Should You Text Your Church Community?

032As of this January, 90% of American adults own a cell phone, and 81% use their phones to send or receive text messages.

Most people keep those phones within arm’s reach all day—and night. On average, they look at their phones 150 times each day—whether or not a call, message, or alert has come through. In fact, 75% of Americans won’t even make a trip to the restroom without that connection to the world.

While this reliance on technology can be a challenge to overcome when leading a worship service or teaching a room full of teens, churches can take advantage of the texting craze to communicate with their people.

Why texting?

Texting can be quick—for both the sender and the receiver. Traditionally limited to 160 characters, texts can communicate a brief message in a matter of seconds. And unlike emails that may go unnoticed for hours or days, they’re usually read within 5 seconds.

That’s why text messages are ideal for short, timely alerts like cancellations, reminders, and emergency notifications. If a service is cancelled due to icy roads or a small group has to switch its meeting location last minute, shoot a quick text to all participants. The timeliness of these mobile communications can prevent the frustration of people showing up to an empty building because they didn’t get the memo.

Texting doesn’t have to replace all other methods of reaching people—it can complement your existing communication process. For years Facebook stood as one of the greatest ways to notify people of urgent information. But with recent algorithm changes, your updates are getting through to fewer and fewer people. So adding a text to the mix will increase the number of people you can reach in just a short time.

While texts should be concise, sometimes you might want to expand upon the message. You can include links to more detailed information on your website—and now that 58% of cell phone owners have a smart phone, many people can easily access those links. They’re actually almost five times as likely to follow that link in a text message rather than an email.

Whether you’re contacting 7,000 church attendees or 15 small group members, mass texting can simplify the communication process. This tool is available as a free resource from Elexio for churches that use our ChMS. You can text everyone in the church who has a mobile phone number listed, or communicate with a smaller group or list of people based on certain criteria. It’s a fast and flexible way to stay connected with your community.

Before you get started…

  • Have people opt in to receive your texts or at least inform them that providing a mobile phone number will automatically sign them up for those alerts unless they opt out. Some people don’t have unlimited texting and could be faced with unexpected fees if you don’t give them proper notice.
  • Although you want to maintain this form of communication, make it easy for people to opt out of texts if they prefer other contact methods.
  • Properly manage the phone numbers in your database so you’re not trying to text a landline or a phone that can’t receive text messages.
  • Don’t spam people with repetitive, unimportant text messages. People will quickly opt out to avoid these annoying texts.
  • Avoid the junior high text talk—TTYL, LOL, JK—but do get to the point and keep messages as brief as possible. Always proofread before you hit send and look for any spelling errors.
  • Remember that texting is ideal for brief, time-sensitive alerts that don’t require a personal interaction. Don’t send long texts that might break into multiple messages or discuss serious issues that demand a face-to-face conversation.
  • Consider the demographics and technical ability of your individual church community before implementing this strategy. Texting is probably not the best solution if your congregation still prefers rotary phones. Do they own cell phones and know how to text? Is mobile the best way to reach them?

When you’re in a pinch and need to reach your church community fast, why not send the message directly to their fingertips?

Check out some more information on texting and mobile technology for the church:

5 Reasons Your Church Should Consider SMS Text Messaging for Outreach

How to Engage Your Church Community through Mobile

Mobile Technology and the Church 

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

 

10 Comments
  1. Eric Dye

    SMS is so easily overlooked. Great stuff. :)

    1. Emily Kantner

      Thanks, Eric!

  2. Dennis

    Most of the congregation in my church may have a cell phone for emergency communication, but they do not text and some do not even have texting on their phone. This would not be of a great value in my church.

    1. Emily Kantner

      You’re right, Dennis. Texting isn’t the best option for every church. That’s why we recommend considering the demographics and technical ability of your people before making this move. Thanks for your comment!

  3. John Whitehead

    I like to use text messages as well as other tools to promote events. In our church I use printed paper bulletins that are given to everyone as they enter our Sunday meeting, a multimedia pre-recorded ‘Church News’ as well as SMS, Facebook Group, Facebook PM’s, Twitter email,& website to feed out messages and special event news. Using this full range of tools covers just all potential message recipients in some way(s). I find sms best for urgent messages such as venue or time changes etc. For promoting events facebook events is undoubtedly the most effective tool as I can set the option for invitees within the church to re-invite external friends where appropriate – its a great tool for spreading the word about outreach events.

    1. Emily Kantner

      Thanks for your comment, John. It sounds like you have a great well-rounded communication strategy!

  4. Jean Hanks

    Texting seems impersonal to me.

    1. Emily Kantner

      Thanks for your comment, Jean. Texting can seem less personal, which is why it’s best to limit text messages to information that must be quickly relayed like cancellations rather than serious discussions. Considering the demographic is also important, because a teenager and a baby boomer would have a very different opinion.

  5. Brian Adams

    Having people opt in is crucial. One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to, well a lot of things and how people like to receive communication definitely follows that maxim. We’ve measured response rates to an action item in a bulletin message and compared it to a response rate to text and we received more response to the text. We simply ask individuals to tell us how they want to receiev info and go from there.

    1. Emily Kantner

      That’s a great strategy, Brian!

Comments are closed.