Cell phones play the role of modern communication hub. In the United States, 91% of all adults have smartphones. Each person selects their configuration of apps (or not), but in the new millennium, this one platform reaches just about everyone. People of all ages send text messages and receive them too. Unlike the snail mail that piles up on kitchen counters, people do more than just receive texts. Recipients will read 90% of text message reminders within three minutes. With this alert audience, think of the potential for church text messaging.
Digital technology changes quickly. Remember yesterday when we all used flip phones? That speed can make keeping up with the latest, best ways to reach your congregation seem like an endless slog. Churches everywhere pursue similar communication goals. You want to share information and to support your members. You need to encourage the donations that keep your organization running smoothly. Keeping your congregation informed and involved need not overwhelm.
While the most effective methods of reaching people shift over time, human beings are a constant. Ultimately, whether your congregation receives printed newsletters or text messages, they want to feel connected to their faith and their spiritual community. We’ll explore some ways that technology can reach with new groups. It can keep folks participating, and encourage church giving.
The Opportunities of Church Text Messaging
While people only open 25% of their emails, they read 98% of their texts. No other medium offers an audience this involved.
Texts reach people of all ages. Since the beginning of the century, texting grew into a central mode of communication. The average adults now spend 23 hours a week texting. Although younger people text the most, older adults do participate as well. People over age 55 average 16 texts per day, making it a familiar medium for everyone.
Text messaging can aid a common problem: declining church attendance among younger generations. Only 27% of adults under the age of 30 report attending religious services at least once a week. That’s nearly half the rate of adults over the age of 65. By keeping in touch through a favored medium, your programs that interest young adults might gather more attention.
Another group assisted by regular church text messaging? New members. When an individual or family tries out a new church, they may not be aware of everything it offers. Regular text messages inform readers about otherwise unknown activities. They encourage new folks to return and to bond with the other members of their new spiritual home. If your church gives out welcome packets, make sure they include subscription information.
Do remember that any sort of group text campaigns requires recipients’ permission. Even if you already have the phone number from the church registry, you will still have to ask before adding anybody to a list. Repeated messages from an unwanted number, even if you mean well, come across as annoying spam. Plus, it might be illegal.
What Should I Say?
Only your imagination limits the opportunities of a text. They can include multimedia, images, and emojis. Alternately, keep the message simple. Just a line of text could direct readers to a Bible verse of the week. Taking full advantage of links could guide recipients toward other resources. Links can lead to donation suggestions, videos, articles, and other websites.
A general church text messaging list provides an effective path for sharing logistical details. Those little nudges can help your congregation plan ahead. Reminders about an upcoming event, a time change, or an unexpected cancellation can all lead to greater involvement.
Digital polls speed up gathering information. You can seek community input without cutting into valuable in-person time. (“Should we move the 10 am service to 11 am?”) Polls can stimulate thought and conversation, too. For example, asking recipients to share a favorite Uplifting Bible verse. The answers can provide meaningful content for future texts or a later discussion
Specialized lists can help organize smaller groups within the larger community. These can focus on a short-term event or an ongoing need. A specialized group could include:
- Call upon the civic-minded with a list for volunteer opportunities.
- Remind youth group members (and their parents) about upcoming activities.
- Recap details for a study group. Share the passages they agreed to review.
- Pass along prayer requests as they come in.
A text can supplement or replace printed materials. If people opt into a weekly text that links to sermon notes, you’ll be able to save costs and trees by printing fewer copies. Plus, folks who did not attend will read a handy reminder. It might encourage them to study along at home or to return next Sunday. A short text in the middle of the week could include a related video of an inspiring speaker or further thoughts on the week’s focal topic. These texts support what your strong in-person presence begins. They facilitate an ongoing relationship between practitioners and their faith, lasting long after Sunday morning ends.
Using Texts to Encourage Giving
A text-to-give campaign works simply and quickly. An individual enters a phone number and sends it a particular word. An automated response then links the church member to a webpage where they can complete the donation process. That’s all they need to do, no complicated learning curse for the average phone owner.
Texts can result in one-time or ongoing donations. Many churches accept monthly tithing through text. That automation reduces the chance that church members will forget their intended giving. While texts may be quick, don’t assume that the gifts will be small. The average person donates $107 through text-to-give campaigns.
Donor campaigns can fit into other text lists in a multitude of ways. Alongside a reminder about a charity event, you could suggest a donation to that cause. Notes following a Sunday service might be an appropriate place to suggest setting up recurring tithing for people who don’t carry cash. Some churches encourage donations during services when people feel inspired by the message.
Once again, in the area of fundraising text messaging reaches younger generations. Millennials do take part in charitable giving. One study found that 84% of these young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s gave to charity. Younger adults carry less cash than their parents or grandparents did. Instead, they prefer to go digital with their support. As a bonus, their activity on social media might mention the donation. That encourages peers to follow suit.
Among our suite of digital giving products, NewFire Giving offers a text-to-give software. The design caters to the specific challenges and needs of faith communities. The NewFire Giving text-to-give software integrates with our other digital donation tools. This lets you track gifts and manage records in one convenient place.
You can also share progress with your congregation. Pages for public viewing let members follow along in real time. They can view the community’s efforts to fund that mission trip or church renovation.
Moving Forward with Texts
Increased donations help a church pursue its mission. Text messages can help achieve those goals, and do so much more. With the right approach, text messages can strengthen a church community.
Every congregation has unique needs. No one solution helps every church increase engagement and giving. If you feel interested in further developing your text messaging strategy, reach out. NewFire Giving offers free, 30-minute consultation calls with our expert team.
There is no need to tackle a big change alone. NewFire Giving specializes in both the software and the strategy behind a more engaged church community. Time invested now can create benefits that ripple through your congregation in the future. We guarantee at least a 10% increase in giving over the subsequent six months to groups that begin to work with NewFireGiving.