Text Messaging for Churches and Ministries
Bulletins, email newsletters, phone trees; you've tried them all. Bottom line? Core communication at your church is suffering. As a result, attendance is starting to dwindle, and that's the last thing you want. If people don't receive information about service changes or upcoming events; they won't participate.
Lack of participation means just one thing: your church might not have a future. You've tried a bunch of old school communication methods. You email out a weekly newsletter, you stick paper bulletins in mail cubbies, you've even made a phone tree for weekly prayer requests. Nothing seems to work. You need to give mass text messaging a try. It will change everything.
How Text Messaging Works for Churches
It all starts with a keyword. A keyword is a word, phrase, or acronym that represents your church or religious organization. When members want to stay in the loop, they text this unique keyword to a short code. A short code is a 5 or 6 digit phone number that used to send and receive text messages at scale.
For example, let's say you're a pastor at New Heights Methodist. You might want to reserve the keyword NEWHEIGHTS. If you want to simplify it a bit, NH will also do. Then, if members want to receive important announcements, or even weekly devotionals via SMS, they text NH to the shortcode 31996.
The Auto Reply
The auto reply, also known as an "autoresponder", is the first message your congregation members will receive after opting in to your list. Thank them for joining, and include any pertinent information or perhaps an encouraging word.
With text messaging for churches, you want to always focus on one thing: strengthening core communication. How can this be done? First, keep members in the know about last minute service change or cancellations. Next, increase attendance and participation at small group events or churchwide celebrations. Finally, send out inspiring devotionals that keep members in the right mindset all week long.
Brooklyn Community Baptist has grown at a rapid rate. Every week, they see 50-75 new members walk through their doors. Being an inner city church, they have a huge opportunity. They can develop relationships with troubled youth. They can help families in need. Most importantly, they can bring hope to an urban area. Brooklyn Baptist keeps the neighborhood together, and they want to maximize their reach.
Pastor Anthony greets his congregation every Sunday with an encouraging word and scripture reading. But, there's a problem. Halfway through his sermon, members start fidgeting. He saves his announcements for the very end, but he's afraid half of the members aren't even paying attention.
What can he do? Printing out announcements in a paper bulletin is borderline pointless, as most get tossed in the garbage on the way out. One day, Pastor Anthony is at his desk, working on this weekend's sermon. His phone buzzes, and he gets one new text notification. From there, it's history. He sees the opportunity here.
He heads over to SlickText.com, and signs up for a $29 plan. He skips the free option, because he’s confident this communication method will work. When he sends out a text message reminding the congregation of weekly events, the attendance increases by 20%.
How Can SMS Grow Your Church?
When you keep everyone in the loop, there's a better chance of engagement. People want to know what's going on. They don't want to feel like outsiders. A religious institution should make everyone feel welcome, not the opposite. If you don't create a sense of community, you won't observe increasing attendance.
Sending text blasts grow your church by making new members feel welcome, keeping current members in the loop about important events, informing the entire congregation about last minute service changes, and finally; keeping up with the mobile reliant youth population.
Why Choose Texting?
Out of all other communication solutions, what makes texting perfect for churches?
- Everyone can receive texts.
- Over 90% of all texts are opened within the first five minutes.
- The average American looks at their phone 150+ times a day.
- It's affordable. At just pennies per text, it's cost effective.
What can we gather from this data? Texting is the most popular modern communication method. Everyone texts, and churches should capitalize on this popularity. If you text information to your congregation members, you can also guarantee they will read and engage.
How to Get Started
1. Reserve Your Keyword
You'll want to reserve a variation of your church name. For example, if you attend Southern Tier Baptist Alliance, reserve STBAPTIST. Keep it simple, but also make sure it's unique to your institution. Also, make sure it's short and sweet.
For example, Southern Tier Baptist Alliance shouldn't use SOUTHERNTIERBAPTIST. That's way too long, and can easily be mistyped. To sign up for your church communications list, members will text the keyword STBAPTIST to our five digit shortcode, 31996.
2. Set Your Auto Reply
Your auto reply must confirm their subscription to your communications list. You can also include any pertinent information; even an encouraging message. This is the first text message your members will receive, so make sure it's relevant and valuable. It should represent your institution.
Here's a great example.
Thanks for connecting with Southern Tier Baptist! Stay tuned for announcements, words of encouragement and special reminders. You are loved & appreciated! - Pastor Jim
3. Inform the Congregation
Now remember, this isn't a marketing tool. But, you do want to encourage opt ins, as this will assure that everyone stays in the loop. Your core communication efforts won't be in vain.
- Ask the pastor to make an announcement.
- Print opt in details on your bulletin or weekly newsletter.
- Share opt in info on social media.
- Insert a sign-up widget on your website.
- Send out an email invite.
4. Regularly Text Your Members
Don't collect a list of phone numbers, and then only send out one message every two months. Make the most of this communication tactic. At the very least, send out weekly devotionals and service reminders. Remember, regular engagement is key. The consistant touches will keep you "top of mind" with your members. In addition, you can use tools like SMS surveys, drip messages, and other text message automations to put some of that work on autopilot.
Sample Texting Ideas for Churches
Enhance the spiritual health of your church members. Fire out weekly devotionals or inspiring texts that encourage people to stay on the right path.
Remember, God does not give you more than you can handle! Feeling down this week? Read 1st Corinthians 10:13. We'll be reviewing this passage on Sunday.
Service Delays or Cancellations
Prioritize member safety with our texting service. Instantly fire out any sort of urgent communication. This will ensure everyone keeps safe and stays in the know.
Parents & teens, youth group is cancelled tonight due to the freezing rain. Stay safe, and we'll see you Sunday!
Make sure the entire congregation knows what's happening. Everyone reads their text messages!
Don't forget about tomorrow's pot luck dinner at 6PM! We'll see you there! - Pastor Jim
Prayer chain requests make it to people much faster via text message than any other way.
Please pray for our missionaries as they are traveling though some dangerous parts of the Ukraine tomorrow afternoon.
Small Group Reminders
Small groups are important. They help church members connect on a more personal level. Remind all potential attendees of an upcoming event with a simple text message.
Reminder: Our very first Men's Small Group will be meeting this Tuesday at 7PM in the North Lobby. Bring your Bible, pen, and paper.
Testimonials from Our Church Customers
We're in love with the website! It's like switching from a PC to a Mac, so easy to use!
Slicktext is a real blessing! Their mass texting service has really helped our church members stay in the know. I highly recommend their service to any business or organization that wishes to keep a steady connection with possible members, consumers, or participants.
Helpful Text Messaging Resources for Churches
Before you get started, consume some of these helpful resources about text messaging for churches. Learn how you can get the most out of our service, and what types of messages will give members the best texting experience.
- SMS Marketing Learning Center
- Beginner's Guide to SMS Marketing for Churches
- Advanced Guide to SMS Marketing for Churches
- Text Marketing Best Practices for Churches
It's not as much about why shouldn't you use texting to grow your congregation. Instead, it's more a question of why wouldn't you?
Don't put off your church growth. Hop on the texting bandwagon and sign up for your free plan today.
P.S. Not ready to sign up? Give us a call at 1.800.688.6290 or shoot us an email. We'll walk you through the entire process, and give you personalized recommendations.