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5 Ways Church Text Messaging Connects With Your People

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59% of millennials who grew up in church have dropped out. Why? That’s a huge can of worms. There are plenty of theories – some based on data and others based on mere opinion. I believe at least one reason why we’ve failed to reach this younger generation of people has to do with the way we communicate about who we are and what we believe. I’m talking about church text messaging.

We generally tend to promote the church either through mass-marketing methods, like direct mail or print advertising, or we don’t promote the church at all and just assume people should know we exist and feel some moral obligation to find us on the weekend.

In the last decade, our culture has experienced a massive shift, thanks in part to technological advances. It’s not all bad. In fact, if we understand it, it’s actually quite good. When the internet first went online, businesses and news organizations – and eventually a lot of churches – adopted it as a mass communication tool. But things changed with the creation of various social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Social media forced businesses and news organizations to focus more on personalization.

The church is starting to catch on and adopt social media platforms as a means of connecting with people and spreading a message of hope. We’re a bit behind, of course, but we’re starting to catch up. As the church begins to utilize social technologies, the youngest generation may already be moving on from social networks to much more personal means’ of communicating, especially church text messaging.

Church text messaging, as an outreach and communication tool, is HUGE! I believe rather strongly that we should stop asking people to turn their cell phones OFF during worship services and instead, ask them to turn them ON and use them…

    • For accessing Bible apps
    • To interact with the service
    • To snap and share photos and videos
    • To check-in and share about their church

According to Text In Church,

  • 23 billion texts are sent each day
  • 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes
  • 45% of texts receive a reply

The question is, how can the church tap into text messaging as a means of reaching more people and making more disciples?

While we’re still learning in this arena, here are some thoughts and practices that may be worth implementing and experimenting with. Some of these, my church is already doing, and some of them, we’re just talking about.

5 Ways Church Text Messaging Connects With Your People

1. Helping people plan their first visit.

Our church website utilizes a service from Church Hero called Plan Your Visit.

It allows people, from any page of our website, to click a button and let us know they’re coming. We then, in turn, send them a text with information about the service time they chose, and then we send them a reminder text.

Our First Impressions Director prepares one of our first-time guest gift bags especially for them with their name on it.

2. Allowing people to text-to-give.

We manage all of our online giving with Planning Center Online. There are tons of competitors on the market and each has their advantages, but Planning Center’s Online Giving app integrates seamlessly with our people tracking, volunteer scheduling, kids’ check-in apps, etc.

One of the features we use is the text-to-give feature. Donors can send a dollar amount to a five-digit phone number via text and they’ll be guided through the process of making sure it gets to us. Once they’ve given by text once, it’s set up forever and is simple and easy to do.

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Brandon Cox is Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding, and social media. He and his wife, Angie, live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.