The Ultimate Guide to Text Alerts for Churches

August 23, 2022 | By Jake Meador
The Ultimate Guide to Text Alerts for Churches

What Motivates You in Your Ministry?

When you first started working in ministry, there are some things that probably motivated you and others that probably did not. You wanted to be involved in the real stuff of day-to-day life with people:

  • helping them make sense of their stories
  • find healing as needed
  • discover a sense of meaning and purpose via their religious life

It was about relationships, in other words, but also about counseling, teaching, and conversation. You probably weren’t motivated by the thought of spending lots of time sitting in an office, planning events, managing administrative details, and solving logistical problems.

Yet for many pastors, their job is as much the second set of tasks as it is the first. One study has found that at least 80% of church members are not engaged in the life of the church, either through volunteering or giving financially to the ministry. In the absence of greater volunteer resources or financial resources, all of that work often falls on pastors.

That said, difficult tasks can be made easier if you have the right tools. The right tool can help you work faster and more effectively, thereby freeing up time and energy to do the deeper work that you most care about.

When Does That Bible Study Start Again?

One of the most common problems churches have and that pastors often struggle to solve is simple communication with congregants.

People don’t hear the announcements on Sunday morning if they’re late getting into the service or are talking with a friend as announcements are being made.

Email is unreliable—Mailchimp reports a 27.6% average open rate for emails from religious organizations, which means ¾ of the people you send emails to do not actually open the emails. text-alerts-for-churches-01.png

Social media is even worse—the average organic (free) reach of a post on your Facebook page likely hovers between 2 and 5%, which means at least 95% of the people who have liked your page aren’t seeing what you post.

Physical mailers, meanwhile, cost money and time to produce, are easy to miss in the mail and often will get tossed into the recycling before they are even skimmed.

Church-specific social networks, meanwhile, can work great but require people to be fairly tech savvy to use and add another inbox for people to keep an eye on in addition to their email, social media accounts, and so on.

All of these things make the simple act of relaying information to your congregation much harder than it ought to be.

Problem Solved

This is precisely the problem that our founder, James Pelton, was dealing with a number of years ago when he first created Mobile Text Alerts. James was a college pastor at his church and was frustrated by how difficult it was to simply get people from his group together for dinner after church. Plans were often made last minute so advanced communication methods weren’t great:

  • No one is going to check their email after church to find out where they should meet.
  • Posting on Facebook was unreliable.
  • Group chat apps required people to download the app, which many didn’t want to do.
  • Going around personally to every member of the group was tedious and usually impossible because you might not be able to find people after church.

That’s when James landed on the idea of text messaging. A bivocational pastor who worked as a web developer to pay the bills, James wrote a program that would allow him to send out mass texts to all of his students. That is how Mobile Text Alerts got its start.

Since then, we have seen many other churches use our software for all sorts of purposes. And that’s not a surprise—text message open rates usually range between 95 and 99%! People miss emails, aren’t listening during announcements, and never see Facebook posts. But everyone reads their texts.

How Churches Use Text Messages

After we got started, we realized that text alerts were useful for more than just coordinating after-church lunches. We have seen churches use text alerts for:

Prayer Requests

Prayer Update: Please pray for our country and it's leaders! Other prayer requests for the week are listed here. [Link]

Daily Bible Passages

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me. - John 14:6

Or to follow up with guests:

Hi this is pastor Jeff. Thanks for joining us last Sunday at church! I just wanted to reach out and see if you had any questions about our ministry.

To coordinate volunteers:

Transportation volunteers! We have a ministry meeting after church this Sunday at 11:30 am in the conference room. See you then!

Or even to make it easier for congregants to give financially to the church:

Hi Sam, I wanted to thank you for your support on our building project! We have online giving enabled here [link]. Thank you!

Obviously none of these things can replace the benefits of a face-to-face conversation or chance to meet in-person with someone from your church. But that is not what it’s intended to be.

Text alerts are simply a tool churches can use to help with certain types of communication, particularly with messages that are short, fairly simple, and are mostly about relaying information to your congregation.

In addition, texting can provide some additional options for your church which can be especially valuable for people who live alone, shut-ins, and so on. There’s something comforting in being able to share prayer requests and know that other people are praying for you or in knowing that you and your friends in the church are working through the same section in your Bible reading. Text alerts can help with this.

How to Set Up Text Alerts for Your Church

There are three parts to any text alert software:

  1. Adding people to your list.
  2. Creating sub-groups within your list.
  3. Sending and scheduling messages.

Mobile Text Alerts has resources to help with every part of the process.

The groups feature is an especially important one. If you adopted texting as a church, then your text alert list is simply “any member of the church that has opted in to receive text messages.”

However, most of your messages will be sent to smaller groups of people. In those situations, you can create groups from your larger list which will allow you to send more targeted messages. You can use groups for virtually anything:

  • Sunday school classes
  • Youth group
  • Small groups
  • Volunteers
  • Elders and deacons

Groups are what allow you to use text alerts in so many different ways.

You can send reminders to the whole church about an upcoming midweek event. You can send a reminder text to youth group parents about a registration deadline that’s coming up. You can send a text with the nursery schedule for that week to your nursery volunteers.

If you would like to see how Mobile Text Alerts can help you communicate more reliably with your church community, sign up for a demo to see how the software works and to talk with one of our team members!

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