Got a growing congregation? A welcome sequence of texts with keywords and autoresponders ensures new church members get the information they need.
As a staff member or volunteer at your church, you do your best to know all the names and faces of your church family.
From front-row regulars to the CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only), that could mean hundreds (even thousands) of folks to get familiar with.
You want every new member to feel seen, and texting is a more personal way to connect with them than postcards or even email.
It’s the perfect way to welcome new members to your church and help them navigate all the services and support you have to offer.
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If you’re not already familiar with them, keywords are one of the most convenient ways for new members to sign up to receive your text messages.
Congregants can simply text in your chosen word or phrase to a number or short code. Once they press send, they’re automatically added to your list of contacts.
For example, you could encourage your congregation to text the keyword BIBLECHALLENGE to 94090 to get important bible study information. This is a strategy that Milestone Church uses (with a lot of success).
Autoresponders, on the other hand, are a feature that automatically sends follow-up messages days, weeks, or even months after a user signs up using a specific keyword.
With these tools, you can communicate regularly with your church members without worrying that you might forget to reach out.
To create your own “Welcome to our church” sequence, here’s what you need to do:
So, you’ve created your keyword, now, how best to get it in front of your congregation?
The good news is that you have a lot of options for advertising your keyword. You could show it off on:
While you may already have some ideas about what to include in your autoresponder texts, here’s a sample sequence of five welcome messages that would work for any church.
As newcomers to your church, there are a few key details visitors might want to know. It’s important to share information like mass times, contact details, and church-sponsored activities as soon as possible.
When you set up an autoresponder, you have the option to send your message immediately when someone joins your list or to delay it. Since you want your new members to feel welcome right away, we suggest sending your initial greeting text right after they opt in.
Your welcome text message should be something that thanks visitors for coming, encourages them to text any questions, and lets them know to look out in the coming days and weeks for more information from your number.
You may have some folks who are eager to get involved with your church, but they may not know the times and days of every weekly gathering you host. Give them the rundown on when they can meet with other congregants in person or virtually every week.
Now that you’ve shown your new member that you’re eager for them to join your community, you need to let them know a little more about who you are.
If your church has a website that’s up to date with contact information, mission, and vision statements, and other relevant content, now is the time to promote it.
Depending on your denomination, your church may offer additional resources like bible studies, confirmation classes, after-school care, or monthly group gatherings. Make sure to highlight these activities for anyone who’s new to your church.
Make sure your programs are clearly communicated from the get-go to help new members get involved early.
This has been a successful strategy for C3 San Diego, which keeps its 4,000+ person congregation connected and active using texts.
The final message in your welcome sequence is a good opportunity to gather feedback. This can be sent to new members as well as inactive church members.
To see if your welcome efforts are working, take this time to send contacts a brief survey or simply ask them to share their thoughts. Over time, this feedback will help you refine your welcome sequence and service offerings so you can continue to attract and serve more folks at your church.
Now that you have some inspiration for texting new members, let’s talk through some important tips and strategies to keep in mind.
🔖Recommended reading: Group texting for religious organizations
Inviting new members into your community and welcoming visitors is exciting, and making sure they have the best experience possible with your church shouldn’t be stressful for you or them.
By automating as much of the process as you can, you’ll save time and create a positive experience for everyone involved.
Texting also doesn’t have to be complicated (or expensive). You can easily try SimpleTexting out for 14 days, completely free, and if you decide you love it, nonprofits receive a 15% discount on plans.
Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.More Posts from Meghan Tocci
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