5 Ways to Increase Church Engagement by Texting Members
Low congregation engagement is a key factor in decreasing church memberships across the country. Congregation engagement is much more than saying “Amen” and “Hallelujah” during the sermon.
It’s about what happens beyond the pews - small groups, volunteering, and building relationships in between services. This not only affects your church but the lifeline of your faith.
The trouble is getting your members engaged.
Announcements up front are mostly forgotten, and emailed newsletters just get ignored. How can you keep members and visitors engaged between services, and strengthen your church?
About 81% of Americans communicate through text every day, and 97% do weekly.
It's likely your congregation fits into those numbers, and this article will show you five ways to increase church engagement by texting members. Sound good?
How Churches Can Increase Engagement
1. Get your members to volunteer.
One of the biggest ways to get your congregation engaged is by encouraging them to volunteer. However, 25% of people say they don’t volunteer because they weren’t asked to.
Texting makes it astonishingly easy to personally ask members to volunteer.
For example, if you have a food drive coming up and still need volunteers, you can easily text a few church members asking them for help. You can also share details like time, date, and where to show up.
To do this well, you'll need to be able to text individuals, but also dozens or hundreds or even thousands of people at a time. And if you have contacts saved in your text system, you can add a "merge field" to include personal information in each text.
Let's say Pastor Jeff needs to reach the high school youth group to let them know about a Wednesday night Bible study. He sends one message with a first name merge field to Janet and Tom, which shows up in their phones like this:
Two other reasons people don’t volunteer is because they either forget or they don't have the information. You can schedule reminder texts to go out before the event.
This is helpful for members, too, because when you text someone, that information is always available at their fingertips.
People also don’t volunteer because of “lack of time”. However, people will also make time for things that they are committed to. You can strengthen members' commitment to church and your relationships by engaging with them through text.
2. Notify members of events.
Your church probably puts on several events each year, maybe more. The key is to keep engagement up to see the positive effects these events have on your church. To do that, and to increase attendance, send out monthly or weekly reminders of upcoming events.
You can also send links to a more detailed event page on your website or an RSVP page.
However, not all events are for all members. Some are for younger kids, teens, young adults, 50+ members, women's ministries, etc. The beauty of text is that you can give each category its own group.
With a group message, you can create one message for the whole group, and it is sent as an individual message to each member in that group.
This helps you only send messages that are relevant to a specific member. (You wouldn't want to send Bob the Women’s Ministries event schedule.) And if they have questions, they can just reply to your message. Replies will go back to you, not to the whole group.
You'll save staff a lot of time while increasing engagement.
3. Receive prayer requests with ease.
With a two-way texting platform, members and visitors can send in prayer requests, which can be reviewed by the pastor or elders in the church. The text can be answered accordingly, and a conversation can be started.
Use this to encourage visitors to come back, and to get current members more engaged.
You can use Text Request with your main church number, so members can simply text or call the same number to share an update. They could also contact you with an SMS live chat feature on your church’s website.
Normally, people would have to fill out a card at church or talk to the pastor to share a prayer request. Texting makes you more accessible, which helps encourage members to communicate and engage with you.
4. Send Bible verses.
Having a way to send encouraging messages to your members shows that you are trying on your end to engage with them and actively help them grow spiritually. Plus, people love daily quotes, inspirational messages, and devotions.
Members can text in a keyword like “VERSE”, and you can add them to a group just for sharing daily Bible verses.
Setting up a keyword ensures that you are engaging with those who want to be engaged with. This lowers barriers and allows members to sign up for exactly what they want. (Being too pushy could push them out of your church.)
You also never know how a bible verse can change a person's day for the better!
5. Share important church news (newsletters).
Keeping members in the loop is a great starting point for increasing church engagement. Sometimes, things will happen that weren't in the bulletin, or you may just want to double check that everyone's up to speed.
A text is the best way to ensure your message is seen.
Religious newsletters only have a 25% open rate, while texts have a 99% open rate. You can take particular advantage of this by adding links to your text that send church members to your online newsletter, blog, or website.
Church news could be:
- Cancellation of church service due to weather, or a change in time
- Church board meeting
- Death of a church member
- Budget reports
If there is an update, or set of updates you want to share with your congregation, a text is the most reliable way to make sure they all see it.
Transparency and safety are increasingly important in churches. You need a system that keeps constant record and allows for oversight.
Text Request’s shared dashboard and permanently recorded texts ensure that your church’s pastors, leaders, and elders are protected against any false allegation. It also helps you detect and stop any problems that might pop-up early, before they become real issues.
If you require all church-related text communications between leaders and members to go through Text Request, you give yourself an added safety net. This is especially important when leaders are dealing with youths in the church.
How to Get Started
Increasing engagement with your church members keeps them more involved. They'll be more likely to stay with the church, and even to bring in new members.
To increase engagement through text, you'll need to send out mass texts and hold individual conversations while protecting your staff and members. You'll also want to have saved contact groups, and to be able to text from your main office number.
Text Request has all of this (and more), and all you have to do to get started is sign up for an account.
You can also grab a time for a short live demo to learn more about Text Request and how it works before making a decision.
Have any questions? Let us know!