Why is it that some churches are wildly successful while others struggle to draw crowds?
Partly, it has to do with leadership, but a big chunk of it comes from their willingness to use technology. Churches that leverage mass text messaging services (no pun intended) often see growth in their congregations.
According to the latest Gallup poll, church membership in the U.S. is falling. In 1999, 70 percent of people said that they attended church regularly. By 2018, it was 50 percent, and during 2020, the pandemic year, it fell to 47 percent.
Text messaging services might be a way to turn the situation around. Communicating with congregants using platforms they know and love may encourage them to get more involved.
So how, exactly, can you grow church attendance via SMS? Let’s take a look.
Provide Congregants With A Way To Request Information
Most people don’t want to call church offices to find out more about church life. Given changes in technology, texting is now the preferred mode of communication. Studies show, for instance, that 69 percent of people prefer unfamiliar organizations to communicate with them by text, not a phone call.
Churches should take note of this reality. While their services fundamentally differ from businesses, government departments, and charities, their audience is essentially the same. Today’s consumers want text-based conversations, not conventional voice calls.
Distribute Responsibilities More Effectively
Giving church-goers responsibilities is a great way to improve church attendance. When people feel invested in an organization, they are much more likely to attend long-term. They feel a sense of pride and ownership.
Text messaging can help in this regard. Pastors and ministers who communicate with congregants via SMS services can make their operations more inclusive. For instance, they might send out messages asking for people to cover someone who is off sick or set up an event. Messages like this only take seconds to send but can make a big difference in how people view church life. They cease being consumers and become producers.
Build A Community
Churches like to view themselves as “communities,” but only a small subset ever attain this status in reality. Many lack a cohesive feel to them.
Declines in median church attendance reflect this reality. In 2000, the average church service had 137 congregants. By 2020, that had fallen to just 65, a drop of more than half.
Getting people together after church services is one option to increase community engagement, but that’s not always practical. Text messaging provides an alternative route. Congregants and church leaders can communicate with each other in real-time and share their ideas. Like family group chats on WhatsApp, it’s a way of bringing everyone together.
Send Out Bible Verses
Another option is to send out bible verses to all congregants. It’s a simple thing, but getting church-goers pumped about the word of God reminds them of the value of their faith. It’s also a way of preparing them for topics you’ll cover on Sunday. Having a weekly theme can be a great way to engage intellectually-oriented members of the congregation. Sending out weekly – or even daily – Bible verses is super simple with a church texting service. All you need to do is sign up, add a list of your congregants, and start texting.
Share Welcome Messages
Even though the pandemic is subsiding, many church-goers are still reluctant to return. According to an American Enterprise Institute survey of more than 3,504 Christians, 64 percent said they felt either “somewhat uncomfortable” or “very uncomfortable” returning to in-person church services.
Welcome messages may help. Finding ways to make people feel more comfortable and valued could help churches reverse the post-pandemic dip in attendance.
Offer Follow-Up Messages
Lastly, studies show that people only retain about 50 percent of the information they receive during verbal presentations. The next day, that figure drops to 25 percent, and after a week, it’s just 10 percent.
For regular businesses, this is a problem. But for churches struggling with attendance, it can mean the difference between having a healthy attendance and not.
Follow-up messages help to drive the value delivered in the sermon home. You can ask congregants what they thought of the service, and get them to provide feedback on their experience. Business-orientated practices like this can encourage congregants to become ambassadors for your church, telling others about it.
The Bottom Line
In summary, SMS messaging may be an effective way to improve church attendance. It increases engagement, encourages attendance directly, and helps give church-goers more ownership over church life. What’s more, it’s inexpensive, making it a great alternative to other marketing methods.