Connecting youth with engaging religious activities and content can be tricky. But the team of Youth Pastors at Life Chapel tackles it through texting.
Life Chapel in Point Pleasant, New Jersey places a strong emphasis on community. The ministry of Life Chapel is committed to leading people in their community into a growing, life-giving relationship with Jesus Christ. And these efforts for inclusion extend to all ages. So when Youth Pastor Matt Burkey inherited Life Chapel’s five-year-old text program, it was his goal to keep communication running smoothly for students and their families.
So how has Life Chapel used texting to engage and empower their faith community for half a decade? The secret is in adding value.
One of the most popular ways Life Chapel connects people with their text program is through events. Teens gather for popular activities, like basketball tournaments, where they’re given the option to opt in for information about future events. A crowd of 20-30 kids quickly turns into 50 as they build out a network of repeat attendees who are connected by a common thread of activities.
Each year the Life Chapel team also runs a raffle. To gain entry, all the kids have to do is fill out a card with their cell phone number and check off a box indicating their permission to receive texts from the Life Chapel staff.
Subscriber groups are then built out based on these common interests to ensure that the teens, and their parents, are receiving information relevant to them. After years of experience with text marketing, Matt has learned that the key to success is sending the right amount of messages with the right information.
As a youth pastor, Matt spends close to 70% of his time communicating with kids and 30% of the time with their parents. So SimpleTexting’s ability to archive communications gives Matt and his team professional peace of mind.
“A big thing is the safe communication now between youth pastor and all students. It provides me [Matt] with safety and accountability in knowing that all the texts and records are kept and are permanently stored.”
Because Life Chapel is utilizing a short code instead of their personal devices to text, Matt is able to establish boundaries and create a safe space for conversation. All the staff at Life Chapel can access the platform creating a transparent log of communication with both children and parents. Anyone is able to review conversations and jump in when necessary.
One of Matt’s favorite features with SimpleTexting is the ability to send and schedule texts while on the go. He does this mainly by utilizing the SimpleTexting app for iOS and Android. For example, on the bus ride home from their winter retreat last week, Matt was able to use the app to send a blast to the parents informing them that they were 30 minutes out and their pickup location. During the retreat itself, he was also able to use the app to send quick texts to all the kids letting them know what time to gather for dinner.
Another key feature for Matt has been the ability to schedule texts. At any given day of the week, he’s scheduling texts for later in the afternoon or even days ahead. Informing the kids about events, and weekly meeting reminders. Kids, parents, and pastors are all in agreement. Texting is what keeps everyone on the same page.
In fact, texting has opened up a plethora of opportunity for Life Chapel to connect with their three main publics. “[Texting] helps us with outreach to new students, helps us communicate with the students that are already part of our ministry, and helps communicate information to parents” notes Matt.
With no signs of slowing down, Life Chapel’s SMS strategy has helped bring their youth ministry communication into present-day. The ultimate goal of their ministry is to make you feel comfortable and welcomed so you can find a point where you can connect with God. For the younger generations, texting has helped carve out a space to connect with their faith. We are happy to assist Life Chapel and our other faith partners as they continue to use SMS as a way to spread joy and love across the U.S. and Canada!
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