Churches! If you haven’t tried out texting with your congregation, I’m here to tell you how transformational it’s been for Asbury Church in North Raleigh. And it’s more than just another promotional text – it’s our goal to text with our congregation like Jesus would text, not like Southwest Airlines or Jersey Mikes.
This tool has transformed how we do ministry. It goes beyond reminders to include prayer requests (how else can I ask 300 congregants how I can pray for them and then within 90 minutes pray with over 60 of them individually?), first-time guests (with workflows, I NEVER forget to send that email or text to start the conversation), event sign-ups (just text the keyword “Journaling” to sign up for our Spiritual Journaling class) and more.
I want to share some real and measurable praises from following the advice of Text in Church’s workflows and follow up and Church Marketing University’s Coaching as well as their GROW program to help with Google Grants to help support how Asbury UMC continues to welcome others to our campus in ways that are adding up to life change. I wanted to spread the word to NCCUMC because out of the 300+ churches involved in Grow, only a few are Methodist (or even mainline). While those resources have helped us do this easier, and in less time, the principles don’t require any subscription.
The first shift was a mindset shift to loving and connecting with our community through inevitable events. It takes about as much preparation and volunteers to run a Fall Festival or Spring Carnival for 40 families as it does for 200 families (just more supplies!). Since we were already doing these events for our ministries, it just meant scaling up. Next, we needed to know who was coming, and we did that with RSVPs on the website as well as QR Check-In Giveaways when they’re onsite. Then, it’s about inviting them back (not overdoing it – but connecting with them for things that are FOR them, not things we want from them).
Asbury Church went all-in on these concepts in October of last year. Since then, we’ve spent over $44,000 of Google’s money to bring over 8,000 new visitors to our website, and over 1,400 people have RSVP’d for an event, planned a visit to worship, or submitted a prayer request. Google’s Grant for Nonprofits provides up to $10,000 per month to qualified non-profits for their ads to run as long as you stay within their quality standards. We have had at least 20 new families who have come directly through these outreach events this year using these ideas.
We text regularly with our congregation (about 300 numbers), but we’ve also added over 450 people who get our big event invites and continue to build relationships with us. These folks are doing more than just coming to big events, though. They share needs and prayers, and I’m able to get to know them, even if it’s through text to start. What these numbers don’t show you are the cool stories I can tell from connecting with these folks on text (I met many folks, but these were all texting-only connections). Little boys meeting their hero firemen with touch a truck, answering questions with parents with special needs kids to feel comfortable coming, helping lonely moms find connection and companionship, and even becoming the church someone reached out to when a family member passed away (and had come to all of our events/holidays but never a normal Sunday service).
Sure, but is that really all you do? Yep. We started with simple Facebook events and local listings like WRAL. Then we added Google Grants in. As we built up the contact list from one event (Fall Festival), we invited those people back with an email/text. For each event, we spent $50-75 of our church budget on Facebook Ads, we had a banner made on Creedmoor Road, and God did the rest of the work.
Have questions? Want to learn more? So much content and advice is on Text in Church or Church Marketing University’s websites – they’re super generous leaders who want to partner with pastors. I’m happy to talk to you personally and show you specifics if you’d like.
*Article written by the Rev. Jenifer Swindell (firstname.lastname@example.org)