Welcome back to the Tech In Church Podcast, your home for tips on how to make a huge, long-term impact in your ministry by using technology the right way. In today’s episode, we hear all about how Alex Card used Text In Church to stay connected with her church community during the pandemic shutdown. You’ll learn how technology helped her form even deeper connections with her congregation and the greater community. We are reminded that God is peace and are shown how technology can be used to reiterate God’s presence in our lives. Our hosts, Nina and Jeanette walk us through what makes texting a great tool to use, the importance of having real conversations, and why the text is an intimate form of communication. There are also insights into how prayer requests, sent and received via text, can help boost pastoral care. With an in-depth analysis of how to use Text In Church effectively, this episode is not to be missed! Be sure to tune in.
Key Points From This Episode:
Most churches really struggle to communicate consistently with their people and that can leave them feeling disconnected. Text In Church is an easy-to-use 2-way texting system created for churches to connect with their members and guests beyond Sunday mornings to make them feel known, noticed, and loved.
Text the word, CONNECT, to 816-429-9396 to start your free 60-day trial of Text In Church today to see just how easy it is.
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The Tech In Church Podcast is a Text In Church team production. For more information about this podcast, go to https://podcast.textinchurch.com. For more information on Text in Church, visit https://textinchurch.com.
“What struck me here was that they were not just sharing information or even just sending out bible readings, they took it to the next level and use the texting feature to reach out midweek and engage people in conversations by asking questions, and this is so important, and a piece of the strategy that is often overlooked. You know, sending information through text message is a really smart strategy, since 98 percent of text messages are read, but you don’t just want to give information to your people, you want to actually build real relationships with them, and the best way to do that is by asking questions and engaging in actual conversation.”
[0:00:40.7] NH: Welcome to the Tech In Church Podcast, brought to you by Text in Church. I’m Nina Hampton and I’m here with my cohost, Jeanette Yates. If you are ready to make huge, long-term impact in your ministry, using technology the right way, then you are in the right place. In each episode, you’ll hear from church administrate leaders who will share their real-life examples of how to use the right technology so that they can spend more time building relationships and doing the things that got them into ministry in the first place.
[0:01:08.6] JY: Okay, I am so excited about today’s episode because the story we are sharing is from one of my good friends and fellow church communicator, Alessandra Card. Or, as people call her that are her friends, Alex. She is a communications director at CrossRoad Church in Florida and she’s got some wonderful stories of how using Text in Church helped them stay connected with their members and attendees, and even build deeper relationships with them during the pandemic.
What I love about her strategy though, is that they found them so effective that they still use them today. So yes, she’s going to be referring to the shutdown, the pandemic, but these are all things that they still are using today and we’ve seen other churches use as well.
[0:01:49.4] NH: Yeah, so the pandemic really caused every church to have to react, adapt and think outside the box when it came to staying connected with their communities, but an amazing thing happened. Many of the strategies that were seen at the time as just a way to get through the moment had become really vital ways to keep more communities connected and engaged.
So, in this first clip, we are going to hear from Alex and she’s telling how her church was scrambling, trying to figure out how to connect with member’s right after the pandemic started and the strategy that they came up with, and the surprising results.
[0:02:26.1] AC: Yeah. So, I’m sure churches and people all over the place were sitting in a room going, “What do we even do? What do we do, we can’t meet in person.” And we wouldn’t want to because it wasn’t safe, and safety was a paramount importance at the time. So, how do we continue to remind people that God loves them and God sees them and hears them and knows what we are going through in this time?
We have too big of a church to be personal phone calls. We did have some phone trees that we very quickly worked up for folks that didn’t have technology at their fingertips. But we very quickly came up with an idea of, “What if we just sent something out every week?” Could we send a text out? Could we remind people that God is here and that he’s hearing them and even in this moment that he is present with us walking through this with us?
So, somebody suggested on the team that we send out a weekly bible reading and we tie that in with our sermon series. So, each week, we would sit down, the pastor and the team and come up with scriptures that went with Sunday’s message. Sometimes we would include a video, sometimes we would include other things but we would send that out with questions to invite folks to dig a little bit deeper.
Then for us really, probably the biggest part of that was sending out a text each week as well. So, we would send out the bible readings via email on Sunday and then partway through the week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, we would send a text and most weeks, it was a question.
It was asking our folks how they were, how they received the bible readings, did they need prayer, different things, and we were able to connect with folks every week. We got tons and tons of these responses back.
People were having real communication, real conversations with us and describing things that they were going through and, especially that time, people were scared. They needed somewhere that they knew they could turn to for prayer, for calm, for peace, for God’s peace, we weren’t giving it to them, it was God.
But He was using us as a conduit and using Text in Church to let folks know and remind them that God was still there. We weren’t just getting responses back from people that we knew were involved in the church, we were getting folks connected that we had not previously known to be connected.
Now, they may have been coming here for a long time or not, they may have been new but for whatever reason, they had slipped through the cracks and just been sitting in a pew and doing whatever. So we were getting responses back from people that we had no information on.
We didn’t know their name, we didn’t know any other information, so for them to respond back and say, “Yeah. Actually, could you be praying for this? Could you be praying for that?” and then, for us to continue that conversation and find out more about them and more about their family and connect them further from there.
So, it wasn’t even just the question, it was being the follow-up conversations that happened and from there, if somebody really needed it, having our staff follow-up with them via phone.
[0:05:16.2] JY: Okay, so there is so much to unpack here. There’s a lot that she talked about. First, I absolutely love something that she said toward the end of the clip. She talks about people being scared and reaching out for comfort and peace. Alex made sure to point out that it is not the technology, the text itself that gives people peace, it is God that is giving the peace.
I think sometimes churches shy away from using technology over concern that it doesn’t focus people on God. But here, Alex shares how technology allowed them to remind not only their members but also new connections as well that God was with them. This is so very powerful.
[0:05:58.2] NH: Absolutely. What struck me here was that they were not just sharing information or even just sending out bible readings, they took it to the next level and used the texting feature to reach out midweek and engage people in conversations by asking questions, and this is so important and a piece of the strategy that is often overlooked.
You know, sending information through text message is a really smart strategy since 98 percent of text messages are read, but you don’t just want to give information to your people, you want to actually build real relationships with them, and the best way to do that is by asking questions and engaging in actual conversation.
[0:06:35.4] JY: I agree 100 percent Nina, and I think this is the most important and exciting reason to use texting to connect. Texting can be a very intimate way of communicating, right? I mean, texting is one of the primary ways you stay connected with your family and friends.
[0:06:50.3] NH: Yeah, literally.
[0:06:50.7] JY: So, people will often text things that they may not feel comfortable talking about in person, and I know that you and I both know that to be true. I am a huge texter of all the things. Now, this is not to say that these text conversations should never move to a phone or in-person conversation, but it’s a great way to reach out, start or continue a conversation and allow people to reach back out when they are ready.
Okay, now Nina, I need to know, are you ready for Alex to blow your mind in this next story? She is going to be sharing something about priority, are you ready?
[0:07:24.0] NH: Yes, I cannot wait.
[0:07:25.3] AC: So, imagine that you have been going to church for a very long time and you have a prayer support system and you have friends and folks that you are close with that you ask for prayer and most of the time, you maybe do that in person on Sunday and also, you invite your pastors and the church staff, folks that you trust to pray for you and you do that by a paper prayer card.
When you are not meeting in person, that doesn’t exists but prayer is still the most powerful thing that we maybe have in our toolkit. So, we had to come up with a way to invite folks to be able to do that, to connect not just with us but with God, knowing that somebody was holding them up, somebody was supporting them. What we did was just, again, a very simple text to the word prayer to this number, which is our church Text in Church number.
Folks would text that in and get an automated response that said, “Reply with your prayer and your name unless you wish you remain anonymous and somebody from our team will pray for you right now.” Around that, we built a new team of folks that were comfortable with technology, that would be able to respond, not just to pray in the moment, to stop and pray, which they do but to them also respond in text form with a short version of that prayer.
Then from there, we send an email to our staff, so we decide from there if somebody needs to follow up with that person, check back in them in a week, call them, anything more personal than that. I think the unique thing that we did was inviting folks to send a prayer and get an immediate and instant response and, not only that, we’ve used it since then on some outreach things that we have done.
We’ve put that out to families that were coming to receive meals from feeding Northeast Florida and said, “How can we pray for you? We would love to pray for you.” And we’ve gotten some responses from that as well. Just any positive experience that somebody can have with the church and with God is nothing but good.
[0:09:20.0] NH: Okay, I love that. She paints such a good picture of what it was like for so many of their members, and how the church wanted to give people a way to ask for and receive prayer. I think this is really cool that they created a prayer team that was able to immediately pray and respond with a personal prayer back to the person. I think that was really, really key.
[0:09:41.6] JY: I agree. I absolutely. Alex told me about this a while ago and I was really touched by her story here. Texting a prayer request makes it easy for the church to receive the request, but going that extra step like she talked about, to ensure that there were people able to respond to the prayer request, I think is a game-changer for them. That is real ministry and, like we mentioned before, it doesn’t end there.
The pastoral staff also received these prayer request so that they could pray over them and determine what further pastoral care was needed. So, it was not just, “Text us your prayer request.” It was text the prayer request and then you’re going to receive a response and then it wasn’t just that, it was also the pastoral team is going to look at these, pray over these and then, depending on the prayer request and the nature of it and who sent it and how much of a connection they already have with them, they were able to go deeper into that pastoral care, which I really thought was great.
[0:10:39.7] NH: Yeah, no that’s awesome. Speaking of that, let’s take a moment here to talk about how Tech in Church helped Alex’s church with this specific strategy. So first, how do we set up a way for people to submit their prayer request? So, there are few different ways to do this. In Alex’s case, they just shared their number and had people just text in their prayer request and then the prayer team, who are users in their Tech in Church account, would use the texting feature and reply to those messages with a personal prayer.
[0:11:05.8] JY: Another way to do this is to create a prayer request group inside Tech in Church, give it a keyword, and use the connection card with a custom comment. People would then text the keyword to your number and fill out the connection card they receive with their prayer request. If you set up notifications, your prayer team could receive an email message that contains the person’s information and prayer request and then respond accordingly.
[0:11:26.4] NH: There are even more ways to utilize text messaging to connect with your members and your community. In fact, we have identified ten ministry areas where you can use texting to boost attendance, participation, and engagement. It is called The Text Messaging Playbook and you can download it right now for free. Just go to podcast.techinchurch.com and you’ll find the link in this episode’s show notes.
So, go ahead, do it right now, these strategies are so simple. Plus, we will give you even more message templates that you can just copy paste and tweak to fit your church’s needs, and I really guarantee that you can put one of these strategies into action by this weekend. It’s really that easy.
[0:12:10.2] JY: I mean, this is probably one of the easiest strategies, and if you want to see how all these work in action, or to find out how you can implement these strategies with your church, I would love to chat with you at one of our live demos. You can sign up for one of our demos, we love doing that. Nina and I do them and we take turns.
[0:12:26.1] NH: Yeah, tag team.
[0:12:26.7] JY: You might get to see, you might get to meet us live. So, if you would like to sign up for a live demo, you can do that in our show notes as well. So you can grab that text messaging playbook or sign up for a live demo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[0:12:40.0] NH: All right, so that’s it for this week’s episode of the Tech in Church Podcast. Be sure to follow us on your favorite podcast app to know when new episodes are available. I’m Nina.
[0:12:49.6] JY: And I’m Jeanette and we’ll talk more tech next time.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:12:53.3] JY: The Tech in Church Podcast is a production of the Tech in Church team. To get the show notes for this week’s episode and to download the resources mentioned, go to podcast.techinchurch.com. For more information on Tech in Church, visit techinchurch.com.
[0:13:06.9] NH: The Tech in Church Podcast is a production of the Text in Church team. To get the shownotes for this week’s episode and to download the resources mentioned, go to textinchurch.com/podcast. For more information on Text in Church, visit textinchurch.com.