Text messages sent via cell phones are quickly becoming the communication method of choice, especially among young adults. And churches are now finding ways to integrate the medium into their ministries.
Third Reform Church Uses SMS Text Messaging to Keep in Contact with Youth Groups
Third Reform Church is located in Pella, Iowa, a town of about 10,000 people. On any given Sunday, there are 2500-3000 people attending services.
Craig Zuithoff, is the Student Ministry Leader for a group of 400 middle- and high-school students, all of whom need to be updated with information on a regular basis.
Zuithoff sought to communicate with the students in the most relevant method possible. Although this included methods like Facebook and mass emails, he felt there was a need for something more immediate. Text messaging, the most common means of communication for this age group, was a perfect fit. He signed up, created an account and was up and running with his text messaging solution in minutes.
Zuithoff started by collecting permission and numbers directly from his students. In addition to manually collecting data, he placed two web widgets on his site to collect numbers online, as well. He mentioned that the first & last name fields are especially helpful, as he can create sub-groups based on this information.
Zuithoff sends reminders of upcoming events and meetings about two times per week. He also hosts a Monday night meeting with a small group of students that changes locations almost weekly. In order to spread the word about their next meeting place, he simply sends a text a few hours beforehand. Without this in place, there would be no easy way to alert his group members of where they need to be.
The SMS solution that Zuithoff implemented has proven to be an invaluable service for THIRD REFORM CHURCH. Since using text messaging over the past year, Third Reform Church has seen a significant jump in special event attendance due to their last minute SMS announcements. Over time, approximately 80% of students have opted in to receive SMS alerts. Parents have also started to signup in order to keep track of their children’s church schedule. It has been especially helpful for last minute updates, or event cancellations/changes due to bad weather.