Text Messaging: An Engagement Guide for Church Ministries

The beauty of digital marketing for your church is the wide range of platforms you have at your disposal. Your website is versatile. Email marketing is reliable. Social media is fun. These all combine into a comprehensive communication strategy for getting out the word about your church.

Robert Carnes
November 15, 2021
Church Software

Text messaging is a sometimes-overlooked, but quickly-growing piece of the digital marketing puzzle. Individuals sending texts to one another is far from a new trend, but texting from businesses, especially ministries, is relatively recent.

However, texting is unique compared to social media or email. The same basic principles apply but within a much different format. To text effectively, you’ll need to invest the time to learn this platform before your church starts using it. We’ve created this guide to show you where to start.

Why Texting is a Valuable Tool

You might be wondering: is mass text messaging a worthwhile investment at my church? Why should I even bother with a new tool? Those are valid questions, and you should consider that texting may not be a good fit for every ministry (or at least not yet).

But here are some of the advantages of using text messaging in your ministry and why to consider it:

  • Text messages get read. Most people open the texts they get sent, even from businesses. More than 90% of texts get opened, and they usually do so shortly after receiving them. Compare that to only about 25-30% of emails on average.
  • You can include links. Thankfully, you can also include links on most texting platforms. Meaning you can direct interested people to learn more on your church’s website. And you can track those clicks to get a sense of how many people are engaged.
  • It can be automated. Like many other digital platforms, sending texts can also be automated. You save yourself time by pre-scheduling texts around important milestones like sermon series, events, or even to wish people a happy birthday.

Texts are short but personal. Texting naturally limits you to send a short amount of text (and sometimes images). This forces you to be clear and to the point—which is important because you’re reaching people directly on their mobile devices.

Just remember: texting is different from email or social media. Don’t try to send out daily updates to your entire list and expect people to stick around. Use this more personalized service carefully and less frequently.

The Benefits of Ministry Texting

Using mass texting in your ministry doesn’t happen overnight. It requires time to build a strategy, select the right platform, and connect with your intended audience. Besides time, it typically also requires some budget to pay for a texting platform (we’ll discuss some options for that next). 

Thankfully, there are some tangible benefits that come from this investment. These are just a few things your church can expect when you begin using text messaging effectively:

  • A more informed congregation 
  • A more active church community
  • More connected volunteers
  • More personal communication with parents
  • A more encouraged staff
  • More ways to make a donation

Remember that not all of these things will happen immediately or by default. Your church could just as easily abuse texting and annoy your congregation. These benefits only come through careful and consistent use of texting. Before you send a text, ask yourself: would I find this helpful to receive?

Tools for Text Messaging

Because of texting’s popularity, there are a wide number of mass texting services available. There are even several services that specifically specialize in texting for churches—here are just a few your ministry could consider:

Each of these platforms offers similar basic features—a database to collect phone numbers, push messages, gather replies, and integrate with other tools. 

Choosing the right tool for your church typically comes down to:

  • Features. Do you need to segment your list or send automated texts? More advanced features aren’t available on all platforms and usually cost more.
  • Budget. Like email platforms, most texting services are priced based on how many contacts you have or texts you send. Thankfully, most of them are pretty reasonably priced.
  • Ease of use. You’ll want to select a platform that you can use easily, especially if others on your team want to use it as well. Test a few options out and see which you like best.

Content Ideas For Ministry Texts

Say you’re ready to start using text messaging in your ministry. You’ve signed up for a tool and even started collecting phone numbers. Great—but what now? What should you text people?

Test out a few ideas below to see what works best for your church. See which ones people respond to. Don’t expect all of them to work. You’ll have to learn about what content your audience appreciates, and what they ignore.

There is no limit to what you might try, but it can sometimes be difficult to get started. With a direct connection to people’s phones, you’ll want to be strategic with what you share. Here are just a few ideas on what pieces of content they might want to see.

  • Important church news
  • Event reminders
  • Scripture verses
  • Sermon quotes
  • Volunteer openings
  • Donation requests
  • Community service opportunities
  • Inspirational stories
  • Prayer requests
  • Birthday and holiday celebrations

Text Messaging Pro Tips

Now that you’ve gotten started with some of the basics, you’ll slowly learn some tricks for getting more effective at communicating with mass texting. This isn’t like texting individually with your friends or family—it takes a deft and careful hand. 

  • Don’t oversend texts. Stick to one text message per week to avoid overdoing it with messages. The main reason why people unsubscribe is that they received too many texts. Allow people to stop getting text messages when they want.
  • Segment your lists. Dive up your phone lists based on ministries, age groups, parents, volunteers, regular attendees, and more. This takes time to monitor and maintain, but it allows you to more accurately send content that people want to receive.
  • Plan in advance. Just like with any church communication, it helps to schedule in advance. Don’t try to wing your texting content each week or rely on suggestions from your pastors. Create a calendar and work ahead so you can be proactive rather than reactive.
  • Automate content. Another way to get ahead of the curve is by automating some texting. Most platforms allow you to set these automated messages up based on certain criteria. For example, sending out a happy birthday text based on information in your database.
  • Watch your metrics. People open texts almost automatically, so pay more close attention to how many people click links you send or respond to a message. These data points actually show that they’re more engaged.

Does your church use text messaging?

Get Weekly Ministry Insights In Your Inbox

* indicates required

Don't forget to share this post!