Wednesday, April 4, 2018

There's an app for that!

One of the biggest things I struggled with when I went off to college,and aged out of youth group and other faith formation activities at church was having resources for every day use. I had a hard time finding good books in a sea of Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer publications. If I wanted to listen to Christian music, which artists used good theology in their songs? Christianity has so much influence in so many different aspects in our life, but how do we sort through all the different voices to find the ones that resonate with us?

Now in ministry, there is a struggle for making time to explore our faith. Sometimes it hard enough to come together on Sunday mornings, much less for faith formation classes on Wednesday nights or small groups on Tuesdays. Even our youth already have grueling schedules.

This is where my new project comes in. I'm going to start posting lists of my top 3 recommendations for different things where you can bring your faith outside of the church building. It will be a variety of things, there are no limits to what the 3 can be. It could be books, podcasts, simple service projects, or anything else we can think of. 

So let's start off with my first three - my top 3 phone apps. Let's be honest, we're probably all on our phones way more than we should be. Why not use them in a productive way?

#1 - Bible Gateway (you can also visit their website here)
This is my go-to app for everything! They have 49 versions of the Bible on the app, and have a variety of other languages like German and Spanish, but also have the Greek and Hebrew translations as well. There are also audio versions of the Bible (unfortunately, not all 49 translations). 

Bible Gateway also includes some great tools on the app. You can take and save notes as you read. They also have a variety of reading plans that you can follow, such as New Testament in a Year or Bible in 90 days. Under resources, you'll find tools like maps, devotionals, and dictionaries.

#2 - Our Bible 
This one was actually recommended to me by one of my favorite podcasts (that list will come another day) The app has two main categories - devotions and library. You can save things from each category to make your own home dashboard or "my stuff." I really like the devotionals because their series are short and sweet. Most are only a few days long. There is also a vast variety of topics that they have for devotionals, from mental health, parenting, and even for those who are less "churched." For those of you who are interested in the #decolonizeLutheranism movement, they also have the #ShutTheHellUp advent devotionals that they promoted, with writings from people like Lenny Duncan who is currently a seminarian and vicar with the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. They also include a variety of media with their devotionals, including video blogs and podcasts.  Their library is also a great tool, because not only does it have a variety of downloadable Bibles, but they also have book recommendations listed as well. 

#3 - Frolic 
 For those unfamiliar with Frolic, it started out as a curriculum for children from birth - 3 years under Sparkhouse, and Sparkhouse is a division of 1517 Media(formerly Augsburg Fortress) the ministry of publishing within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Spark house makes faith formation resources for people of all ages, not just Sunday school resources. However, people may know them best for their curriculum like Whirl or coLABorate confirmation.

So with their app, they have it set up so it is customized to help your children learn based on their age. I made up a pretend child - Castiel who is 21 months old (that's why you see it in the picture on the right). You can add as multiple children as well. The app will give you updates each month in 4 different categories - Your Developing Child, Growing in Faith, Celebrating the Season, and Just For You. The picture on the left explains each category more. Each category will explain some sort of way you can connect with your family. So let's look at the Growing in Faith and what it means for little Castiel. You can see below that each category will be listed and you can click to read more if you like. Each one will only be a few paragraphs, so it's quick and easy to read. Perfect for busy families! So with Castiel, Frolic addresses the "whys" that come with a curious toddler and how you can use that to talk about faith with them. How cool is that?

Honorable Mentions:
Luther's Small Catechism - Luther created the small catechism as a tool to teach about faith and the Bible at home. I know I've had many copies over the years, and they're so small so I always end up losing them. Now, there is no excuse!
Book of Common Prayer - sometimes is just really hard to pray. While the Book of Common Prayer is not necessarily Lutheran, it does come in handy. It has both daily and occasional prayers. You can even set reminders for daily prayer if you so choose. 

So I hope this and future lists will be helpful! If you have any ideas or requests for a Three on 3, you can comment here or e-mail me at