8 Ways Churches Can Use SMS Text Messaging

What is the best way for a church to communicate with its congregation?

There is a good chance it is SMS text messaging. It is a fast way to reach almost anyone.

Consider the alternatives. Postcards and direct mail also reach almost anyone but at slow pace. Phone trees are annoying and impersonal. Email is quick but only reaches the digitally inclined. Social media is like email but with the added handicap of fighting through the clutter. Announcements at church are quite successful but only if it can wait until the next church service.

So how can a church use SMS text messaging?

TextMarks has put together a list of 8 ways churches can use texting.

  1. Inform your entire congregation.
    Send out congregation-wide alerts about events, services, cancellations, room changes, and anything else you need to communicate.
  2. Communicate with a specific group.
    Reach a specific group within your church, such as volunteers, administrative staff, parents, pastors, students, or a Bible study. For example, TextMarks allows each group or ministry to have their own keyword yet still be part of a parent group. This way you can text alerts about upcoming events to the entire congregation but add extra details for the volunteers.
  3. Boost community service.
    One of the most beautiful things about the Body of Christ is the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ. When a natural disaster strikes, a food pantry needs filled, or some other need requires attention, text messaging is a great way to rally support and service from church goers.
  4. Request donations.
    Many churches are beginning to learn that offering mobile giving can both increase giving and attract new givers. For example, TextMarks allows you to configure a keyword that users can text to a short code like “41411”, which will then text them a hyperlinked url to your church’s donation page.
  5. Inspire your congregation.
    Text Bible verses or meaningful quotes on a regular or even daily basis to those who subscribe.
  6. Conduct a poll.
    Engage your congregation by taking a poll. Get a pulse on how congregants think and feel. Or even let them help you prepare your next sermon by texting their vote from a list of topics.
  7. Increase attendance.
    Want to make sure people remember to register for classes or even remember to come? Simply add participants to your SMS group and schedule text reminders to go out before the event. Research shows that 97% of people read a text immediately.
  8. Reinforce the sermon.
    Text a Scripture reading the day before a sermon, so that your congregation can prime their hearts for the teaching. And ripple the sermon’s theme throughout the week with timely snippets, quotes, and reminders.

To learn more about what text messaging can do, visit TextMarks.com.

Special thanks to TextMarks for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.

How to Increase Spiritual Fruit in a Digital World

In June 2014, I spoke at Biola Digital Conference about how can we increase spiritual fruit in a digital world. Biola University has been kind enough to make this video free for you. View it and my notes below.

How do we increase spiritual fruit in a digital world?

Now we could talk about…

  • The importance of branding, design, and first impressions.
  • Digital atmospherics and how to nudge users in the direction you want them to go.
  • Emerging technologies and what these shifts mean for the future of ministry.
  • Or even results-based strategy.

I’ve taught about that, but it guarantees nothing! And there are plenty of books and blogs and lectures that can teach you today’s leading strategies and best practices.

I’ve spent the past decade studying the ministry models and best practices of global Christianity. Reality is I could spend 50 more years and still hardly grasp the depth and complexity of 43,000 denominations spread across 196 countries.

But what I do know – what I am confident of is that there is one model – there is one approach – that is essential to increasing your spiritual fruit.

Abide in Christ. Pursue God’s wisdom. And obey.

I used to say there is no golden formula, but I disagree now. For years I watched mighty moves of God in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. And I marveled, what is it? What is it that makes them thrive? It is not their ministry models. It’s not their denominations. It is not their theologies. These movements transcend all of that. And then one day I realized it is their hunger and obedience!

There is an essential formula and it echoes throughout Scripture. There is an essential formula that should serve as the foundation of what we do.

Abide in Christ. Pursue God’s wisdom. And obey.

Abide in Christ, and you will flourish.
And out of the overflow of your relationship with Jesus, pursue the foolish wisdom of God.
And then simply obey His guidance to the best of your abilities.

Now this doesn’t throw talent and intelligence out the window. It is in that last step of obedience. We need to use our brains and our bodies for the Kingdom, too. But a relationship with Christ is a filter that removes our self-reliance, that removes the wisdom of the world, and leaves us with the wisdom of God if we’re willing to listen. [Read more…]

4 Reasons to Consider Custom Church T-Shirts and Water Based Printing

Real Thread

Growing up most church t-shirts I saw were simply wearable souvenirs commemorating the last youth retreat or something you attended. While this souvenir approach isn’t going away, the potential of a custom church t-shirt has grown to be a valuable tool used for identification, security, professionalism, and promotion.

Let’s look in depth at these 4 areas, sizing tips, and the benefits of using water based printing like Real Thread.

Identification

The larger a church grows the more important it is that attendees are able to identify who can help. Using custom t-shirts helps attendees more easily identify who can answer questions or assist them. This works well for big events, children’s ministry, first-time guests, and emergency situations. A uniform, particularly in a less common color, lets people scan the crowd and instantly know who’s in charge. Or in the case of a youth ministry doing community service, a unified t-shirt lets leaders identify and keep track of their students. But be careful not to get a shirt color that pops at the expense of nobody wanting to wear it.

Security & Professionalism

Particularly in children’s ministry, custom t-shirts provide an extra layer of security. Although improbable, there are rare cases where a predator or parent in a custody battle might try to fake looking a children’s ministry worker. This is easy to do with handwritten, self-adhesive nametags, more difficult with custom printed worker nametags, and very difficult with a custom t-shirt and nametag for workers. Having layers of security is a deterrent in itself. A children’s worker uniform also communicates a sense of control and safety, which is comforting to parents.

Custom t-shirts also provide terrific security and professionalism for church production crews. Behind the scenes of worship services are audio, video, lighting, and stage workers orchestrating the little details and the big picture. While valuable, their role is one to go unnoticed. A black shirt with gray lettering is an excellent way to blend into the shadows while still providing a uniform that says you’re allowed to be running around backstage.

Promotion

A custom t-shirt is a compelling walking billboard when used well. It is a tool worth considering but only with caution. The challenge with using a shirt to build awareness is that the wearer himself will actually influence the message for better or worse. It is a similar effect to churches using window stickers on cars – it builds awareness but coupled with negative feelings if a driver is a jerk. So take care in choosing who will represent you as a walking diplomat.

Real Thread

Sizing

When printing church t-shirts, be sure to get the right sizes of shirts. Going one size fits all by getting all XL shirts for your children’s ministry workers isn’t a good strategy. I’ve seen it done, and it leaves a large portion of your team frustrated that they have to wear a poncho each time they serve. Ideally you can ask each individual what size they prefer, but in the case of unknowns, consider using a tool like Real Thread’s shirt size calculator.

Water Based Printing

Lastly, consider using water based and discharge inks for printing your custom t-shirts.

Traditional t-shirt printing uses plastisol inks that print a plastic ink over the fabric, which limits breathability and is prone to cracking. Water based inks sink into the fabric leaving a long-lasting print that is still vibrant but also breathable, doesn’t crack, and is free of toxic chemicals.

Best of all, water based printing doesn’t have to cost more. Real Thread is streamlined and large enough to be able to offer clients like churches, Google, and VSCO rates on water based printing that are competitive with shops using the cheap plastisol inks. Real Thread has a 15,000 square-foot warehouse in downtown Orlando that handles everything from customer support to product creation under one roof. They’re actually one of the only exclusive water based and discharge ink screen printers in the world.

But where it really gets cool is Real Thread offers specialty printing services like glow in the dark ink, over zipper printing, 4 color processing, tag printing, foil, inside out printing, tonal printing, burnout, and about 90 ink colors.

So the next time you need some custom church t-shirts, remember: design well, print well.

real-thread-shop

Special thanks to Real Thread for supporting Church Relevance by sponsoring this post.