I’m a bit of a geek, so I love my devices. I’m a walking Apple commercial. I actually watch the Keynotes live (I know…). I love the promise of these things. They’ll make me more productive, I say to myself. They’ll make me work smarter, not harder.
Yeah. Not so much.
Mostly, my tools are a place to hide from the discomfort of doing real work. That’s when I turn to these 5 high-powered, low-tech tools for getting actual ministry work done.
The communion in a cup of coffee
There is no more powerful tool for ministry than meeting face-to-face. Human connection is our stock-in-trade, and nothing facilitates great connection like coffee, tea, lunch, dinner, or whatever elements work to set the table for you. Sharing a meal is great, but coffee, in my experience, works just as well and is easier to schedule. Set aside time weekly to go through your list of people and thoughtfully consider you need to re-connect with.
The inefficiency of a phone call
No, I’m not talking about the Cray Supercomputer in your pocket, I’m talking about your least used app – the one that actually makes phone calls. Too often, we default to the mass efficiency of text, email, facebook, Instagram, or Snap Chat (seriously?). These tools are good, but surprise someone today by actually calling them. Better yet, make a weekly call sheet of 50 or so names. Chip-away at it every single day.
The surprise of a thank you card
Yes. A hand-written note. Think about, you know, actually saying thank you. Ask what’s new. You’ll blow people’s minds. Here’s a tip: after you write “thanks” for whatever you’re actually grateful for (a topic for another day), write, “Give me a call when you have a minute. I’d love to just catch up.” Then see who actually calls. This one experiment alone will tell you volumes about the quality of your relationships. (Bonus tip: work on your handwriting. It’s been a while.)
The reflection in a bit of feedback
One of the most useful things I’ve learned as a public speaker is this: there’s no quicker way to get better than by watching yourself on video. Seeing yourself on camera is terrifying because you immediately see all your flaws. The same principle is at play when you ask someone for honest feedback about your work. Pro tip: Don’t ask your mom. Maybe ask your spouse. Certainly ask your boss. Definitely ask that person in the congregation who always irritates you. There’s a reason they irritate you. You’re looking in the mirror.
The pain of accountability
It’s a cliché, but make yourself accountable to someone you respect. Share your weekly list of calls and visits. Now, here’s the real power of this practice: Don’t just ask them to check on your progress. That’s too comfortable and too easy to dismiss. When you failed to call or visit someone, have them ask you: “Why didn’t you call or visit this person?” When you give them your lame excuse, have them ask, “What price are you paying by not calling them? What price are we all paying because you’re letting this relationship slide?” Remember, this has to be someone you respect.
For some, these tools can be hard to master. For others, they come more naturally. Either way, lean into the discomfort of doing real, relational ministry work. Learn to re-prioritize the urgency of dormant human connections. That’s where you’ll discover the real power of your work.