Churches that are able to embrace technology and use it to their advantage have an easier time not just with retaining membership but also in building it. Cellphones, and particularly SMS text messaging, is one such technological advance that churches around the world are starting to see as a useful tool in a number of different applications.
In 2013, it was estimated that 91 percent of adults had a cell phone, a number which has likely increased in the past two years. As a result, churches have found a number of ways to stay connected with their parishioners using the cellphone and SMS text messaging to their advantage:
1. Church event reminders: There are dozens of events taking place in churches all year long. Instead of relying on bulletins and reminders during services to keep members updated, churches are using mass notification systems to send out text messages, reminding them of upcoming important dates like fundraising events and meetings. This helps significantly in increasing the number of people who show up for your various functions.
2. Calls for prayer: Instead of using the old-fashioned phone chain, churches are now sending an instant text message to their members when there is an urgent call for prayer. Take the recent tragedy that took place in Nepal. Pastors all over the country were able to instantly bring their parishioners together using text message alerts to send forth a powerful group prayer.
3. Emergency notifications: SMS broadcasting is perfect for updating parishioners during emergency situations. Even if electricity or landline service is down, you can still let people know where to go for help. There are even services available where those you contact can respond back if they are in need of special assistance. Churches in areas that are vulnerable to hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes find this a particularly useful tool to have.
4. Cancellations: With an SMS broadcasting service such as DialMyCalls, contact lists can be arranged in any way the church sees fit. This allows them to alert only certain groups, such as the parents of youth group members if a meeting is being canceled or moved to another location. Again, sending an SMS text message to everyone at one time is much more effective than having to call each person one by one or rely on a phone chain.
5. Receiving feedback: Even a pastor needs to know how they are doing with their job. Text messaging can be used to send out brief surveys that can ask for opinions about any element of the church, its activities and functions. This is an invaluable service for creating a sense of community and involvement with all members of a congregation.
Churches that have learned how to use the power of technology in their day-to-day activities have seen great results. You will be hard pressed to find a congregant who does not have a cellphone on their person, checking regularly for new text messages. Using that to your advantage will help increase your church attendance and stay better connected with your members.
Tim Smith is the social media guru and support manager for DialMyCalls. This article originally appeared online at churchtechtoday.com.
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