Post By Angela Stringfellow
Imagine this: You’re sitting in church listening to the choir finish up your favorite hymn, when you hear a distinct buzz. You turn around to see a church deacon pull out his phone and begin the two-thumb dance of replying to a text message.
There’s can’t be much worse than seeing someone sitting in the middle of a religious service, listening to the sermon and texting. But is there a way to blend the power of the SMS message with religious activities?
It's not a blasphemous question at all. Here is a list of 7 powerful ways SMS messaging can be used to better the religious community:
1. Prayer lists: The power of prayer is astonishing and there is power in numbers. Often times, prayer lists are included in church bulletins and quarterly newsletters, often getting into the hands of the congregation days or weeks after the need first arises. Miracles happen every day, most attributed to some sort of divine intervention. Using text messaging can instantly get information into the hands of those who can provide prayer, positive thoughts and support to a family in need.
2. Message of the day: We’ve all seen quote-of-the-day calendars offering scripture or words of encouragement. The quick quotes are designed to be motivating, re-affirming or simply just a reminder to live life honorably, graciously and with faith. The simple task of sending an SMS message to the congregation will offer the same words of hope, faith and love.
3. Sermon /Bible study suggestions: For religious leaders who write their own sermons, writer's block is inevitable, and they often find themselves scrambling at the last minute to complete the story they want to share. A quick text to the congregation for suggestions can not only provide good ideas, but allow the congregation a sense of ownership over the content of the services. In addition, having an interactive process allows the material to be relevant. A quick poll can take a national statistic and make it local. In addition, SMS can be used to discuss topics for discussion at Bible studies or other educational forums.
4. Social service events/notifications: A flood, a fire, a family’s medical emergency. The need for help is often immediate. SMS texting can provide the perfect opportunity to reach out to vast numbers of people who can provide the resources needed in a time of crisis. Whether it’s rounding up the troops to help in the aftermath of a natural disaster or reminding volunteers of the canned food drive, the simple and quick notification can be the difference between a turnout of five and a turnout of 100.
5. Recruitment campaigns: Many churches, synagogues and religious institutions are struggling with attendance. Younger members are simply not attending as they once were. SMS messaging can be used to supplement recruitment campaigns by providing information on congregational meetings, religious services, youth group activities or simply to invite the community to a meet and greet. The call-to-action alone may be enough to get a few people in the door.
6. Fund raising: If the church is in need of a new elevator, a roof, or perhaps a new organ, the contributions of its congregation are vital. Notifications used to be hung in parlors or on bulletin boards in the community. Now, the unobservant can be notified quickly and easily with a text message announcing the fund raising event. After the initial message it’s easy for those who received the message to pass it along to their social network. Not only does this help raise the funds, but will help the organization gain community exposure and potentially bring new members through their doors with the event.
7. Religious news: People like to be informed. Many young families are too busy with their lives to stop and take a moment to read the paper or even watch the news. What better way to share news that is pertinent to your congregation than to send a link via SMS. On smartphones, the quick and simple links can be viewed and the congregation is now up-to-date on the latest news surrounding the religious community.
The fact of the matter is that texting is quick, easy and efficient. The challenge is finding appropriate ways for the religious community to take advantage of the technologies available. By providing opportunities for members to interact, the community as a whole grows stronger; thus, accomplishing the ultimate goal: spreading the word.
How is your church or religious center using technology and SMS messaging? If you’re not using it, would you consider it?
Learn how other religous groups are using text messaging right now.