[ym360 Note: A while ago, Kurt Libby contacted us to tell us about an app he and a friend were developing. When we saw Youth Ministry Tracker, we were blown away. We think Kurt and his team have something on their hands that will revolutionize youth ministry and we wanted to let him share their story with you. This isn't a paid advertisement and ym360 doesn't have any financial stake in Youth Ministry Tracker. We were simply impressed and wanted to help get the word out. So after you read the article, do yourself a favor and go immediately to youthministrytracker.com.]
About two years ago, after trying a few different youth ministry database solutions, I jumped ship and went with just spreadsheets. After a year of that, I was able to track student info and attendance metrics, but it took way too much time.
If I could wave a magic wand and create a solution, it would be an iPhone app. But most of those were targeted at school classroom attendance or required some subscription fee.
I approached one of my former students that was enrolled in a computer science program at Northwest Nazarene University about creating the solution. The rest, as they say, is history. Here we are, eight months later, and we’re just about ready to launch the app that I’ve been waiting for my entire career.
We are extremely excited to announce Youth Ministry Tracker, with the hopes that the number of teens that slip through the cracks will drop significantly for ministries all over the country.
So what can Youth Ministry Tracker do?
The app is built with features that are essential in ministry. You are able to capture info from students, track attendance for events, monitor attendance trends over time by gender and school, and create smart filtered groups for powerful communication.
Capturing info gets everything you want from students. It would be nice if everyone came with a business card, but they don’t. So you hand them the phone with the app open and it leads them through a series of screens. By the end, you will have everything you need to follow up with the students, and this info helps create really smart tracking metrics.
Once you create ministry events in the app, you can take attendance or add new students at the event. The attendance screen features a picture of the student as well as their first name or nick name just in case you can’t quite remember everything about a newer student.
As you take attendance at events, the app is automatically generating graphs over time that highlight different statistical metrics. These will show you how your group is growing and how attendance is trending over time. The really helpful part on this screen is being able to show different graphs for gender, school breakdown or all of the students. This can help you catch any general issues that may be coming up as they happen.
Our favorite feature of the app is really putting all of the data to use on the Groups screen. You can create static groups where you control the participants like “My Leader Students” or “The Worship Team.” You can also create dynamic smart groups like “All the new kids from my last event” or “High school students that have come on a Wednesday but not on a Sunday in the last month.” With the powerful filters in the app, creating smart groups with the data you collect has never been easier.
The bonus feature that only works on iPhones but not on the iPad or the iPod touch (because they lack a phone number) is that you can then send a text message to everyone in those groups with personalized name holders. This will seriously cut down on those mass texts and allow youth pastors to say the same thing to a lot of students while using their own name.
The immediate roadmap for the app is to include a native iPad version in the fall of 2014 and a cloud based backend for accessing and taking attendance on the same database with multiple devices in early 2015. While we know that there are youth pastors out there that use Android devices, this app is launching on iOS only.
To sign up to be on the wait list, visit www.youthministrytracker.com. The app will debut later in August at 33% off for everyone on the list.