Here is my interview with the creators of Youth Ministry Tracker.
Ok Kurt, so let’s start at the beginning. Where did this app come from?
We’ve been working on it since January, but it started way before that. I’ve tried multiple database solutions and ended up just using spreadsheets. While they work, I just figured that there could be an easier way to take a ton of the time out of tracking student and attendance info. I also thought it was crazy that there were so many apps in the app store, but nothing that was for tracking youth ministry data.
So I approached my friend Reagan, who used to be a student of mine and is finishing up his degree in computer science at NNU, and he wanted to help build it. So we just started meeting once a week on google hangouts, pounding out design elements and code, and here we are.
Awesome. Can you explain what exactly does the app does?
Basically, you capture info from kids and capture attendance data and then do powerful stuff with that data.
So a typical scenario would be that a kid shows up at an event and you hand him an iOS device. He goes through a few screens and enters his personal data (birthdate, school, grade, gender, name, parent info, email, phone number, etc.) and takes a selfie. Once he’s in, he’s in. So you mark him as present for that event along with all the other students that showed up. And you can take attendance by photo, which can be really helpful. Then you can do all kinds of stuff with that data.
Real quick, you said iOS device. Does it work on iPod touches and iPads too? And what about Android?
Yes about iPods and iPads. At launch in August it’s going to be native for iOS7 on the iPhone and iPod touches, but you can install it on an iPad and run the scaled version. An iPad version that’s designed specifically for that size screen will come out later this fall. But it’s a universal app, so you won’t have to buy a different version. You can just run the iPad version. The only thing is that when you run it on an iPhone, you can text students, but not from the other devices because they don’t have a phone number associated with them.
As for Android, it won’t be on Android anytime soon. If for some reason it takes off on iOS and there is enough of a demand for Android, we may port it in the future. But for now, we’re just concentrating on iOS.
Cool. So the number one thing that I want in a database is to easily see and contact the teens that missed last night. Can it do that?
Yeah. You can create a smart group with the filter on it “All junior high students not present at Junior High Midweek Event in the last week.” Then on Thursday morning, you open up that group and it will automatically be filled with the students that fit the filter. You can hit send texts and contact all of them.
Amazing. So next big question, I’ve got a lot of volunteers and small group leaders. How does it get info to and from all of them?
Great question. The app doesn’t do that yet. We are working on cloud integration to be implemented at the beginning of 2015. So right now the app doesn’t have any web abilities/requirements at all. The app is self contained on one device and that is where all of the data lives.
Oh. Ok. Bummer. So then, what size ministry would you say that this is ideal for?
I would say that right now it’s ideal for anyone dealing with 100 kids or less. Maybe a dozen or less new students each week. But our goal is to scale with people’s ministries and allowing volunteers to use their devices and hook into the database that you are creating as the youth pastor is essential. It is the huge feature that we are working on, but it’s not ready yet. Does that make sense?
Yeah. Totally. So, when can I get it?
Well, based on the size of your ministry and the current limitations of the app, are you sure you want it?
Yeah. For now, I’ll use it with my life groups or other groups of teens that I’m in contact with to test it out and start building a database. When can I get it?
Ok. August for sure. We’re submitting it to the app store right at the beginning of August and then we’ll just wait for it to get approved. We’re announcing the launch to our wait list first. Everyone that signs up on youthministrytracker.com will get the first crack at it and get it for $10 at launch instead of $15.
So $15 for the app, but $5 off for people on the email list. Is that a subscription though?
Not a subscription. The real reason we built it was to solve the challenges and pain points that we have been experiencing in ministry and then make it affordable for anyone. I think I read some statistics that 90% of churches in America are 250 people or less. There aren’t many solutions out there for churches with very limited youth ministry budgets. We wanted to meet that need and then build on top of the solution to scale up to meet the needs of as many ministries as we can.
Awesome. I think it’s really going to help a ton of people. I’ll jump on the wait list and then just keep me posted for when it’s going to come out. Cool?
Yeah. Of course. Thanks for connecting. I’ll talk to you later.