Learn How One Church Grew Discipleship During Coronavirus Using SMS

Learn how one of the biggest challenges facing churches turned into an opportunity to engage members in a more effective way.

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Life Worth Living Church is an Assemblies of God Church located in El Paso, Texas.

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Steve Norman, the lead pastor, had to find new ways to reach members during COVID-19.

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Nearly every member of the church has signed up to receive daily text messages. Discipleship is growing!

Recent data revealed that one in three practicing Christians stopped attending church service during the pandemic. Nearly half (47%) haven’t watched a virtual service in the last month, either.

Those that have stopped attending church also reported feeling more anxiety and less inner peace. How can churches continue to help people when it’s harder than ever to reach them?

Steve Norman is the lead pastor at Life Worth Living Church and he believes he’s found the answer—texting.

Setting Up Daily Texts that Encourage and Inspire

Back when services could be held in person, Steve gave his members an “experience sheet.” This sheet had scripture references and suggested readings for the week. When COVID-19 began, handing out a sheet was no longer an option.

"I had to find a different way of doing things. We took that sheet and began to send out daily texts that would encourage people to do what we wanted them to do—which was to be encouraged and read their bibles."
Steve Norman
Steve Norman

Lead Pastor

Life Worth Living’s church management system (ChMS) already had texting capabilities. However, as Steve started to send out daily messages, he found the feature limited—and expensive. That’s when he switched to SimpleTexting.

He found our platform offered the right combination of accessible pricing and robust features. As a bi-vocational pastor, time is of the essence to Steve. One of the features he uses the most is the ability to schedule texts ahead of time.

Each Sunday, he picks out five key points from his sermons and turns them into text messages. His advice for other pastors? Keep your messages brief. Instead of including the full bible verse, he shares short scripture references that people are sure to read.

"We have short, power-packed texts that come out Monday through Friday. It takes me 15 minutes and I’ve scheduled my whole week out."
Steve Norman

Lead Pastor

Steve knew texts had high open rates and he anticipated a strong response, but not quite this strong. As it turns out, these short messages are exactly what the members of Life Worth Living Church needed.

You are ripe for victory when you are the smallest, least significant, a no-name with no hope of advancement. Pray that God shows you His victory today. 1 Samuel 17:12-15, 1 Samuel 16:1-13 LifeWorthLiving

People have told Steve that thanks to the messages, they’re reading their bibles more than ever.

Why Texting Is The New Way to Grow Discipleship

Text discipleship and evangelism. That’s what Steve calls this new way to reach people. Texting is the perfect medium because unlike social media or email, people read their text messages right away.

According to Mailchimp, the click-through rate for emails from churches is under 4%. The click-through rates of Life Worth Living’s text messages are 14%. That’s a 250% difference.

Of course, it’s not all about numbers. For pastors like Steve, building personal relationships with members is crucial. Texting created a safe space for members of his community to seek guidance.

Subscribers to the daily text messages often reply. And unlike a traditional group text you send from your phone, replies aren’t seen by everyone. The conversation is kept private between Steve and the members. He’s able to respond from the SimpleTexting app on his phone.

"I would encourage every pastor to use text marketing. It’s a powerful tool."
Steve Norman

Lead Pastor

How Life Worth Living’s Reach Extends Beyond Members

When Steve first started the daily texts, he only expected the members of his church to benefit. He soon found out that members were forwarding texts to their family and friends! Soon, total strangers were interested in signing up.

That’s when he decided to create a text-to-join keyword so that anyone could receive texts. Now, when someone texts StrengthenMe to Live Worth Living’s phone number, they are signed up for future messages.

Thanks for joining! You will receive a brief daily text from LifeWorthLiving to give you hope, peace, and inner strength. Get some strength now from this podcast “The Spirit leads you to victory. God never intended you to live a defeated life” https://txt.st/w58LXh

Even though his church is starting to reopen for in-person services, Steve has big plans to extend his daily text messages. If you’re a church that wants to grow your reach and touch more lives with our text messaging service for churches, we encourage you to sign up for a 14-day free trial.

For more insights on church leadership follow Steve on Twitter and watch our full interview.

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