According to Nielsen mobile, 97 percent of mobile subscribers read their new text messages within 15 minutes of receiving them. This explains why SMS is by far the most effective way to reach out to a large number of people, especially if people of all age groups are being targeted.
For churches looking to attract new members and encourage old ones to participate more in church activities, SMS can be a very effective communication tool because it is quick, reliable, and easy to use. And it doesn’t matter whether the church authorities or members are Internet-savvy, since SMS is a basic medium that doesn’t require an Internet connection to be accessed.
Now, let’s look at the various ways by which churches can use advantage of the power of SMS to grow their congregations and attract new members into their folds.
1. Delivering prayers and bible guides to members
A church can deliver daily text messages containing prayers and devotional guides to its members. It can also use the medium to deliver follow up text messages. This will help to build a stronger relationship between the church and its members, since it sends signals that the church actually cares about them.
2. Reminding members of weekly activities
Except for the church service on Sundays, most church programmes are poorly attended because members don’t have them in their weekly schedules or forget totally about them. But with bulk SMS, reminders about such programmes can be sent to members on a weekly basis. This will increase attendance at church programmes such as night vigils, bible study sessions, etc.
3. Following up on new members
First time attendees to a church can be very difficult to follow up, especially if they live far away from the church or are very busy individuals. However, with bulk SMS, the church can easily follow up on such people, sending them spiritual messages, greetings, invitations to church events, and other necessary information.
4. Reaching out to potential members
One smart tactic by which a church can attract new members into its fold and intensify its evangelism campaigns is to send regular text messages to non-member Christians within its vicinity. Some of them only need a little dose of encouragement, and that can be administered through bulk SMS. By reaching out to those people regularly, the church would be demonstrating its concern over their spiritual lives, and they will feel compelled to join its congregation.
5. Sending urgent and time-sensitive information
Because text messages reach virtually everyone, SMS is the best tool for informing people who are dispersed over different locations about last-minute changes such as cancellation of earlier scheduled programmes, change of venue of events, and so on.
6. Driving traffic to church website
Sometimes, there’ll be the need to spread among church members, information that is too much to be sent via SMS. Such information can be placed on the church website, and text messages can be sent to members to encourage them to visit the church website to get the detailed information. Since most mobile users in Nigeria have access to the Internet, this strategy can drive visitors to church websites.
All these points drive home the fact that SMS communication remains the best medium by which churches can grow their following, increase attendance, and foster evangelism.