HomeSoftwareMobile5 Innovative Ways Churches are Using Text Messaging

5 Innovative Ways Churches are Using Text Messaging


Text messaging (SMS) is fast becoming one of the most-used communication methods, especially among young people. Churches are starting to use text messaging for church communication. One of our new sponsors, TextMarks, works with churches around the country and has experienced first-hand some of the innovative ways churches are using text messaging for ministry:

1. Encouragement for Sojourners

One very large church has a dedicated SMS keyword for church members who are away at college, travelling/living abroad for an extended period of time, or serving in the Armed Forces. These are mostly people under the age of 25 who are away from home and their church community for the first time. Subscribers receive weekly words of encouragement, support ,and inspiration from the Church's pastor — as well as the occasional joke, just for fun.

2. Meeting Planning and Assignments

texting in front of churchMany churches are using SMS for meeting planning and assigning readings for Bible study groups. This also works for men's groups, women's groups, etc. This use case may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many churches haven't thought about segmenting lists for different audiences. TextMarks allows one church account to have a different manager for each keyword, making this kind of setup clean and easy.

3. Thought of the Week

One Youth Pastor sets up a new keyword for each meeting of the youth group and then has attendees text the keyword to discover the “thought of the week” — often a funny, irreverent, or topical way of discussing a core message from the bible. This allows him to take attendance at group meetings while reinforcing his theme for the week.

4. Rallying Emergency Volunteers

Many churches need volunteers for a variety of activities, sometimes at a moment's notice. These activities include prayer circles, emergency church repairs, collecting donations of food, cash or clothes for a church member in need, or even giving a ride to an elderly church member who needs a lift to Sunday worship. Several TextMarks churches maintain a standing army of volunteers who are ready to act when their mobile phone buzzes, anytime day or night. This is particularly valuable in areas when natural disasters are common– the Gulf Coast, the East Coast, and California come to mind.

5. Text Message Church Announcements

Every church makes announcements before or after services, but often times these announcements are lost in the shuffle of people coming and going. Many churches send weekly announcements to all members via text. These include upcoming events, updates on sick church members, financial needs for the church (and a link to a donation page), special services (particularly around major holidays) , etc.

What are some other ways your church is using text messaging in innovative ways?

Lauren Hunter
Lauren Hunter
Lauren Hunter is a writer who loves the big picture of God’s journey we are all on together. In 2007, she founded ChurchTechToday, a website for pastors and church leaders to harness technology to improve ministry. Married to her high school sweetheart, Lauren lives in Northern California with her husband and their four children. Her latest book is Leaving Christian Science: 10 Stories of New Faith in Jesus Christ. She can be found online at


  1. We use a church management software that has a allows texting to specific groups, but members have to “opt-in” to participate. Any thoughts about pro’s and con’s of this? Benefits of text messaging vs. privacy/expense of users?

    • That’s a really good question, Rebecca. Sometimes by having to Opt-in, it takes that extra step and people might not do it. I would probably do a group opt-in exercise during youth group or big church . . . have you done that already?

    • Opt in text messaging is the best to use for a couple reasons.

      The first being cost, like you said. Not all cell phone users have an unlimited plan and they can incur a cost to receiving the text message. When they opt in they know they are going to receiving something and when they opt out (texting STOP), they know they will no longer receive messages. This, while might seem like a barrier, is actually something that promotes trust with recipients.

      The second reason, and less likely, is to show that they wanted to receive them should a complaint be filed. The preferred method of sending group text messages is through a carrier approved short code, which means the text message will get priority over other messages and also services that offer sending through short codes are more apt to be following the rules put in place by the Mobile Marketing Association, thus resulting reduced likelihood of any complaints.

      Text messaging should only be a piece of your communication plan, just like any other communication medium, you won’t be able to reach everyone you’d like. With our service, we recommend users either do both text and voice messaging, or ask their recipients to specify a preference of voice, text or email so that they receive the message how’d they prefer.


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