When I talk about tracking student attendance I am not talking about counting who is in the room. I have never met a student pastor who doesn’t know every week how many kids are in the room. We always want to know that number, heck our pastor might ask us and we need to be able to give that amazing number. JUST KIDDING, we all know we love that to get the head count. Besides telling us if we had more or less people in the room, what does it do for us? Instead of just worrying about the head count our team at Relevant has become focused on tracking individual student attendance. We ask teens to check in at a check-in station (We use Fellowship One) each week. This is our second year to track attendance and even though there is nothing cool or revolutionary about it and yes it will take a little effort to pull off and yes it takes time to get students used to checking in…IT IS WORTH IT. Here is why…
- It gives us a chance to welcome EVERY STUDENT // we hope that teens get welcomed by many people but when we do check-in we are guaranteed to have the chance to welcome each kid as they arrive.
- It gives us a chance to greet a teen BY NAME // every student wants to be known. Our check-in volunteers get to know kids by name. It makes a difference.
- It provides ACCOUNTABILITY // what happens on Thursday morning when a parent calls and asks if their kid was at your weekly gathering? For me I check the database and then email the small group leader to see if they made it to small group. Parents need to know we care about if their kids are safe and where they are supposed to be.
- It moves our passion from just seeking a big attendance number to the INDIVIDUAL // If you are like me my heart sinks when our total numbers are down and I am stoked when we reach 10 new kids. Tracking attendance allows us to move beyond that total number and actually mine for info in the number. We can actually see who comes, when they come, where they come from, how often they come, and then we begin to process that data. DATA helps us make good programming choices.
- It allows us to identify the GUEST // our kids bring friends all the time…when a guest shows up we want them to know we are excited. If we didn’t do check-in we would not know about these teens. When teens are new to your environment check-in allows us to move them into our guest system and make their night a little better.
Using a check-in system is paying off at Relevant. I know there is nothing exciting about check-in, but if we choose to ignore this aspect of our weekly gathering we may miss some opportunities for ministry. In our next stage of ministry we will use check-in to alert small group leaders when students are missing, to help remind us to do some crazy stuff for students on their birthday, and to identify what area’s of town might be good for other locations for REMIX. Our information system will help us make some of these moves and it sets us up for long term healthy growth. Yes, get that weekly head count but please understand a head count is made of of individual teens that matter to God!