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GUEST POST: Youth Tracker

 —  May 8, 2011 — 7 Comments

A few months ago, I noticed a major weakness in our student ministry administration. It seemed like we had a revolving door of student visitors with no sense of follow-up. We had informational cards, but it never seemed like we did anything with them. The result was seeing new students come week after week, but finding that we were ineffective in drawing them in to stay. A youth pastor friend of mine, Cody Mummau, turned me on to YouthTracker.net last November and it has changed the way we gather information and follow-up with students. YouthTracker is an online database system that inputs students, staff, leaders, and parents into one easily accessible dashboard. As a result, we have seen more consistency in our core group of students and it has given us an idea of the new students and MIA students that we need to follow-up on. The work on the front end is a little tedious, but it’s so easy once it’s set up. Here’s how we roll…

1) First, we have students fill out a basic info card that looks like this, just for some starting details to create a student profile.

2) One of my volunteers searches for the student via Facebook/Twitter and adds them. There’s a place where you can go into their YT profile and link it to their social networking profiles. This makes it easy for one of my volunteers to search for a student and makes it super easy to match faces with names. After that, we’ll invite the student to add or “Like” our ministry Facebook profile or page.

3) The next time that a student comes in to our service, all they have to do is sign-in with their name via one of our computer kiosks! An event is created prior to the service, but all the students see is a sign-in screen. At the end of the night, I can check the event details to see which students were present and which ones weren’t. You can even update it on the spot in case someone forgot to sign-in. When my volunteer inputs the new students and signs them in, the event details show “NEW” beside that student’s name.

Here are a few of the features we’ve found most effective:

  • Event Numbers — I know, I know, you’re NOT about the numbers. But that nifty line graph helps give you a true idea of your week-to-week attendence.
  • Contact Reports — This feature shows every student in your ministry along with two sections: the last time they attended an event and the last time they’ve been contacted (a leader has an option to record a contact {i.e. phone call, FB message, one-on-one time etc.}). This ensures that no student falls through the cracks. There’s also a sub-feature here where it will make a student inactive at a set time. Ours is 120 days. But if that student returns and signs in, no big deal. It makes them active once again.
  • Address/Google Maps — Ever had your volunteers call you looking for a student’s address? No headache now! Their address is synced up with Google Maps. Schwweeeeet!
  • Text Message/Email Service — You can text (5 cents per student) or email (free). The great thing about this feature though is that you can target certain students according to your events. So you can send a text to the students who were at your large group meeting saying, “Hey guys! Thanks for a great night! Remember to love extravagantly this week.” And to the students who could make it: “Hey guys! We missed you tonight. We read from Matthew 22:34-40 tonight and talked about loving God extravagantly. Hope to see you next week!”
  • Address Labels – This has saved us hours of time. To send out postcards, just go to “print address labels” and WAH-LAH! That information you put in from the info card transfers right onto an address label template.
  • Demographics/Schools – This gives you an idea of your student makeup from a list of schools (you can also input the school address and the student’s lunch), grades, gender, nationality, etc.
  • Student Growth – You can move students through various stages (core, committed, community, visitor) and log their commitments (salvation, baptism, filled with the Spirit, etc.).
  • Student Account — Your financial volunteer will love you. You can utilize the student account feature to keep up with retreats, trips, etc. It even has their T-Shirt size for that missions trip!
  • Areas – Want to track your middle-school and high-school ministry separate? No problem!

There’s a host of other details that would take me forever to explain. This resource has been so valuable to us. Though we all hate administrative duties sometimes, its kind of a necessary evil in student ministry. This tool makes it easy to get past the follow-up and informational stuff, freeing up time to do what’s important: build relationships with kids. The best $25 a month we’ve ever spent. Check it out!

Bradley K. Chandler is a graduate of Southeastern University and is the Student Ministries Pastor at Trinity Worship Center in Burlington, NC. Be sure to subscribe to his blog here — good stuff for sure.

Josh Griffin

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7 responses to GUEST POST: Youth Tracker

  1. we use youth tracker as well.

    a question….

    How do you folks manage the follow up? When do you call or contact the kids? I have tried some stuff in re: to f/u with YT and haven’t been successful.

    Thanks Aaron

  2. We’ve been using Youth Tracker for 5 months. Love it. We do check in with iPads and works well. Very easy to use interface.

  3. Been using them for the last 2 years. GREAT customer service. I had something I wanted to do (add attendance WAY after the event had been auto deleted). I called them and within a day they literally programmed the function in. They keep getting better. Its been great at graphing out my attendance and group breakdown. I highly highly recommend.

  4. Brad Chandler May 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Hey Aaron. We generally follow up with visitors via Facebook. One of my volunteers friends them from our youth ministrys profile. Similar to HSM, we slipped under the wire with a profile that functions as a person rather than a page.

    As far as MIA students, I’ll scroll through the contact reports and personally call, visit, or Facebook the student. Whatever works best. I would imagine that the larger your group is, the more of a team you would need. Sounds like a good idea to have students lead in…just sayin’ ;)

  5. ” We generally follow up with visitors via Facebook. One of my volunteers friends them from our youth ministrys profile. Similar to HSM, we slipped under the wire with a profile that functions as a person rather than a page.”

    Im interested in finding out how this is done…. can you give me some direction? =) thanks!

  6. Jake Rasmussen May 26, 2011 at 10:37 am

    YT is a good resource for sure. But, Simply Youth Ministry is getting ready to set up the game with Simply Youth Ministry Tools! Check it out: http://simplyyouthministrytools.com

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Friday Update – 13 May 2011 | theDaveJohnson.net - May 13, 2011

    [...] blog post of the week: This weeks blog post once again comes from Joshua Griffin’s MoreThanDodgeBall.com and is written by Bradley K. Chandler, the current Student Ministries Pastor at Trinity Worship Center in North Carolina. He talks about the process they go through in tracking students. Read through the full post here. [...]

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