Welcome back to another episode of Tech In Church! In today’s episode, one of our Text In Church members, Jen Swindell from Asberry Church in North Carolina shares what she calls measurable praises that she experienced using Text In Church to connect with her community and build better relationships. As we continue with our chat, we share with listeners how they can take Jen’s inspiring stories to create their own measurable results! Don’t miss out, tune in now!
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“NH: First, let’s start with how she added a simple element to our workflow to create a personal experience for her guest. Instead of just sending like, text or email reminders and information about the upcoming event, Jen added another element, a text asking what’s your favorite candy, which just like, the most great simple idea. So if they responded, she replied back with directions on how to find her Princess Leia to give the candy. To be clear, this wasn’t a gimmick on her part but an intentional way to start a conversation with her event guests.”
[0:00:38.2] JY: Welcome to the Tech In Church Podcast, brought to you by Text in Church. I’m Jeanette Yates and I am here with my cohost, Nina Hampton. 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 form 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.
[0:01:06.4] NH: Today, we are excited to share a little encouragement for you from Text in Church member, Jen Swindell from Asberry Church in North Carolina. In today’s episode, Jen shares what she calls measurable praises that she experienced using Text in Church to connect with her community and build better relationships.We’ll then discuss how you can take her inspiring stories to create your own measurable results.
So Jen is one of our power users and often shares what her church is doing in our Facebook group to encourage others. Jeanette, you’ve also spoken with her many times about some of her experience, was it right?
[0:01:41.3] JY: Yeah, so I loved into that. She is such a great Text in Church community member in our Text in Church Facebook group and she’s great at helping out our Facebook group members as people post comments in there but recently, I asked her to sit down with me because she is so honest in sharing about the wins but also some things that she’s learned along the way — that I thought would be encouraging to others.
So in this first clip we’re going to listen to, she discusses how she took our outreach event workflow that we have, free for people to use, but she took it and she kicked it up a notch. So she and her team customized this automated workflow that we have for the outreach and let’s see how she tweaked it to meet the needs of her audience.
[0:02:26.1] JS: So the first time we did that was our fall festival in October. We did pre-registration just to be able to send people reminders and that ended up getting an idea from this community group to like, in the workflow ask what their favorite candy was and so many people responded and it was so much fun and I knew what candy we were having for the actual thing and it’s some beauty, it had something very odd.
Like, one wanted dark chocolate and caramel was their favorite. So I went to the Dollar Tree and got dark chocolate and caramel and I texted them and I said, “Hey, come see Princess Leia at the hotdog tent when you’re at fall festival because we don’t have dark chocolate at the games but I’ve got something for you” and folks just couldn’t believe it and it was like, I think there were nine that weren’t in our variety of things and so I did that and it was just a great way to have a moment with the families, connect with them, you know, build rapport.
[0:03:14.2] JY: And just to be clear, you were Princess Leia for the fall festival.
[0:03:19.4] JS: I was Princess Leia, yes. We even had a Star Wars family with Kylo and my kid was Kylo, it was the whole thing. I had one coworker that was like, “You really went to the Dollar Tree? And I was like, “Why not?” and worse thing is, you know, I think I had one or two that asked for a weirder candy that didn’t come. It was no big deal because it was just that little bit like the look of know, noticed, and loved on people’s faces where they’re like, I really just – because people still don’t really think it’s a real person, I think who is texting sometimes.
You know they’re like, “Did you really text all these people?” I’m like, “Well, fortunately, all 300 didn’t respond, but if they did, I would have made time for it.” It just wouldn’t have been very quick, you know? But, it was worth it and it was a great little connection point, you know, and then I have folks that, if they’ve been texting with me before an event, they come and they’re like, “Hey, we were pen pals but it’s so good to see you.”
We just did that for a meet and greet because as we’re getting more visitors with Google Grant and you know, if they’re in the follow-up sequence and they are engaging with me, it takes a few weeks ‘till we’re both in the same place at the same time and can meet but it is neat to feel like yo know them.
[0:04:20.8] NH: Yo, so there’s a lot to unpack here. So first, let’s start with how she added a simple element to our workflow to create a personal experience for her guest. Instead of just sending like text or email reminders and information about the upcoming event, Jen added another element, a text asking what’s your favorite candy, which is just like, the most great simple idea. That’s awesome.
[0:04:41.8] JY: Yeah, so easy.
[0:04:43.6] NH: Yeah. So if they responded, she replied back with directions on how to find her princess Leia to get the candy. To be clear, this wasn’t a gimmick on her part but in an intentional way to start a conversation with her event guests.
[0:04:58.8] JY: Yes, so she actually did have the candy that they –
[0:05:01.8] NH: She actually had real candy, wasn’t it?
[0:05:03.7] JY: Yeah, she went and bought the candy.
[0:05:05.7] NH: She wasn’t pranking anybody.
[0:05:05.8] JY: That people liked, which I thought was really great.
[0:05:08.4] NH: Also like, I would be so happy if somebody bought me my favorite candy.
[0:05:12.4] JY: Right and then, how fun is that to like, show up to an event and be like, looking for the princes Leia, right?
[0:05:17.0] NH: Yeah, that’s great.
[0:05:19.4] JY: I thought that was such a good idea and I love how she explained this as an intentional strategies. She said that even though some of her coworkers were surprised that she took the extra effort, she knew it was worth it when she saw the faces of the people line up. So –
[0:05:34.2] NH: Yeah, that’s awesome.
[0:05:35.0] JY: She says in the interview like, some of the people are like, “Are you really going to go buy all that candy?” and she’s like “Yeah, I’m going to do it” and she said the look, what I really liked was, you know, we talk about known, noticed and loved all the time at Text in Church and she said, you know, she’s internalized that as part of their – of what they’re trying to do too ad she said, “I saw the look of them feeling known, noticed and loved.”
One of the things that she mentioned to me is that their goal isn’t necessarily to get event attendees to come to church the very next week but to create intentional connection points in the community through the event and so I really love that too because I think a lot of times, I know that this happened when I was working at my church. We were like, “Okay, people are going to show up to fall festival and then we’re going to invite them to church next week.”
While some people are ready to go, they’re ready, they’re like, “I’m there” other people are like, “Hey, I just wanted to come and bring my kid to the bouncy house.”
[0:06:30.9] NH: Right and how many times like, when you invite them to church and they don’t come. They’re like, “All right, well, I’ll cut my losses, I guess, they’re not coming.” You know what I mean? And you just kind of move on to the next.
[0:06:38.9] JY: Exactly, it’s like, then, it’s like, “Well, I did my part” right? So they are trying, at their church, they have these events just like most churches do but they’re trying to develop that further connection with the individuals who attend through the use of these text conversations. So I thought that was really neat.
[0:06:57.0] NH: Yeah and you know in Jen’s experience, you know, these conversations really are making connections. We’ve seen this happen often in other churches as well. I mean, we hear stories all the time and when you are actually responding to the people when they text and you’re communicating with them before they’ve even stepped on your campus, when they do step on, they feel like they know you, you know what I mean?
It's an actual real connection and I loved that some of the people come up to Jen at the church and then introduce themselves saying, “Hey, I’m your pen pal.”
[0:07:22.9] JY: Yeah. Sounds great.
[0:07:22.9] NH: You know? So, even if they may not come. Right, like, even if they may not come straight from the carnival to your church, using those intentional conversations to build those relationships, makes it easier for your guest to connect with you when they actually do show up in your brick-and-mortar building.
[0:07:37.9] JY: Yeah and you know, we’ve heard that time and time again with like you said, many churches, they’re like.
[0:07:42.3] NH: Right.
[0:07:42.7] JY: People, when they finally see me at church, they’re like, “Oh, I’ve been chatting with you all week” or whatever, which is great. So in this next clip, Jen is going to really speak to something that many churches struggle with and it’s like what exactly to communicate with your new connections.
You’ve got a new connection, they’ve connected with you, they texted that key word, how quick do you go from, “Thank you for attending fall festival” to, “Join us for a new servant series and bible study.”
[0:08:09.1] NH: Right.
[0:08:09.4] JY: So we’ve kind of talked about how they’re taking a little bit more time but she goes in a little bit more in the second clip to explain their strategy behind that. So let’s take a listen.
[0:08:18.2] JS: The pattern and what I put out to celebrate is how it builds. So again, showing that we’re not just doing this bait and switch, we’re not just doing this for one purpose or another. It’s really, we want to serve our community and that’s been you know, the congregation really wanting to put on these events for our community, which has been a gift and we couldn’t have done this without that.
So when we did our spring carnival, we ended up same strategy, try to give cards every 30 minutes or so. You know, we did find that we didn’t have folks that weekend just because it overlapped with a youth weekend, we didn’t have as many folks at the stands. So we have less people scan those QR codes. So that’s the whole thing of just putting the technology out there without the people, it didn’t work as well.
But we still had a great turnout for spring carnival and then what I had posted, I kind of looked at our numbers specifically for that and we had retained about 40 people from fall festival to the spring carnival. Now, I didn’t add them to our weekly thing. I didn’t do any of that, they got a – after the event, they get an email from me that just says, “Thanks for coming, here’s our next big event. If you want to join our weekly newsletter, here’s how you do it. Otherwise, we’ll see you then” and then, they get one more email or text.
Like, “We know you joined us for this thing, we’d love for you to join us here” and that’s all we’ve done. I was really scared too many people would unsubscribe like I thought people would but we’ve had like seven out of almost 500 folks that have connected to us through one of those big events but aren’t necessarily worshiping with us or haven’t done the first time visitor or haven’t opted into a class or some other kind of normal worship stuff that we’re just keeping in contact with.
So it’s just been a really neat way to see and for a reminder for us that it is a relationship we’re working on and just like, it takes a lot of years to work on a relationship with a spouse or God, like these folks are people that we’re earning trust from and it takes time but it was nice to see more action from that follow up and to see more people coming to visit. The day after spring carnival, we had three of those families come to worship.
There is a fine line between ministry and stalking, which where you see on the ministry side of that and that you know, a good thing but also what brought someone to connect with you is usually a reason that they’ll stay and so like you said, they came to have a fun day with their kids. It might have been the first time they were on a church campus and who knows? I don’t know, they might be a member of the church down the street.
We had plenty of that too, so because it’s either of those two options like you said, I came to hang out with my kids. I didn’t come to find out about this Christian study like that was not what I signed up for and so I wanted to keep it kind of pure and clean. Now, you know we have a rise against hunger, a meal packaging event coming up. That is more family friendly, it is not a carnival but we’ve had several families opt in to that because it is still something they can do with the family.
[0:11:11.7] NH: Really, I think this is gold. So as a church, you want to stand out from the other text, you know that people receive, right? And they have trusted you with their information and that indicates that they want to connect but as Jen says, the reason they connected with you in first place is the reason that they then stay connected. So it is important to be intentional with them in how you follow up with them.
So in Jen’s example, the people that opted into communication at the fall family event get invited to the spring carnival. Both are family events, so it is something that’s another easy way to connect and build that relationship. They already came to one family event. So they are probably interested about coming to another one.
[0:11:49.3] JY: Right, so we were talking about this earlier today like stay on message, stay on point.
[0:11:55.0] NH: Right, do not deter.
[0:11:56.8] JY: Yeah, they came from one family then you want to invite them to another but this is really good. Another thing that she said and we’re going to let you – we’re going to also speaking of, like we keep saying and then she keeps talking. We are just sharing clips of this interview but we’re going to tell you how you can watch her entire interview where she, you know, you can get to hear more about what she’s saying.
So don’t worry, we got you covered. We just wanted to share these few clips with you but one of the things that she says as their church is preparing, you know she said they’ve got these people who have come to these family events and they’re getting ready to do an outreach to feed and secure people, people who have food and security in their neighborhood and she realized this was another opportunity to invite families.
Is it a family event not in the typical way you think of carnivals and festivals but it is a way that a family could come do something easy, easy on ramp as some of our churches might call it, easy on ramp and then a family can get the experience of actually serving together. So I really like that as like an on ramp to experience what I’s like serving with other people in the church. They are getting to know other people on the church, having a conversation about this.
That’s you know and who doesn’t want to help the hungry people in their community? That is not just a church thing.
[0:13:16.1] NH: Absolutely. Well, it is also about mobilizing people to become the church, you know what I mean? That’s what we’re all trying to do. That’s why we set out these text messages.
[0:13:22.9] JY: That’s right, Nina is preaching over here today.
[0:13:26.5] NH: Listen, if you open up the space I will step into it.
[0:13:29.9] JY: There you go.
[0:13:30.4] NH: No but so, I know that we have one more clip to share and Jen has so many great stories but I want to take just a few minutes to breakdown exactly how Jen gathers her event guest info and then continues to communicate with them. So first, she sets up an event sign up group inside of her Text in Church account. So people can sign up for the event by texting a keyword to their Text in Church 10-digit local number, scanning a QR code or accessing the connection card on the website.
In addition to the automated workflow that sends out text and email messages, Jen also sends out an extra message be the group messaging feature to ask about the candy references. So during the event, Jen’s church had a raffle of every 30 minutes and people texted a keyword to a different group, you know, event raffle group inside of their account and filled out the digital connection card for the event raffle.
Now, she had two groups, the signup group and the raffle group, to invite these spring carnival and other family events. So she then uses those two groups, the raffle group and the signup group to be her next event invitees, which is just great.
[0:14:30.2] JY: Yeah and that is where she can ask questions and start conversations. So she has these group of people she knows she’s connected with them through this event and she can start having conversations with them and as she says, that’s how the relationship builds. This last clip is my absolute, maybe the best story I’ve ever heard. I know I say I might have already said that in every other episode we recorded.
But this might be my absolute favorite thing I’ve ever heard from a Text in Church member because it shows how people perceive their relationship with your church. We often think that we belong to a church when we are members but what if you’re not a member, can you still belong? You know, that’s a question we hear even more and more now with the explosion of church online and digital church.
So this story from Jen is something that literally happened right before we recorded our interview together and I was just really blown away. So let’s listen to this last clip.
[0:15:25.8] JS: A woman had attended fall festival and Christmas and egg hunt and spring carnival and yesterday morning, we actually got a phone call. She reached out to us as her church even though she hadn’t come in a Sunday morning service and asked us for help for a family member, you know? That was my big moment of, “Okay, this is more than candy and eggs and bounce houses.”
Although all those things are wonderful but the proof again, someone that I wouldn’t have recognized if she was in the grocery store with me that I had texted back and forth about various things and she had been to campus like when that moment was needed, we weren’t just the place with the bounce houses like we were the place to pray with and be with and show up for a family’s funeral, which was amazing.
[0:16:12.2] NH: Man, that’s just so powerful. I mean, it really speak to – I mean, that’s a why like that is something that Jen and probably other people on the staff at Asberry will probably always keep with them as the, “This is the why we do this.” You know, that connection to actually make somebody be a part of your community, right? Because it’s not just about your Sunday attendance but you are a part of this but we want to help you.
We want to be there with you and we are humbled that you can now trust us in this moment that you have need, so that is so incredible.
[0:16:40.3] JY: Yeah, so just really great, you know? She said she was even blown away like she hadn’t even thought of it that way because you know, one of the things with Text in Church is you can go back add it into a contact’s record and look to see how they’ve connected and she could see that this person had only connected at these big events.
[0:16:59.2] NH: Right, they’re not a part of your member group, they’re not a part of your youth group, parents group, they’re not a part of anything else. They’re only a part of that one event group and so that kind of gives you that indicator like, “Man, I’m being given one heck of an opportunity here.”
[0:17:10.6] JY: Yes and so that just really, it really spoke to me and I was like, “Man, you know, I hope a lot of pastors watch this interview” and all that kind of stuff and you know, of course listen to this podcast. Speaking of which, I want to invite you to watch Jen’s entire interview by joining our Text in Church community Facebook group. It’s my favorite place on the Internet. You can also feel free to ask questions in the group.
So that you can grow in a deeper understanding of how Jen and other Text in Church members have seen, like she says, measurable praises in communications and connections and because we talked a lot about events today, we are going to give you a free video training, church communication made simple community outreach event strategy. You can access it for free by just going to podcast.textinchurch.com. That’s what I’ve got for today, that’s a lot.
[0:18:03.0] NH: Yeah, all right friends, it’s time to take action. So go to our show notes at podcast.textinchurch.com to join the Facebook group or to watch the free video training on outreach event communications.
[0:18:16.5] JY: Now, we want to break down any barriers for you to get the best training and resources to move your ministry forward and we think this video training will help you turn your outreach events into true connection points for your community and your church.
[0:18:28.0] NH: 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.
[0:18:37.1] JY: And I’m Jeanette and we’ll talk.
[0:18:39.7] NH: More tech.
[0:18:40.2] JY: Next time.
The Tech in Church Podcast is a production of the Text in Church team. To get the show notes for this week’s episode and to download the resources mentioned, go to podcast.textinchurch.com. For more information on Text in Church, visit textinchurch.com.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:18:54.7] JY: 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.