Youth Assistant 4
By Scott Mulhollen
Do you have a problem keeping track of all the students in your youth group? Youth Assistant 4 (YA4) solved all of my problems. This program covers all areas of youth ministry administration. YA4 gives you the ability to put in your students, visitors, and volunteers. In addition, for those like myself that have dual responsibilities, (I am a minister to youth, children and college age) this program can cover all ages.
Some of the features I love include:
- Automatically promote all ages when the school year changes
- Can enter both parents and step parents to send letters and flyers to each set
- Can personalize most of the areas - for instance, it keeps track of hobbies and sports that a youth likes. You can add sports not found on the list. (Here in Maryland, youth are big into lacrosse, which was not on the list, but I was able to add it.)
- Some shortcuts are available to minimize typing - you can click on an icon to easily transfer the youth's address over to the parent's address field.
- Search capabilities are excellent - you can search and organize by all categories or simply by a single word.
- Pictorial directory - create your own pictorial directory. Each youth's record has a place to put their picture. You can combine them all for a personal directory.
- Wizards - numerous wizard for postcards, letters, flyers, etc.
- Vast resources for the busy youth minister - need audio/visual equipment, but have no idea where to start? Go to the minister's resource section and click away.
I have looked at many different programs to try to organize my life. I have tried some specifically for ministry and also commercial programs (like Day-timer). None other comes close to this program. I would let you know that there are some things that I would like to see improved:
- With all the information that this program can hold for each youth, it would be nice to have a form that the youth could fill out that covers it all. YA4 does have a very generic form that you could use, but it does not cover all areas.
- One little quirk I did not like was when you finished typing the information in the first form, YA4 then asks you to put in the name again for a potential mailing label. It should automatically carry the name over.
- I love address books that automatically add dashes when you type in the phone number. YA4 does not do this.
- YA4 does not do a good job of importing or exporting data to other programs. I use Day-timer 2.0. I would have like to been able to transfer all of my data instead of manually typing each youth in again.
- This program is not like Day-timer or those like it which keeps track of appointments or a to-do list. It does keep good track of events, expenses, and youth attendance though.
The price tag for YA4 is $157. For those with a good expense account, it would be well worth the money. For the rest of us who don't, save up for the program. After using it, you will wonder how in the world you lived without it. Also, if you do not want to take my word on it, YA4 is offered in a fully functional demo version. You can play with all of its capabilities. The reason it is a demo is because you can only enter 10 youth and you have 60 days to use it before it stops working.
Scott is currently ministering at the First Baptist church in Hagerstown, MD.|
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