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SMS Text Messaging and Churches

Most churches are using email now to connect with their members. Sure many were slow on the uptake and there are still some that don’t use it…there are enough churches around to cover all of the technological (or lack thereof) spectrum. We’ve certainly been through a few technolgies and right now we use (or are starting to use at least) Vertical Response [1] for email, with their 10,000 free emails per month for non-profits [2]. But technology continues to move forward, and the “latest and greatest” used to be cell phone text messaging (SMS, or Short Message Service–did anyone even know what the acronym stood for until reading it here? :-) but of course that’s already being edged out in many places by Twitter [3] and other social media. We haven’t actually done any text messaging to cell phones that I know of here (and we may bypass this altogether for Twitter, which we’ve only recently begun to semi-officially use Twitter for the Church [4], although I’ve been using it personally [5] for a long time), but I’ve done some research on options that I passed along to our Youth department back in January after doing some Googling and talking to some Church IT guys [6] to see what they were doing. Some of the options are pretty cool, so for reference, here’s the email (slightly edited) I sent to our Youth dept. back in January in case you find it helpful:

These are some text messaging services that may be useful:

  • http://texthub.com/ [7] (another church where I know the Church IT guy, I forget which one, is using this)
  • http://www.jarbyco.com [8] (Granger Community Church [9] has used this, as have a few others)
  • http://www.textmarks.com [10] (Granger is using this some too and we are planning to use it at Lakeview at least among staff if not generally)
  • http://www.polleverywhere.com [11] (this lets you show poll results on the screen that people text in, but I don’t think it does mass texting—Jarbyco can do this too I think, at least where people sendin questions via text message and you can have someone put them up on the screen)

I’d start there and see where it gets you! Should be cheaper than phone tree most likely, def. cheaper than mailing postcards and you’ll probably get more teen response than from either of those anyway :-) [remember this was an email to the Youth dept.] I would start testing with a small group if you’re going to test multiple services, so you aren’t switching everyone from one system to another just to test…like set up 4-5 students with one service and see how you like the service and price before putting everyone in.

I later ran into another service worthy of comparison: http://www.churchtextingmanager.com/ [12]. I’m sure there are others out there. Other than light testing of Poll Everywhere and TextMarks, I’ve not used any of these services personally or professionally and can’t vouch for any of them, but it’s probably a good list to start your own research!

3 Comments (Open | Close)

3 Comments To "SMS Text Messaging and Churches"

#1 Comment By Joshua of Catholic Tech Tips On May 26, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

Great post!

FlockNote is a great SMS Text Messaging/Micro-blogging site for Catholic Christians.

God Bless,

Joshua of Catholic Tech Tips

#2 Comment By Greg Davis On May 26, 2009 @ 2:03 pm

And the lines continue to get blurred and change. You can now also have members subscribe to your Facebook Page updates via SMS. They can also subscribe to Twitter updates without having to have a Twitter account. Both are interesting (and free) ways to allow those interested to get text-based updates of what is going on in your church!

#3 Comment By Reginald On May 6, 2011 @ 12:56 am

Another Great Affordable Church Texting Service and an iPhone APP for The Church, [13]