Churches must promote their services and activities in order to keep existing members informed and engaged and expand their congregation. An impactful way to do this is through church texting services.
A church texting service is an effective means for church leaders to regularly stay in touch with their communities. From regular updates and event reminders to the confirmation of service attendance, church administrators can use a mass text messaging service to improve church correspondence and establish deeper relationships with members of the local community.
Also, text messaging for churches is an effective way to reach the local community via mobile phone communication. You can utilize a user-friendly platform offering mass texting for churches or other religious organizations. SMS marketing and mass texting can serve as highly effective ways to increase attendance.
This article explores why text messages are advantageous compared to other communication channels and describes a range of situations in which a texting service for churches can be leveraged to reach audiences far and wide.
So let's explore the potential benefits and use cases of text messaging for churches in more detail. We'll also help you determine the best mass texting service for churches out of five popular options available on the market.
Benefits of SMS for churches: Comparison with other marketing channels
When it comes to getting your messages directly in front of the right people, SMS often gets better results than email, phone calls, flyer drops, and even digital ads. Take a look at the benefits of using a church text messaging service below.
SMS is affordable and efficient
Churches rely heavily on donations from members and communities to fund operational costs. Marketing and communications can sometimes fall by the wayside if money and resources are tight.
Getting a church SMS service is a cost-effective solution. With a good service provider, you simply pay per text message sent, so the cost depends on your database's size (and the delivery destination). A text is delivered straight to the recipient's phone, where 98% of the time, it's opened and read.
Other channels are often more expensive or not as effective or reliable as texting. For instance, getting flyers designed, printed, and delivered locally takes time and money. And yet, flyers often get put in the bin without being read.
Digital ads can be very effective in driving traffic to a website. Still, they're not a practical option for delivering crucial or time-sensitive communications to a specific group of members. They can also be quite expensive.
And while email is often a cheap option for small churches, important messages can get lost in cluttered inboxes or filtered straight into the junk folder.
SMS appeals to the younger generation
Some churches place particular emphasis on younger audiences since this age group can be harder to attract and retain. In England, for instance, 38% of churches don't experience attendance of 0 to 16-year-olds, and even those churches that do have this age group attending are in decline.
If you want to spread the word about your church mission or upcoming events, using an SMS-powered church texting app will give you a good chance of reaching this group, perhaps even more so than preaching in a community. Why? Nearly 75% of Generation Z and Millennials prefer to have conversations by text instead of actually talking to people.
From event reminders to daily devotionals, texting for churches can become a critical component of your communication strategy going forward. Young people prefer texting to other forms of communication. With this in mind, a religious institution should embrace bulk text messaging to start actively engaging young people.
Ideal for mass messaging
At times, you may need to send a message to your entire congregation, for example, to communicate a change to the service schedule. With quality church texting services, you can send a single text blast to all of your members and have your message arrive virtually instantly. Texts can be personalized easily with church members' names and other information you might hold in your database.
5 ways to use texting services for churches
When it comes to engaging church members, church leaders must recognize the important role that bulk text messaging plays in church communication. From prayer requests to service reminders, text messaging for churches can open up two-way communication between church leaders and attendees. You can therefore think of a church messaging app as a church community builder.
Let's look now at how using SMS for churches could benefit your congregation as well as the local community.
1. Church attendance reminders
As well as communicating service changes or cancellations, you could send a quick text reminder a couple of days before a physical or virtual service to improve attendance rates. You could also send out reminders about church events held locally.
Hi [Member name]. Don't forget we have a special Easter service on Sunday at 10am. Children welcome. Cakes on sale afterwards.
2. Fundraising drives and donations
Church texting services can be used to encourage church donations or collect funds for charities or good causes, such as youth groups, the elderly, or the homeless. You can either send a mass text to church members with an online link to donate or put up posters displaying a unique number and ask the public to text a number to contribute.
Hi [Member name]. Can you afford to give a little to help fix our church roof? Your donation, small or large, is welcomed. Donate online: [URL]
[Charity name] needs your help to [cause details]. Make a difference with a small donation of [amount]. Donate online: [URL]
3. Attracting new church members
A good way to increase church attendance is to ask all members to ‘bring a friend' once a month. For those that do, you can ask them to opt into receiving information about the church by text. This will then allow you to follow up via a single text message sent to all potential new members.
Hi [Member name]. Know someone who wants to explore their faith? Why not bring a friend on [Date] at [Time] and introduce them to our church community?
4. Snippet sermons
Help the congregation worship at home and feel closer to their God with quotes or short sentences of wisdom from religious texts. You can include a link in your text message directing members to read full texts on your website or blog.
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16. Read more: [URL]
5. Request feedback
Enlist the help of your members to improve your church. Use church texting services to send out a short survey to get an idea of what's working and what's not. You can ask members to provide a numerical or alphabetical response to questions to allow them to respond quickly.
Hi [Member name]. What did you think of last Sunday's sermon? Did it inspire you? Reply Y or N.
How could we improve Sunday's sermon? Text 1 for more stories. 2 for audio clips. 3 for different delivery style. 4 for make shorter.
Real-life use cases of mass text messaging for churches
Many churches around the world partner with church texting service providers.
One case that made headlines was when the United Method Church sent out life-saving texts across Africa twice a day during the Ebola crisis. SMS was chosen partly because of its ability to transmit in remote areas that didn't have internet access. The messages, aimed to inform and reassure, were first sent to trusted clergy leaders and were then shared across wider networks to reach as many people as possible.
The Church of England has issued guidance for parishes that includes information about digital donation requests. The organization acknowledges that ‘text-to-give' campaigns (a type of keyword texting where people text a unique code to donate a certain amount of money to a cause) have great potential for one-off fundraising events in areas that attract tourists, ramblers, and young people. (These groups may be more likely to carry phones in their pocket than cash.)
5 best church texting service providers
With Messente's SMS messaging service, you can send texts to all kinds of audiences anywhere in the world, which is a major advantage over most other specialized texting services for churches. Another department in which Messente wins over its competitors is customer support, which is offered to all clients, big and small, without any extra hidden charges.
Apart from its global reach, other notable features offered by this church text service include:
An easy-to-understand, intuitive online dashboard that can be used by even those who are not very tech-savvy
Convenient contact list management
Easy message scheduling and automated reminders
Dedicated short codes as well as long codes, depending on your requirements
Two-way messaging for individuals and groups
Sophisticated church notification system to deliver urgent and non-urgent texts via one-way mass messaging
Omnichannel messaging, where you can use text messaging for church, but in combination with other channels such as Viber
Compliance with global texting rules and regulations, ensuring a safe experience for churches and their congregation members
Easy integration with other systems, such as CRMs and project management tools
Real-time reporting and analytics to monitor your church SMS campaign performance
Amazing scalability in terms of not just easily reaching much larger audience sizes but also affordability, thanks to the discounted volume pricing
Since Messente is not a service limited by a specific use case or industry, it is trusted by a diverse portfolio of client organizations globally, who can vouch for its reliable services and support. With a far-reaching adaptive routing system, you get better deliverability than other geo-restricted service providers.
The cost of sending text messages is not fixed, unlike services that offer rigid pricing packages with strict upper limits on quantity. It varies depending on how many texts you send, making the pricing model ideal for clients whose audiences might scale up or down over time. But even for low SMS volumes, it's a much more reasonable option than other church texting apps that come with inessential embellishments.
To get a cost estimate, you can visit Messente's pricing page.
2. Text in Church
As the name suggests, this one is a dedicated church texting software that doesn't cater to any other use cases.
Text in Church offers personalized messaging via your own unique local number, so you don't have to reveal your personal phone number. It also has Android and iOS apps for greater access. Apart from text-to-join keywords, the software also gives you the option to add new people to your texting list by allowing them to fill in a connection request or by uploading a CSV file of new contacts in one click.
Their group texting service for churches comes with a twist. Responses to your group messages are converted to individual threads so you can receive each response and handle it independently, away from any clutter.
Pricing for Text in Church SMS software is a bit on the higher side, with the cheapest basic package allowing 500 texts in a month for $31.
Tithe.ly offers a suite of services besides email and text messaging for churches, including websites, apps, and church management systems. All these services are priced differently, but let's focus on their text services for churches here.
Starting at $19 for 500 SMS messages a month, Tithe.ly covers text blasts, two-way messaging, and automated workflows. The inbox that comes with their text message service for churches and ministries is quite smooth and well-organized, too, making it easy to use and manage.
The pricing makes it a more viable option than many of its competitors, but it is still nowhere near Messente's pricing plans. For every additional 500 texts over the initial 500-text limit, Tithe.ly charges an extra $10, which can quickly rack up to quite a significant amount for larger audiences.
PastorsLine's text messaging service for churches is offered in conjunction with a phone calling service. It focuses on bringing existing communities closer and capturing new audiences. They target many types of users, from pastors and administrative staff to campus and VBS directors.
Key features include church text alerts, keywords, autoreplies, contests, easy contact management, templates, and tags.
They have very extensive pricing packages, making it a bit confusing to decide on a single plan. The 30-day trial gives you 500 text messages free of cost. After the trial expires, you will have to subscribe to one of the paid plans that start from $15 per month for 500 messages.
ClearStream is a church text message service with a diverse set of offerings, which includes text messaging, MMS and video messaging, live polls, dedicated shortcodes, QR codes and sign-up forms for opt-in, an in-built URL shortener, virtual church contact cards, and other features.
For those who want to try out this church mass text messaging service before making a long-term commitment, a 14-day trial offers all features for free. But after that, you get 1,250 credits for $29 a month, and prices go up as the volume increases.
Texting regulations for religious content
There are different regulations and guidance about using SMS for marketing purposes that you need to be aware of before texting your congregation. These regulations differ by country. As a starting point, familiarise yourself with the TCPA, CTIA, and the GDPR. The latter relates to data protection laws in Europe and the UK, while the former covers telemarketing regulations and guidance in the U.S.
CTIA, for instance, represents the U.S. wireless comms industry and companies in the mobile ecosystem. This association has produced a short code monitoring handbook that sets out how short code programs (text campaigns to a short code number) should be operated and managed.
Within this handbook, there's a section detailing prohibited content, which includes SHAFT (sex, hate, alcohol, firearms, tobacco), gambling, sweepstakes, and contests. While it doesn't specifically mention restrictions on religious text messages, be mindful that depending on the type and level of the religious content you want to promote, it could be deemed unlawful, unapproved, or illicit.
Another essential point to note is that you must get express written consent if you intend to text your congregation to promote your church and its activities. You should do this at the same time as capturing phone numbers. The TCPA explains this in more detail.
How to get started with church texting solutions
The first thing you need to do is start collecting phone numbers from your church's members. You could use an online form or ask members to text a keyword to your dedicated number to opt-in to receive church communications. Mention your church texting services at the end of a service or via posters in and around the building.
To begin texting your congregation, you need a trusted SMS provider capable of bulk text messaging. Here at Messente, we work with more than 800 mobile networks in 190+ countries to ensure speedy and reliable text messaging. And our software is built for scale, so we can help any organization, regardless of its size, get directly to the people that matter.
Talk to us today to learn more about Messente and how our platform can support your church's marketing and communications strategy. Alternatively, create an account for free to see how it works.