I’ve always been a big fan of using technology in ministry, and there is no more effective technology to reach teens than the all powerful text message. Recently my parish switched to a new group texting provider, and in doing so we got access to a lot of cool new features that we’ve put into practice in our ministry.
Here’s a list of 3 creative ways you can start using text messaging in your ministry:
1. Text for More Info
We’ve stopped putting our website on our fliers and posters. No email address. No phone number. On the bottom of all our promotional material is one simple call to action: Text STUDENT to 23232 for more info on Student Ministry at St. Theresa.
When someone new texts our keyword (STUDENT) to our short code number (which is not really 23232), a couple of things happen:
- They get subscribed to our group texting list – so they’ll get updates and invitations from us via text message.
- They receive an immediate text back with info on whatever we’re promoting at that time – currently it’s details on our Sunday night AfterParty program.
- They get dropped into an autoresponder sequence – basically a series of text messages scheduled relative to their subscription date. For example: An hour after they texted in, they get a text message with a link to a mobile responsive form where we can get more info about them (name, email, school, grade, birthday).
2. Text In Contests
Sometimes incentives are necessary and totally worth it.
What if you could add 200 new students from a nearby high school to your text message list? How much would that be worth to you? Would it be worth $50? It is for me!
Buy a $50 gift card (Starbucks, iTunes, Chipotle, etc.) and create a cool flyer for your existing students to pass out at school (check with the school to find out the rules about distributing flyers). The call to action on the flyer is simple: We’re giving away a $50 Starbucks gift card. Text FREECOFFEE to 22222 to enter.
When they text in, the same three things above happen PLUS they get entered into an automatic giveaway. The winner is automatically chosen and notified.
Important note: you probably only get one message with a lot of the teens (because they’ll unsubscribe at the end of the week if they don’t win), so make sure you think hard about what you want to say/invite them to.
Or if you’re just trying to get the teens who are already at your program to subscribe, have everyone text in on the spot for a shot at a cool prize of some sort.
3. Daily Challenges
One of my biggest goals with a bible study, teaching or retreat is that something about the lives of the teens who come is changed. Big or small – if they’re not somehow different when we leave, then we’ve wasted our time.
Create a series of messages that will go out 7 (or 10 or 30) days in a row that somehow challenge your students to put your teaching into practice: encourage them to pray, send them bible verses to read, challenge them to serve their parents or share their faith at school or online.
I create a group with an autoresponder series and use a text in keyword to drop people into that new group. And try to encourage feedback: either by replying to the text message or using a hashtag on social media.
Those are just a few of the ways we’re using text messaging in our ministry. What about you?
And in case you were wondering, the group texting service we’re using is called ProTexting. Check it out, it’s pretty awesome.