Tuesday, November 19, 2013

All over the US, churches and religious groups are discovering the huge boost that text messaging can provide to their community outreach efforts. Nearly half of all teens cite text messaging as the single most important factor when deciding which cell phone or plan to buy. This is a key fact for churches who have difficulty engaging with teens and young adults.

The succinct nature of SMS communication is what makes it ideal for sending prayer requests and bible quotes. It’s also perfect for issuing missives regarding upcoming meetings and events. Here are just some of the ways in which churches are exploiting texting to reach their communities:
Prayer requests. Rather than writing requests on cards and dropping them into boxes at the Sunday Service, churchgoers can text in prayers as soon as inspiration hits them. The requests are collected automatically into a single document, printed out, and distributed to staff. Some churches are using side-screens to display requests during the service itself.
Live Q and A sessions. This is a fine way to foster engagement with the congregation. It also creates a more communal atmosphere, which is why so many churches are catching on. Church administrators can moderate questions as they come in.
Polls and quizzes. Like any large organization, churches are always striving for better inclusivity. This means keeping track of the needs of a congregation. There is no better way to do this than using group text messaging. The response rate is unbeatable compared to emails or pen and paper. The technology might be used to ask churchgoers for the preferred music for the upcoming service, or to take a vote on everyone’s favorite sermon. A group text can also be used to harvest information on expected attendance figures for an upcoming event.
Reminders and invites. Anyone who has organized an event involving large numbers of people will tell you how high the probability of things going wrong is. Times and dates change, as do locations. Cancellations can never be ruled out, especially where weather and outdoor events are concerned. Texting ensures a smooth transition from the initial invitation to the final update, thereby eliminating the crushing sense of disappointment felt by parishioners who show up for a cancelled event.
Inspirational messages. Bible passages, aphorisms, quotes, thoughts-for-the-day – all of these ideas are perfectly rendered in the form of a text. Encourage your congregation to engage (and attend service) by sending out group text messages containing spiritual guidance.