As a youth minister I’m constantly looking for ways to utilize technology to help my ministry go to the next level. This involves looking at different ways of training my volunteers and equipping them for success. If you can maximize how you use certain software and resources you can definitely take your youth ministry to the next level. I’m constantly looking for resources that will not only help me; but, my volunteers as well.
The folks over at Barefoot Ministries have recently launched Barefoot Online a resource designed to help youth ministers better organize and streamline their ministers, resources, curriculum and most importantly, their calendar. As someone always looking to do more ministry and less office work I decided to give it a test run and see how it would work in the context of my ministry.
When you sign into Barefoot Online it’ll lead you to a pretty clear dashboard. From there you can see what’s coming up, what’s going on and what you need to do. From there you have four main sections: Tracking, Lessons, Training and Formation. These four areas are designed to assist you in everything from tracking your people to going deeper in your own spiritual walk as a youth minister.
TRACKING: With an easy interface, that’s well thought out, it’s definitely an attractive tool for organizing your volunteers, parents and teenagers. Many times we’re left to type up spreadsheets and create our own formulas; however, this one takes care of it. When it comes to updating your database, it’s easy to enter the information yourself or upload a previously made one on your computer. My only struggle is that you can’t send a link out to a participant to fill in their own database.
LESSONS: It’s easy to get boggled down to the point where just getting the lessons out to your leader is tough. Training them and going over the materials are next to impossible. The thing I love most about the lessons section is how the curriculum is formated and the video trainings that come with it. The downside is the inability to upload my own content or make changes to what is offered. While the content is good I would like to adjust some of it to the context of my youth ministry.
TRAINING: This by far is my favorite part because I think this is definitely something all youth ministers could use. Even if this was the only feature to Barefoot Online I would be happy. There is a good mix of audio and video training. And with the ability to generate conversations via questions, this tool is priceless. Definitely the best part.
FORMATION: I would have never thought about creating a section just focused on the holistic formation of a youth minister if I was starting an online training. I think this is an important feature and while I would like to see some expansion on this section I like how it has something for me the youth minister. While we don’t all have the time to meet face to face with a spiritual director, this definitely takes care of some of those needs.
Overall, I think this is a great resource, especially if you are starting out in youth ministry. With it’s extensive library of lessons and curriculum it will save you time of creating things from scratch so that you can be more pastoral.
One of the push backs to any online software is the price; however, I found this reasonable, especially if you are utilizing the entire site. Even though there are limitations on what you can upload and alter, I’m definitely looking forward to the training section to grow and expand. Again, I recommend this resource, especially if you are trying to get your feet firm in youth ministry.
Have you used Barefootonline.com? What are your thoughts?
What do you look for when it comes to online training?
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