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
Many 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?