Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Essential and Affordable Youth Ministry Apps: What Did Youth Pastors Do Before the iPhone?

I have had my moments of creativity, developing quirky and fun games for those Sunday night youth groups or long van rides to youth retreats and conferences. Facebook Frenzy. Imago Fame. Price Is Right. Do You Know the 12 Disciples...and Other Fun Facts. The list goes on. I would be glad to share any of these ideas with you.

But I feel my gift really is in teaching. I prefer writing Bible studies, developing engaging curriculum, crafting formative devotionals, preparing interactive youth talks, delivering thoughtful sermons, and working through clever conversation starters that invite youth to dig deeper into Jesus' call on their lives.

Yet fun games and comical activities are vital to youth ministry. They break down barriers and remind youth that part of discipleship is getting the most out of life and finding joy in the simple things.

Thankfully, the iPhone, iPad, and App Store have allowed me to spend more time on what I am gifted for and borrow the brilliance of app developers to make youth ministry travel, weekly drop-ins, or long flights to Honduras all the more entertaining. These apps have provided platforms to strengthening relationships with regular and new youth in Imago Dei Youth Ministry.

Here are a few of my favorite iPhone apps I consider essential for youth workers and youth pastors looking for quick, easy, and playful interactions with youth in their ministries. Thanks to some of the youth and adult leaders who recommended a few of these:

Heads Up! Yep, this is the one made famous by Ellen DeGeneres. A variation of charades, this app costs a mere $.99 and will provide endless entertainment. The app has a variety of categories and even keeps score and records video of the "actor," which can be posted on Facebook or Twitter. Pretty clever. (iPhone only, but I upload and enlarge on iPad for group use)
Charades! A free and less flashy version of Heads Up. Simple. Easy. Awesome.
The American Bible Challenge. Straight from the Game Show Network and featuring the voice of Jeff Foxworthy, this game tests your youth and leaders in basic and more difficult Bible trivia. Great for car rides and before Bible studies or Sunday School. I frequently project onto a screen or wall through iPad for larger groups. (iphone only, but can then downlod and enlarge on iPad)
Pic Stitch. A great way to create collages of trip photos to be posted on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Parents and youth love to see what you are up to as a ministry with youth.
Sound Effects. Just for fun. That's all.
Air Hockey Gold. Exactly what you think it is. One player or multi player. You can even play over Game Center. Pretty epic!
Best of: Fact or Fiction? I question their source of information- probably Wikipedia :) Nonetheless, the youth love to consider these obscure facts or fictions. You may want to filter some of the questions before you ask them. This one has saved me from long and loud renditions of 99 Bottles of ________ on the wall...
Where's Waldo? Yes, we are still looking. I have used this on the big screen before Sunday school, as there is a competitive version where you try to find objects and characters before your opponent does the same. I have also navigated the individual adventures on flights home from Honduras. It's kind of addicting but still cheap.




For another related post, see Josh Gill's post, The Best Travel Apps for Summer Camp