As a church or religious organization, you are constantly searching for the best way to keep your members informed and engaged. A text messaging service for churches can deliver exactly this. Your congregation will likely prefer being texted over using other contact methods, and it is an excellent method of sharing all types of communications.
The following information should help you use SMS marketing for churches, whether you want to grow your congregation or simply keep your current members informed.
What is church text messaging?
The term “church text messaging” is self-explanatory. It refers to when you use text messaging to stay in touch with your members. You can use text marketing for churches to follow up with visitors to your church, increase attendance at services or church events, gather contact information, share announcements, and more.
Why do people prefer texting?
If you look at statistics for text messages, you will see that they have a 98% open rate, and 90% of text messages get opened within just three minutes. Some figures also indicate that at least 66% of respondents prefer texting compared to email and phone.
But why do people prefer texting? Understanding the following reasons can help you appreciate the importance of mass text messaging for churches.
- It takes less time – Many people appreciate the fact that texting takes much less time than talking on the phone, as well as less time than sending emails. This makes it much easier to fit viewing and answering texts into a busy schedule.
- It works with multitasking – People are always on the go in today’s busy world. Because of the minimal time involved, texting easily works with the need to multitask.
- There is less pressure to answer immediately – Compared to a phone call, there is significantly less pressure to respond to a text right away. It is socially acceptable to leave the text unread until you have time to answer. By contrast, your congregation would have to answer a phone call right away. This lack of pressure means that texting is relatively stress-free.
- You can text even in noisy places – While you could theoretically talk on the phone in public, it may be hard to hear, and others can listen to your conversations. People appreciate the ability to text even if they are in a loud or public place.
- They can reference it later for information – If you share information about an event or upcoming service via text message, your parishioners can simply refer to the message later to refresh their memory of the key details.
How can SMS grow your church?
So, you know that your congregation will appreciate church communications via a text messaging service for churches, but how can SMS for churches grow your religious institution?
It can lead to church growth in a few different ways.
- Appeal to people’s preferences – We have already established that people prefer church communication via text message compared with other methods. By using SMS to communicate with your congregation, you show its members that you understand them. That can help attract new members and ensure existing ones feel comfortable.
- Boost attendance – Texting for churches before sermons can also improve service attendance by reminding the community about it beforehand.
- Build a community – As mentioned, people want to feel that they fit in with their church and are welcomed. You can also achieve this by building a community and deeper relationships. Offering the ability for parishioners to chat with your church leaders via text is one way to do this. Another is to invite people via text to attend various important events. That can be particularly useful if you segment subscribers based on their interests or demographics.
- Get mobile numbers in person – Any church official knows that one of the most significant sources of new members is getting one-time visitors to return. You likely already have some strategies for this, such as collecting contact information via a guest book after the service or event. You can kill two birds with one stone by asking for their cellphone number and consent to receive texts at the same time. If your church is involved in other community events, you can do this at those as well.
- Give people a way to ask questions – Offering the ability to text your church leadership will also give your current parishioners, new members, and visitors a stress-free and easy way to get information when they need it. If they have a quick question, such as what time services are at, they can just send a text. This will help significantly with engagement and parishioner happiness.
- Ensure you have enough volunteers – Texting can also help you ensure that your church has enough volunteers to run the various events or complete daily tasks that require them. For example, if no one can be in the office for a few hours one day, you could send a text asking for a volunteer to answer any calls while you are away. This can also extend to filling last-minute spots for volunteers in community projects via text messaging campaigns.
Best practices for sending text messages to church members
While mass text messaging for churches is incredibly helpful, you want to make sure that you follow best practices while doing so. This will ensure that you are legally compliant, keep everyone you text happy, and get the best results.
Make sure the phone numbers are valid
Do your best to only use valid phone numbers for your messaging. This is important for two reasons. First, you want to make sure that you reach the people you intend to reach. Second, you don’t want to accidentally send bulk text messages to someone who doesn’t want them or has no chance of ever visiting your church.
Determine the right timing
Figure out the ideal time to text your church members. You want to stick to regular hours, such as between 8 am and 8 pm. The goal here is to ensure your texts aren’t an inconvenience.
Text your church members regularly
Be sure to text your church members regularly but not too often. Just by sending one or two messages per week, you will keep your church in the mind of recipients. This means that they will expect future texts.
Set your auto-responses
Automation is incredibly helpful for SMS marketing for churches, especially in terms of auto-responses, which save you the hassle of having to reply to all messages immediately. At the very least, set an auto-response for new signups and one for outside of regular office hours.
Then, follow this up with two-way communication when appropriate. Even the largest churches can provide personalized messaging with auto-responses that give them time to respond.
Keep the text messages short
Always keep text messages short. Remember that some people may still have older phones that only fit 160 characters per message. If you have to share more information, include a link in the text or use email marketing instead.
Get approval of church members before texting
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about SMS for churches is that you need consent to use this strategy. Consumer protection laws apply to organizations like churches and businesses, so you must let parishioners opt in and give them the chance to opt out.
Getting approval is simple, and you can do so in various ways. When new members fill out a welcome form to capture guest information, have them check a box to give their consent. You can also have parishioners text a keyword like “COMMUNITY” to your number to opt in.
How to use a text messaging service for churches
With all of that background and advice in mind, explore some of how you can use text marketing for churches. We have also included a handful of examples and SMS marketing templates.
Inform the congregation
Send texts to inform the entire congregation about upcoming events, changes to the time of services, special hours, or any other important announcements.
This can also be an opportunity to inform your church of volunteer opportunities. You can even use texts to announce upcoming sermons or share resources related to recent sermons.
Reminder of the food drive going on this week. Drop off canned food items in the southwest corner of the church parking lot. Let us know if you have any questions.
You can gather a list of church members who are interested in receiving prayer requests. Then, send them daily or weekly lists of sick church members to pray for.
Sending your parishioners daily devotionals will help them with their faith and boost overall engagement. This is an example of taking local marketing tips and customizing them for churches. If you prefer, you can send inspiring texts instead.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16
Service delays or cancellations
Let your congregation know quickly with texts if you have to cancel a service or delay it due to weather, illness, or something else.
Because of the snowstorm, youth choir practice will be canceled today. Stay safe!
Church updates are also an example of informing your congregation. This refers to things like construction projects, leadership changes, new events, or even notifying youth groups of changes.
Hey Alex! We are having our yearly planning meeting for the Youth Group. Let us know of any ideas or feedback you have here: https://pdm.shortlink
Customer testimonials from your church
You can also use text messages to send prospective church members or visitors customer testimonials as a way to convince them to join your congregation. This lets you use bulk text messaging to encourage first-time guests to return.
Using a text messaging service for churches will streamline your religious organization’s communication strategy, improve engagement, and help you grow your church. The right service will make mass texting easy. For more ideas, explore our SMS marketing guide.