Ever since the iPhone first came out, it has been an invaluable tool for my ministry. I have always been on the lookout for great apps that can be used to help with ministry, and have even written on them here, here, and here. I am constantly downloading new apps to see if they will fit into my workflow and make ministry easier and more effecient.
Even though there are at least 1.2 million apps in the app store, I had yet to find an app specifically geared towards youth ministry productivity – until today. The newly released Youth Ministry Tracker is specifically designed with youth ministry in mind and will make tracking and communication with your students so much easier.
There is a lot to like about the app. Its still in its infancy 1.0 status, but its a VERY capable first step. You are able to input basic information about your students (name, school, age, grade, contact info, parents, etc) and even take a picture of them to remember them. You then can track their attendance at events. You can also place them in groups to help keep track of them better – either manually or using the great smart filters provided (by school, age, grade, gender). You can create a list of all the males in 8th grade at one specific middle school. Or you can create all the female students who were absent from your events last month. Its a great feature that will allow you to do some new things in your ministry.
You can also communicate with the student directly from the app. You can text, call, or email the student. You can also contact parents as well in the app. It will make communicating with students so much easier.
You are also able to add events in order to track attendance. You can put in weeky recurring events such as youth group, Sunday school, etc. You can also put in one time events. This isn’t exactly revolutionary, but combined with the smart filter groups you can see exactly who was and was not there last week, last month, etc. and respond accordingly. Also, you take attendance by clicking on the picture of the student, not the name. So, its real easy to look around and see who is there and who is not, and not have to ask the name of the new kid who came last week and you’ve already forgotten their name (don’t judge, you’ve done it too!).
The one “bad” thing is that there are features missing – its currently iPhone only, you need to input all fields before being able to move on, no iCloud sync, weak stats reporting. These are not deal breakers, especially since I know the development team is working on them. Since in my “day job” I work with a similar database check in system for food pantries, I can let you in on a little secret – these things are always in “beta” development. You can spend forever adding feature after feature and never actually release the product, or you could release something and then add to it as you go along. The best way to learn what you need to focus on next is to release it and let actual users tell you where to go. This is a fully functional app, and the level of sophistication and thought put into this 1.0 version has me excited for where this team will take it next.
One downside is that it does take time to put in each student. Not a long time, but if you have a hundred students it could be a couple hour affair. I think the team is working on an import solution, but until that is available this will be hard for larger youth ministries to use. If you have a smaller group, though, this won’t be an issue.
The other downside is the cost – $14.99. I’ll admit it, I am cheap. If I can find a good app for free, I’ll hop on it. That being said, $14.99 for this app is a bargain. You’ll pay twice that – EACH MONTH – for many of the other tracking programs that don’t even have a native app. You’re also helping to support future development of this app to become even more full featured.
The Final Word
I highly recommend you check out this app. You can check out their website with screenshots and explainations at http://www.youthministrytracker.com.
You can also purchase the app on the itunes store by clicking here.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve tried the app out and what you think!
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