Churches need to advertise their services and activities to keep existing members informed and engaged and expand their congregation. An effective way to do this is through church texting services. This article explains why texting is advantageous compared to other communication channels and describes a range of situations as to how it can be used.
Benefits of texting compared to other 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 these benefits 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.
SMS is a cost-effective solution. 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 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. 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 recruiting younger members since this age group can be harder to attract and retain. In England, for instance, only 0.5% of 18-24-year-olds are believed to attend church.
If you want to spread the word about your church mission or upcoming events, SMS gives 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.
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 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 personalised easily with members’ names and other information you might hold in your database.
5 ways to use church texting services
Let’s look now at how church texting services could benefit your church congregation and 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 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 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-in to 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 examples of church texting services
Many churches around the world use church texting services. 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 in part 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 donations. The organisation acknowledges that ‘text giving’ (where people text a unique code to donate) has 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.)
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 content, 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 more about this.
How to get started with church texting services
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 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 to use a trusted SMS provider capable of bulk texting. Here at Messente, we work with more than 800 mobile networks in 190 plus countries to ensure speedy and reliable text messaging. And our software is built for scale, so we can help any size organisation get directly in front of the people that matter.
Talk to us today to learn more about Messente and how our platform can support your church marketing and communications. Alternatively, create an account for free to see how it works.