They focus on 1,000 pre-loaded verses and six unique memory quizzes (including recording yourself reading aloud, typing, multiple-choice, word bank). However, you can add any verse you want and listen to songs created in the ESV translation.
Most of us need some help on focusing our prayers, so here’s one way to pray for unreached people groups (and the missionaries reaching them). The IMB publishes new prayer requests daily from missionaries on the field. There are four key ways you can use the IMB Pray app to strengthen your prayer life: (1) Use the daily prayer guide, (2) join 175 Days of Prayer calendar, (3) find specific prayer needs for unreached people groups and missionary families, and (4) read personal stories from missionaries and Christians around the world.
Logos Bible Study Tools
Logos is also another awesome resource to use while studying through Scripture. You can save any book or Bible you own for offline use. This app allows you to save layouts, highlight, take notes, include a Bible word study, text comparison, reading plans, and audiobooks. Logos also contains optional subscriptions like the Bible Study Bundle and Faithlife Connect Mobile.
New City Catechism
The New City Catechism app is built around 52 catechism questions and answers to help you meditate on the character of God and better learn key doctrines of Christianity. Users can access both adult and children’s modes on the same account, and read Scripture passages that support each catechism question.
IMB Deepen Discipleship (via Path app)
The IMB (International Mission Board) has created a free small group Bible study for churches in America—and we think it’s fantastic. This is the second year my wife and I are leading our small group through the study, and we’re continually challenged to follow Christ more faithfully and sacrificially. The Deepen Discipleship Bible study flow is simple but effective: 5 days of Bible reading, short commentary, key verses to memorize, interactive questions, and a weekly group meeting for discussion. In six months, you’ll read and discuss through the entire New Testament!
Just recently, they’ve created a more simple version through the Path App so that it works more seamlessly on iPhones. You can also access Deepen Discipleship online for free (without the app).
2. Doctrine & Theology Apps for Student Pastors
Bible Vocab+ is a simple way to learn vocabulary from the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament. You can choose vocab lists from any passage in the Bible or from the Greek and Hebrew textbooks included in the app. BibleVocab+ has resources to make learning new vocabulary terms such as a spaced repetition, reading mode, and a slideshow mode where you’re introduced to the terms and can study them through tests.
Think of the Biblical Training app as seminary-level training for free, on your phone. They offer 129 free classes and seminars on books of the Bible, spiritual disciplines, preaching, worship, missions, spiritual warfare, marriage and family, and apologetics. They use teaching content from pastors and seminary professors across the country. A few of our favorites include John Piper, Timothy George, Craig Blomberg, Timothy Tennent, Bill Mounce, Thomas Schreiner, Douglas Moo, George Guthrie, Bryan Chapell, Robert Stein, and Bruce Ware.
From their app description: “BiblicalTraining is broadly evangelical, not connected to any one church, denomination, or theological tradition.”
The Covenant Seminary app brings Bible teaching to you for free. You can listen to full-length seminary courses from the faculty of Covenant Seminary, who were the largest contributors to the popular ESV Study Bible. This app features courses in Old Testament, New Testament, Systematic Theology, Church History, and more.
Daily Dose of Greek
Learning Greek for the first time? Daily Dose of Greek is a convenient way to learn and keep up with Biblical Greek. Every day, Dr. Rob Plummer (SBTS) takes you through a verse of the Greek New Testament and discusses grammar, syntax, and translation in just two minutes.
Daily Dose of Hebrew
Just like Daily Dose of Greek, the Daily Dose of Hebrew app is built to help you learn and keep up with Biblical Hebrew. Every day, Dr. Mark Futato, Dr. Tom Blanchard, and Dr. Adam Howell take you through a verse of the Hebrew Bible and discuss grammar, syntax, and translation in just two minutes. This app allows you to learn how to translate a specific verse by browsing through the archives to hear what our seasoned professors have to say about it.
Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS)
This app allows you to listen to more than twenty Distance Education courses for free, explore Reformed Theological Seminary, and listen to the most recent Chapel Messages. RTS also features a one-year Bible reading plan.
- Download on the Apple Store
- Download on the Google Play Store
- Cost – Free (if you have a RightNow Media membership)
Hopefully, your church already has an account set up with RightNowMedia.org. If not, it’s worth looking into! Once you gain access to the library, you’ll find countless video Bible studies, ebooks, and devotionals. Make a personal playlist of your favorites and start watching! Streaming via Apple TV or Google Chromecast is quick and easy.
Snowbird Wilderness Outfitters
Like all the other great Gospel-driven content from SWO, we offer the Snowbird App for free on Apple, Google, and Amazon devices! All the key logistical resources for your time at SWO are available there, but we’re even more excited about the great teaching and Bible content the app enables us to publish. All of the teaching recordings get dropped in as soon as possible following our retreats and camps, and you can also read our weekly blog posts directly from the app.
If you’re still not convinced, don’t forget it’s the best place to follow the annual SWO Bible Reading Plan or listen to the new No Sanity Required podcast (coming March 2020).
3. Learning & Research Apps
Evernote helps you focus on what matters most and have quick access to your information when you need it—while also keeping an archive of everything you’ve ever written or saved. Input typed notes or scan handwritten notes. Add to-do’s, photos, images, web pages, or audio … and it’s all instantly searchable. It allows you to get organized and sync everywhere on any device.
This might be the most helpful research and planning app for youth pastors. If you’re writing a research paper for seminary (or simply prepping for weekly sermons) then Evernote will be an invaluable tool. Jump in with both feet, and take advantage of building a digital research library that is custom-tailored to your organization system.
- Download on the Apple Store
- Download on the Google Play Store
- Cost – Free trial (then $9.99 per month)
Scribd is a digital library to access an unlimited number of audiobooks, ebooks, magazine articles, sheet music selections, and research documents. Audible is great too, but you have to purchase books individually. Unlike Audible, you gain immediate access to a massive library of audio and digital books for a small monthly fee. You can also download resources to read offline. If you enjoy the app you can upgrade to their membership that is a monthly subscription that starts at $9.99.
Sign up for an account at ChristianAudio.com, and they will email you a free new audiobook every month. Who doesn’t love free stuff? You can also shop for countless other audiobooks in their library, and will be notified about surprise sales throughout the year. The app’s user experience is not the best, but free books are great either way. You can adjust the listening speed and create custom bookmarks for things you want to remember.
Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit, but we have the joy and responsibility to speak the Gospel of Jesus into the lives of others—including those who don’t speak our language. Work to cross that language barrier!
Duolingo is a fantastic learning tool. Short of finding a personal language tutor, I can’t think of a more effective way to learn the basics of a new language. Over 300 million people use Duolingo to learn over 30 languages. So, if you’ve got a friend that speaks Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, or Swahili (and you don’t) then check out Duolingo and start investing in that friendship. Love them with the love of Christ, and point to the glory of Jesus through the words of the Gospel!
- Download on the Apple Store
- Cost – Free
Have you ever wanted to create playlists for podcast channels and episodes you want to listen to? Overcast is the place to make it happen. It’s Apple Podcasts on steroids. Simply sign in to your Apple account and your settings will automatically be imported. You can subscribe to podcast channels, download particular episodes, or create a playlist of your favorite sermons.
The Amazon Kindle app is a free app for anyone with an Amazon account. Download and you’ll automatically get access to free digital books, and most other books are cheaper than printed versions. If you’re really craving access to the audio version, then simply download the Alexa app (free) and it will read your Kindle books to you.
4. Planning & Communication Apps for Student Ministry
Canva (for graphic design)
Whether you need an Instagram story, logo maker, or youth group event poster—Canva has you covered. This is the design tool for us non-designers. You can use Canva for all your social media design needs, create logos, book covers, and blog design for any project. After all, the Lord has called you to shepherd students and make disciples—not waste hours learning a new design program.
Pick a few Canva templates, adjust the colors, text, and info to fit your youth group’s personality, and hit Download. Save time by being smart so that you can get out of the office and back to building relationships with middle and high school students.
Mailchimp Marketing & CRM (for emailing your youth group)
Mailchimp is the market-leading group email tool for anyone wanting to use a free tool to contact your email list. If you use email to connect with your parents or church members throughout the week, this is likely the best tool for you. Through this app, you can prep and send new messages, view detailed reports, and manage their contact info on the go. This the SWO tool of choice for email messaging, and we’re thankful for the simplicity!
MindNode (for thinking)
- Download on the Apple Store
- Cost – Free
MindNode is a great tool for capturing your thoughts for sermon prep, writing small group curriculum, or planning your next trip to SWO. Consider this your digital whiteboard (that syncs across all your devices). The best approach is to dump all your thoughts out into a mind map, then drag it all around to get organized. It’s magic!
Whether as words, images, links, tasks, or notes, MindNode allows you to capture and organize your thoughts in any form. MindNode Plus is available as a monthly and a yearly subscription.
Spark (for email)
Spark might be the simplest and most powerful email tool available. It’s especially helpful if you hate using email. The app, which syncs across your phone and computer, allows you to snooze emails, schedule emails to be sent later, auto-archive, or group them according to priority. It also includes a built-in calendar.
Please let us know what you like (or don’t like) about this list. And, we’d love to hear if you have any helpful additions for student pastors to check out.
We also built a list of Apps that Help Students Fight for Godliness. Check that out and share it with your students if you find it helpful.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:3-8)
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