General Ministry
Josh Griffin

From time to time I post a question that comes into the blog for YOU to answer. What advice would you give this youth pastor who is asking about tracking youth group attendance in their youth ministry. Weigh in!

Hey, I was wondering if you have a process for tracking students so you know when they aren’t there on the weekend. We are struggling with this right now – what are the best practices, tools or systems you use that would inspire us to create one of our own. Would appreciate any insight.

In all honesty … we don’t have a system where I serve currently! Please help him out – and maybe I’ll steal yours, too!


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  • joel says:

    About a year and a half ago we were at the same place with our middle school ministry – no tracking. We decided to end our large group meeting by splitting into connection groups (we divide by grade & gender) for about 8 minutes. This gives our high school and adult volunteers a time that they can own and a chance to take attendance. After about 6 weeks we go through and add up how many weeks a person has attended and compare it to the last 6 weeks. If the number has dropped significantly, we let our volunteers know and try to reach out to them.
    This is also really helpful because when a person comes for the first time, we can welcome them, get their address, and as soon as our service is over our volunteers write a note that we drop in the mail the next day. Major win.
    Track attendance is not exciting. But it is absolutely worth it.

  • Dave says:

    We use Shelby Systems as a whole church in all areas. It’s not very user friendly I don’t recommend it.

  • Jason says:

    Agreeing with Dave. We use Shelby too and it is a disaster. There are only two people in our church that really know how to “use” it. From my understanding, Shelby was created through DOS. So, a major update to this program would require rebuilding it from the ground up. Look elsewhere for more user-friendly tools.

  • Andrew says:

    We use youth ministry tracker. It’s been great for us because it allows us to keep lots of information on students that we can pull up at any time. It also allows you to use a scanner to scan in students or allows students to sign in manually via a computer, iPad, or iPhone.

  • Alex Gorrod says:

    I think it really matters what size of a group you are talking about. If you are talking 10-20, 20-40, 40-60, 60+ it can make a real difference in how you track them. I have been using Envision for many years now, but it doesn’t really accomplish all my needs, so a lot of my tracking stuff I do myself. We have around 70-90 youth every month in our group, around 35 on typical wednesday (main service). So doing a lot of it by hand isn’t a huge issue for me, though it does eat up an hour a week to enter in information. I have never found a program that meets all my needs. I think the main thing is to look at what it is you want to track. If it is names, numbers, emails, pictures (for a directory), attendance numbers (for the board), so you can know who is missing, etc… Once you know that and the size of the group you should be able to find something that kind of fits (nothing will be perfect).

  • Cooper says:

    We use FellowshipOne for our entire church database it allows for check in and we have 5 check in stations before you enter the youth room. It also prints out a name tag which is nice.

  • Cory says:

    Joel – ur comment was super helpful! We do something similar but it seems like you definitely have a little more structure – I like it. Just started playing around with Simply Youth Ministry’s new EVENTS tool for this kind of thing and am hopeful it might be a good solution.

  • Kevin says:

    We have a smaller youth ministry (20-30) and I track using a app on my iPad called Attendance. It’s fairly neat. You customize the look. I’ve got our group logo on it. You can also set it up to have the youth enter their name in it theirselves as they enter. I’ve also used iAttendance as well. I do realize these won’t work for larger youth ministries though.

  • Scott says:

    Just to throw another option in the mix for you. I have been using Lambslist by microframe for about 2 years. It can be somewhat cost prohibitive at $500 a year. But it does missing reports for you, will do multi-room setup (we use it in children’s ministry and youth ministry), as well as multi-campus setup. It will do iPad printing back to a central machine hooked up to a dymo label printer. It could fit just about any size with the right amount of machines. it can act as your database (it’ll print address labels) and your check in system. The only drawback we’ve had is that it’s web-based so if for any reason you’re without internet access for a weekend you have no check in system.

    find out more about it, lambslist.com

  • Sayre says:

    YouhTracker (now MnistryTracker) is wonderful. As sad before, it keeps students’ information and an attendance record. You can link it to their Facebook page for pictures. We’ve been using it for 4 years now.

  • Chris Loach says:

    I throw a laptop on the checkin table and pull up a Google Doc I’ve created. You can make the webpage a full page and have it look however you want. ex: students name, grade, phone, email, etc. It looks like a website, they type their info and it puts it into a Google Doc Spreadsheet. Works great and is free! Minus the laptop…

  • Daniel Green says:

    We have built our own tracking system from the ground up in a excel spreadsheet.

    Our process from there looks like this for a new person:

    1) Collect name, contact mobile no., name of friend who invited you
    2) Assign new person into the small group of the friend who invited them (Small group leader meets them on the night)
    3) Send out a list of new people immediately after the finish of the event with contact info
    4) Leader of small group follows up the new person via text message OR adding them on Facebook
    5) Once new person has been added on Facebook add them into youth ministry Facebook group

    This immediately assigns discipleship responsibility, allows new person to feel like they belong and gives us the ability to track whether they connect in or not.

    We use the spreadsheet to track if new people are being connected in to community (as we record attendance of each person every Friday night), monitoring to see if small groups are getting too large (and multiplying them if that needs to happen), long term attendance, attendance by small groups to allow evaluation of effectiveness of small group leaders…

    I could go on. I love excel because it gives me the freedom to analyze and move data around freely. I would hate to have to used a hardwired unchangeable software / database package!

    Hope these ideas help someone 🙂

    • Rich Nickel says:


      I like the way you think. But the way you could really help someone is email me the spreadsheet so I can use it! 🙂


  • Marshall Parker says:

    I had struggled with this in the past, looking for a good solution, both for the church I was at, and to help some friends out with things to use for their churches. After evaluating several, I decided to write my own software and it is being used by quite a few churches now. Feel free to check it out under the name YouthGroupTracker. (.com for the website)

  • I’ve used a number of systems over the years. When I he no budget I used a printed out Excel sheet and had volunteers put a check beside their name as they came in. I eventually purchased NetBooks and used an excel sheet on it. We used a simple command code that would create a time stamp for when they came in. At my current church we use a church wide program called “Church Community Builder”. This system is great. We can use ID badges, finger print scanners or they can type their name in. For our purposes, it’s easiest for them to type in their name.

    We aren’t strict about them signing in. Actually, starting next month we will no longer have our HS students sign in, we will just have a “visitor booth” and try to get their information there.

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