When it comes to getting out important but short messages, texting delivers a big punch.
Consistent data is hard to find, but the consensus is that most people will open a text message and click on the provided links. Perhaps it's because receiving an SMS from an organization is still a novelty, but (with the right strategy) sending a few short texts can make a greater impact than sending a large number of wordy emails or print pieces.
Most Americans own a SMS-ready cellphone, which makes texting potentially your most effective means of communicating quick ministry messages.
Thankfully, many churches have already jumped on this bandwagon. You may already use texting to send your congregation weather cancellations, update event times and as a method for members to give. You may even use texting to connect with new members. Here are a few more ways to maximize this handy tool.
- Grab attention for God's word
The primary goal of the church is to share the gospel. If most people carry phones and open texts, it just makes sense to use texting to share God's word. Since brevity is key to effective texts, don't preach a sermon here. Instead, use a teaser quote and an appropriate Bible verse to promote Sunday's sermon. You may even want to send a "verse of the month" to your congregants.
- Heighten enthusiasm for a new hymn
Help your parishioners prepare for Sunday’s worship service. Get them humming with a link to a new song you plan to introduce, or text a line from a favorite hymn. Include a personal note about what the song means to you. You might also send a link to the backstory of a certain musical piece.
- Think differently about bulletins
Many congregations are reluctant to give up the traditional Sunday morning bulletin. Consider texting the order of service as a simpler and cheaper way to help your congregation follow along. A short text can include the basic program information and feature a link to a more detailed online bulletin posted on your website. (You may still want to have a small supply of paper bulletins available for those who do not have or use smartphones or prefer not to use devices during worship.)
- Personalize the pastor
Although it may have once been considered impersonal, texting is actually a great way to get to know people or allow them to know you. Texting a picture with a creative bio of the pastor, Sunday school teacher or other leaders can help your congregation feel more in touch with the ministries of your church. Keep it fun. For example, “Pastor John loves preaching, praying and peanuts. Planters are his favorite.” Or “Susie Roberts teaches the 3-year-old class where she loves to greet the kids and join them as they mold with Play-Doh.”
- Kick it up with the kids
Let’s face it: Parents use phones to entertain children. Instead of fighting the trend, use it to your advantage. Text parents links to kid-appropriate Christian YouTube videos or games. If you’re a really inventive teacher of young kids, try creating your own videos. For this, consider singing a fun song or reading a short Bible story. Once finalized, upload it to YouTube then send the link to the parents of children in your class.
If you’re not currently using text messaging as a regular feature of your communication plan, take the time to learn more about what texting is and why your church should give it a try. Also, check out various bulk text-message service providers for churches. Find a plan that works for you, and you’ll be on the path to discovering the ways that text messaging can enhance your ministry.
As with any good thing, don’t overdo your text messaging. Texting is taken more seriously when the frequency of receipt is limited. If you send more than one text a week (or four or five a month), people may start ignoring them. Texting is too much of an opportunity to miss due to a fear of change. Accept this as an opportunity to think creatively and find the method that works best for you and your members.
Tricia K. Brown is a writer, editor, keynote speaker and Bible teacher. In addition to being a wife and mother of four sons, she is the sole proprietor of The Girls Get Together, where she and her team provide women's event programs for churches and other organizations.