Group texting for religious organizations
Learn how to connect your congregation and keep new members coming back with SMS.
Texting and church — not exactly a match made in heaven, right? Phones are distracting. People forget to silence their ringtone, and everyone from kids to adults eventually gets caught fiddling with their phones instead of paying attention to the message.
But it’s important to realize that text messaging can actually help churches overcome common problems. Ministries and religious organizations of all kinds face the same basic challenges:
- Keeping your congregation engaged in a world of digital distractions and information overload
- Connecting with the youth, teens, and young adults of your community
- Making your message meaningful the whole week long — not just the Sabbath
Why use texting for your church?
The church isn’t a building. It’s the people — the community that comes together to celebrate.
Religious organizations use texting for many purposes. At SimpleTexting, churches use our text messaging software to:
- Establish a simple church communication system that sends bulk messages to congregation members and empowers individuals to respond only to you (not like an annoying group text where everyone in the list gets alerted).
- Bring people into church and increase church attendance by reminding worshippers of your events, masses, ceremonies, and celebrations.
- Modernize church connection cards and follow up on card prayer requests and involvement interests.
- Start prayer chains for those who need or request spiritual support.
- Make church announcements like post-mass follow-ups, giving requests, and volunteer needs.
- Share lines of worship or daily devotionals.
- Engage youth ministry groups with event reminders, volunteer opportunities, and more.
- Fundraise for your church by communicating apparel for sale, requesting donations for yard or rummage sales, and promoting silent auctions.
- Follow up with church members who missed celebrations to encourage them to come next time, make sure they’re OK, and let them know you care.
Those are just a few ways we’ve seen our customers use texting for their churches.
How texting works for places of worship
With text messaging (or SMS, for Short Message Service), it’s easy to contact your members instantly.
But before you can start texting, you need cellphone numbers and permission from your members. Sound complicated? It’s simple!
All you need is a text-to-join keyword and a business texting number, which can be your church’s local landline number. Once you’ve created a text-to-join keyword on SimpleTexting.com (for example, “1STCHURCH” or “BETHSHALOM”), just ask your congregation to text it to your text number.
For example, you could create a poster to hang on the doors or entryway of your church like this:
To be compliant with texting rules and laws, it’s also important to include a disclaimer wherever you promote your text-to-join keyword, as you can see in the example above. Here is that text so you can copy/paste and modify for your purposes:
By texting to this number, you agree to receive promotional messages sent via an autodialer, and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Message and data rates may apply. To unsubscribe, text STOP to 206-761-7316.
Your keyword confirmation, which can be an SMS (simple text message) or MMS message (text message with an image or other rich media), also gives you a great opportunity to welcome new contacts right off the bat!
In the example above, SimpleTexting will automatically send a compliance message free of charge so you can focus on the big picture.
That’s all it takes to gather their number and consent. They’ll automatically be subscribed to your text messages — it’s really that simple!
You can also manually import your contacts if you have them stored in a spreadsheet.
How your church can use text messages
Wondering what a church could possibly use text messages for? Below we’ve shared several ideas to help you get started.
1. Send daily Bible verses straight to your members’ mobile phones
Text quotes from Scripture that are relevant to that week’s sermon and keep congregants inspired all week long.
2. Alert members instantly about schedule changes
Sending timely texts about schedule changes means no one will be left in the dark. Need to cancel Sunday school due to dangerous weather? Text alerts let you reach the multitude in minutes.
3. Notify parishioners of upcoming events
Want to ensure your social events are well-attended? Remind members with automatic texts.
4. Reach your youth by speaking their language
Did you know that for ages 15-24, text messaging is by far the most frequently used channel for personal written communication?
5. Get feedback and suggestions from your community
Looking for a suggestion? Have an idea and need the feedback of your entire congregation? Send a text, ask for input, and reap the responses.
6. Ask for volunteers to help out at events
Getting volunteers on board is a lot easier with SMS — just send a quick text message.
7. Share prayer requests with the whole community
If you need to let everyone know about an important prayer request, that’s easy, too.
… and the list just goes on and on:
- Hold a Bible trivia contest
- Send out a teaser for an upcoming sermon
- Share a link to notes for the weekly Bible study
- Communicate with fellow pastors and church leaders
- Provide updates on missions trips
- Let people know where their donations are going
- Wish members a happy birthday
As you can probably tell by now, there’s really no limit to how your church can use text messaging!
How to let your congregation know about your texting list
We’ve seen what you can do with church texting, but how do you tell your members about it? Surprise, this is actually pretty simple, too! Here are a few ideas on how to get the word out.
Announce it from the pulpit
You’re already making other announcements from the pulpit—so why not add “new text messaging service” to that list? Just let your congregation know at the beginning or end of a sermon that they can opt in to receive daily Bible quotes, prayer requests, sermon notes, or whatever it is you’ve decided to use SMS for.
Include signs and notices in your place of worship
Bulletin boards, brochures, newsletters, donation boxes, sermon notes—all of these and more make great places to inform people about your texting service. All you need is something simple, like “Text 1STCHURCH to 206-761-7316 for weekly event reminders.”
Feature it online
Don’t forget to announce your texting service to the internet. This means updating your website, social media accounts, emails, and wherever else you have an online presence.
Follow these simple steps and you’ll be texting in no time!
Try group texting for your religious organization today
If you’re ready to give text marketing for churches a try, we encourage you to sign up for a 14-day free trial account with us.
Then, when you’re ready to upgrade to a paid account and get full access to our features, just change your billing plan from the dashboard. Simple!
This piece was originally published June 15, 2016. It was most recently updated July 27, 2023. Nathan Ellering contributed to this piece.